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[ODDS and EVENS] Rugby World Cup: A Test of Mettle for Japan and Samoa

Coming off losses to England and Argentina, respectively, at the Rugby World Cup, the Brave Blossoms and Samoa look to get back on track.



Rugby World Cup
Japan players huddle during a Rugby World Cup training session on September 27 in Toulouse, France. (Stephane Mahe/REUTERS)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [ODDS and EVENS] Rugby World Cup: A Test of Mettle for Japan and Samoa

Notwithstanding the quirks of the Rugby World Cup's Pool D schedule, Japan manager Jamie Joseph and his Samoa counterpart, Seilala Mapusua, have hammered home the same message to their teams.

One difference, though: Joseph has had several more days to deliver his thoughts on the Brave Blossoms' clash with Samoa.

But the significance of the teams' encounter in Toulouse, France, on Thursday night, September 28 (kickoff at 4 AM JST on Friday) cannot be overstated. Both head coaches have declared that their team needs a win to keep alive hopes of advancing to the RWC quarterfinals in France.

Does world No 12 Samoa have the edge?

Samoa owns a 12-5 record in head-to-head matches against Japan. But don't forget this: Host Japan manhandled Samoa 38-19 in September 2019 at the Rugby World Cup in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.

In the teams' most recent encounter, Samoa topped 14-man Japan 24-22 on July 22 in the Pacific Nations Cup. 

"We’re not comparing the Samoa team that we played four years ago to the team that we’re seeing now and that we played in Sapporo," Joseph, whose squad is 13th in the latest world rankings released on September 25, said on Tuesday.

Although history certainly suggests the advantage goes to the Polynesian island country, Mapusua insisted pre-Rugby World Cup results aren't a real indicator of anything that has happened in France.

"We have seen an improvement in the Japanese team and an improvement in our own team," Mapusua was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. "So while we played each other back in July both teams have improved, so we can't really look too much to that game and that result."

Rugby World Cup
Japan hooker Shota Horie, seen in a team workout on September 25, is appearing in his fourth Rugby World Cup. (ⒸSANKEI)


Rugby World Cup Results for Both Teams

Japan opened its 2023 RWC campaign with a 34-12 rout of Chile on September 10.

Samoa followed with a 43-10 drubbing of tournament debutant Chile on September 16.

England walloped Japan 34-12 on September 17, pulling away in the second half after taking a 13-9 lead into the break.

Samoa dropped a 19-10 decision to Argentina on September 22. The victorious Pumas had a 13-day break since its tourney-opening defeat (27-10) to England on September 10, while, oddly enough, the schedule makers gave Samoa only five days to rest between matches.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven

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