Four days ago Russia battled valiantly against the hosts Japan and although they lost 30 – 10, they improved their ranking as they lost by a smaller margin than expected ( see our blog - did we see what we expected from the first round). They remain ranked in 19th position for the tournament, although they will be looking to build on this when they face Samoa today
Samoa are playing their first game of the tournament and are currently ranked at 14th. After reaching their highest-ranking points in 2013 (see graph below), Samoa has been on something of a downward trend, although they remain the favourite going into this match.
Samoa will hope to win today and could build a foundation to make further progress in a fairly open pool which includes Japan, Ireland and Scotland. Russia on the other hand will be targeting their first win in a Rugby World Cup, and such a feat would be all the more salient following breaking news today that Russian athletes may be banned from all sporting events in the near future1. (photograph source: The Times article reference - see footnote)