When Paul Martin and his four friends decided in June they would be heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup, little did they know how they’d be celebrating on the night of the final.
Hours after South Africa stunned England in the final in Yokohama, when the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time, the team’s players and staff were savouring every moment back in their hotel in Tokyo.
And, joining them, with some luck and a bit of nerve, was England fan Paul and his fellow rugby fans, who were all supporting Wales.
Paul was joined by staunch Kidwelly RFC supporter Steve Williams to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun, along with Steve’s son Jonathan, who captains Kidwelly, and friends Jordan Davies, who plays for Caerleon, and Samiwel Davies, who plays for Clwb Rygbi Caerdydd.
Paul, who attended both semi-finals, explained the group had been staying in the hotel next door to South Africa’s team base in Tokyo – and had actually been bumping into players all week ahead of the crunch match on Saturday.
After attending the final, the group – with their proud Kidwelly RFC flag – decided to return to the ‘Boks’ team hotel to enjoy a nightcap.
“Last night, we went back there and all the South Africa supporters were there”, Paul explains.
“We were down in the bar and it closed, so we just grabbed our bucket of beers and went upstairs and mingled.
“There was a party upstairs and we just kind of walked in.
“It was mad, really, but we’ve laughed about it today.
“I was there in my England jersey but they were great. I’ve got over the disappointment of losing [in the final].
“We were talking to them and they were very appreciative of the World Cup.”
Posing for plenty of pictures, the group got to meet coach Rassie Erasmus, captain Siya Kolisi and World Rugby’s player of the year, Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Speaking from the departures lounge of Tokyo Airport on Sunday, he added: “We had quite a few photos.
“They were just generally mingling and having photos with everybody
“They were great, fantastic.
“It was the icing on the cake.”
And they had so much fun they ended up staying there until 4.30am!
“You put it on social media and you have so many likes and comments, everybody’s like ‘how did you blag that?'”
Paul, who was born in Durham, has called Kidwelly home for decades.
“I’ve been having some funny looks because I’ve got a west Walian accent and I’ve got my England jersey.
“The welcome we’ve had and the hospitality with the Japanese people has been fantastic.
“To be here has just been immense.”
Paul was also very happy to grab a picture with England prop Joe Marler during his stay, while they’ve also caught glimpses of James Haskell, Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips, too.