Rugby World Cup 2019: The lowdown on Scotland's pool opponents

After opening with a chastening loss to Ireland, Scotland got their Rugby World Cup campaign back on track with a 34-0 win over Samoa.

But after Japan's shock win against Ireland, Gregor Townsend's side will need a bonus-point win against Russia, and then the hosts to give themselves the best chance of a quarter-final spot.

So how difficult will it be do to just that? BBC Scotland takes a look at Scotland's final two pool-stage opponents.


World Ranking: 20

Last World Cup: (Only appearance in 2011- Pool stage)

Last meeting: Never played before

It is perhaps a tad unfair to say the Russians are there to make up the numbers in this pool, but it would be a major shock if they were to emerge from the tournament with a win. Coached by former Wales international and Ospreys boss Lyn Jones, the Bears were thumped 85-15 by Italy in a warm-up match and also lost to Irish province Connacht and English second-tier side Jersey.

Only two of their squad play their club rugby outside Russia, Sale prop Valery Morozov and Grenoble second-row Andrei Ostrikov, while former Northampton wing Vasily Artemyev, who now plays for Krasny Yar, captains the side from full-back. Having lost to both Japan and Samoa, on paper their best chances of a victory, it looks likely they will suffer four defeats from four in the pool.

It's likely Scotland will rest almost all of their front-liners for the match given there's just a four-day turnaround to a potentially do-or-die match with Japan. Defeat is unthinkable.


World Ranking: 10

Last World Cup: Pool stage

Last meeting: Japan 16-21 Scotland (Tokyo, June 2016)

Japan beat South Africa with a last minute try in 2015 in arguably the biggest World Cup-shock ever
Japan beat South Africa with a last-minute try in 2015 in arguably the biggest World Cup shock ever

Announcing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in world rugby at the World Cup four years ago, the Brave Blossoms will be determined to prove that glorious last-minute 34-32 win over South Africa in Brighton was no flash in the pan. With the keen backing of their own fans everywhere they go, nobody would be stunned Scotland having done brilliantly to beat Ireland.

They turned in comfortable victories over the summer against Fiji, Tonga and United States to clinch another Pacific Nations Cup but were eased aside 41-7 by the Springboks in their last warm-up match for the tournament. Head coach Jamie Joseph, a former All Black and Japan international who coached the Highlanders to the Super Rugby title in 2015, has stuck to the nation's traditional game-plan of high-tempo rugby based on precision and speed at the breakdown.

However, Scotland enjoy a fast-paced game and would back themselves to come out on top in an unstructured free-for-all. Watch out for winger Kenki Fukuoka, who, if fit in time to play Scotland, is a lethal finisher with 21 tries in 34 Tests.

It's Scotland's last pool fixture and could end up being a straight shoot-out for a quarter-final place.

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