Sixteen years ago, fans at the Stadium de Toulouse rose as one after Japan had just been beaten by Fiji in a Rugby World Cup thriller. On Sunday, they rose again to welcome Chile to the world stage.

While supporters are often referred to as a team's 24th man, it felt like Los Condores had a 25th, 26th or more on Sunday, such was the noise their fans made.

Japan flanker Michael Leitch is among those hopeful that the South Americans and their supporters can make it to more than one World Cup.

"They were awesome," said Leitch, who is appearing in his fourth World Cup.

Japan flanker Michael Leitch (C) carries the ball against Chile in a Rugby World Cup Pool D match at Stadium de Toulouse in Toulouse, France, on Sept. 10, 2023. (Kyodo)

"We expected the Chileans to be very passionate on the field but as soon as we got into the stadium the noise of the Chilean supporters was amazing. It was crazy. I wish they could come to every World Cup."

For their part, the Chileans want to make sure their appearance is no flash in the pan.

"There is a responsibility on us when we step on the pitch," said Los Condores captain Martin Sigren, who reportedly lost 4 kilograms during the course of the game.

"We want to make rugby popular (and take over from football). This World Cup may help. We don't want this to be the first (and only one). It wasn't easy to qualify but we want this to happen in the future."

While the team struggled to compete for the full 80 minutes, their fans never let up, despite the blistering conditions.

"It was quite an emotion," said wing Santiago Videla. "We could hear the 15,000 Chileans that came this afternoon. It's a moment we will never forget. We heard Chilean songs and them pushing for us and it was quite a moment."

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