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In fact, yes, Japan were champions. Wales lost the title to England in their first World Cup warm-up match, but then beat the English the following week to reclaim the title. Wales then lost both of their remaining warm-ups to Ireland, who thus took the title into the World Cup. Japan then took it with victory over Ireland (it was the second time Japan had held the title - the first being in 2013). They lost to South Africa in the quarter-finals. England have, of course, got the chance to reclaim the title on Saturday. Fingers crossed!
This is correct, and I apologize; in retrospect, I apparently misinterpreted the previous explanation comment and thought it said that Ireland were the champions (a line that led to England), when in fact it said that Wales were (a line that led to Japan).
So South Africa won the Rugby World Cup to retain the title last November. Coronavirus has meant that the Springboks have not played an international since - hopefully they will be competing in the Rugby Championship this November.