Samurai Sexton leads Ireland past Japan on landmark 100-cap day

·3-min read
Ireland rugby legend Johnny Sexton celebrated in style his 100th Test for his country scoring 16 points including a try as the Irish routed Japan 60-5 (AFP/PAUL FAITH)

Ireland's Johnny Sexton celebrated his 100th Test for his country and scored 16 points in the 60-5 rout of Japan before being presented with a Samurai sword by his opponents.

"I'll keep it away from Luca (his son), he'll bash his sisters with it," said Sexton.

"It's a special day and that's a special memento to get from an opposition team, that's very special for me and it will take pride of place somewhere in my house."

The 36-year-old fly-half said the try he scored early in the second-half would rank up with the very best moments of his career which have included three Six Nations titles -- the pinnacle being the 2018 Grand Slam -- and four European Cups with Leinster.

He was mobbed by his team-mates and received his second standing ovation of the day -- the first when he ran onto the pitch on his own prior to the game.

"I said it to the lads in the dressing room that it was one of the best moments of my career," said Sexton.

"It was very special and the crowd at that moment, I'll remember it forever."

A broad grin swept across his face even more so when he looked up to see his family as he walked back to take the conversion.

"I knew where they were sitting before the game, and they were just smiling, so then I was trying to switch in and get the conversion," said Sexton.

It was a one-sided encounter with the hosts scoring nine tries -- including three by Andrew Conway and another Test centurion Cian Healy rounded off the scoring with one in the final minute -- for their sixth successive Test win.

An emotional Sexton could barely be heard above the roar and cheers of the crowd as he was interviewed post-match on the pitch.

"It has been an incredible day for me and my family -- most of them are here.

He added: "I feel a little bit guilty as over the past two years friends of mine like Cian Healy won his 100th cap and there was no crowd so I feel a bit guilty and I will remember it forever, thank you so much."

- 'Very pleasing day' -

Japan coach Jamie Joseph was bitterly disappointed as they failed to back up on a decent performance in the 32-23 defeat by Australia a fortnight ago.

"The Irish team played really well, they were playing -- I felt -- for one of their brothers in terms of Johnny Sexton," he said.

Sexton is the seventh Irishman to win 100 caps for his country joining the likes of compatriots Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell in reaching the milestone.

He says he never thought he would reach that figure when he made his Test debut aged 24 against Fiji in 2009 at Landowne Road in dreadful weather conditions.

"I looked out the window this morning and saw the tree bending in the wind and I had a sense of deja vu," he said.

Sexton said he had received so many texts prior to the game he had spent a record amount of time on his phone answering them.

"All the lads with a hundred caps made the effort to reach out," said Sexton.

"That meant a lot to me. Obviously some boyhood heroes… (former Manchester United and Ireland star) Paul McGrath. It was on Instagram, that one as he does not have my number."

He left to his third standing ovation just after the hour mark but head coach Andy Farrell said the day was not 100 percent perfect for the Manchester United fan.

"It's been a very pleasing day for me all round because Manchester City beat Manchester United 2-0," said Farrell.

"It had been a brilliant week for Johnny till I told him the result at the final whistle."


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