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Social Media Analysis of Japan vs South Africa #RWC2015 – RSA reacts

South Africans have very high expectations when it comes to how our sports teams perform, especially the 3 giants – rugby, cricket & soccer. This deep, ingrained passion also makes sports an easy target for hijacking by political & other personal agendas as we saw leading up to the first SA game of the Rugby World Cup 2015. As a result, we, as a nation, can be very critical when things aren’t going the way we want – a great example being our long list of rugby head-coaches since 1995.


It is no surprise then that South African social media went a little mental after Saturday’s shock upset against Japan. With the fires already stoked by the controversy over team selections and the recent losses in the Rugby Championships, Springbok fans were not shy to articulate their thoughts. The surprising part was the subsequent overwhelmingly positive attitude of rugby fans in the wake of defeat.

Social Analytics | Graph | Volume & Sentiment

Online conversation relating to the game between the Sprinboks and Japan for RWC2015

Friday before game day 24% of the total online conversation about the fixture was pro Bokke. The vast majority of the rest was either positive towards Japan or neutral.


Then it happened, the 85mins no-one expected – Eddie Jones and his brave, Brave Blossoms stunned & excited the world with their stellar, clever & gutsy performance. The Boks performance was inspiring – in the sense that it inspired hashtags like #StrongerThanTheBoks (a quick amendment from the recently trending #StrongerThanTheRand) and countless internet memes.



So, as may be expected, after the final whistle blew, positive sentiment towards the Boks declined sharply (to less than 1% of all the conversation about the game). Negativity did rise, but not as significantly as one may think, up to 17% compared to 13% the day before which was highly influenced by the talk of race and age in the team selection. Perhaps just a switch of topic or validation of sorts for those already on the anti-bokke bandwagon.


What did happen though is that there was a huge jump in the positivity towards the Japanese, with 53% of comments and posts remarking on their exceptional performance. With a huge influx in the number of tweets and posts, combined with a huge drop off of positivity and the marginal increase in negativity, it seems most heart-broken fans decided to comment on the exceptional performance of the Japanese team and the historical event we had just witnessed.


Despite our crushing defeat, it didn’t take long for the true spirit of South Africans to show itself. Tweets from Brighton soon told the story of South African rugby fans paying tribute to the Brave Blossoms offering a “guard of honour” for the Japanese supporters.




Over the next two days, the disappointment seemed to wear off and South Africans steadily returned to getting behind the Bokke. Over Sunday, we went from less than 1% in support of the Green & Gold up to 4% and down from 17% to 10% negativity. By Monday we were well on our way again with 13% of the total conversation throwing their support behind our boys and only 8 % of the total conversation being negative – 4% lower than the day before game day!


It would seem that our inherent ability to deal with turbulence and our love for the game still trumps our drive to criticise our boys. Thank you South Africa – we are proud be part of a nation that is able to laugh at itself, take one on the chin, congratulate our competitors and get on with it. So on Saturday, let’s pull on our Springbok jerseys, light the braai and scream our lungs out in support of our team. Go Bokke – Go South Africa!

Social Analytics | Crimson Hexagon

This data was gathered and analysed using Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight platform.


youKnow Digital are Crimson Hexagon’s Sub-Saharan partners. If you like to see more of the powerful features that this Social Research and Analytics platform can provide, feel free to contact us for a live demonstration.

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