It seems a long time ago since the then Western Samoa rugby collective stunned the sport’s established order when they beat Wales 16-13 in Cardiff at the 1991 World Cup.
However, in the intervening period, while the gap between the haves and have-nots in the international game has markedly increased, the Pacific Islanders are still as proud warriors on the pitch as they are in financial difficulties off it.
In the build-up to the current tournament, Scotland lacked for nothing in their preparations, whether attracting 50,000-plus crowds to their warm-up matches or enjoying all the mod cons available to the IRB’s Tier One representatives.
The Samoans, in contrast, who launch their campaign against Russia today, prior to tackling Gregor Townsend’s team next next Monday, were forced to rely on donations from the public to help them get to Japan.
And yet, that will simply make Steve Jackson’s players all the more dangerous in the aftermath of the Scots’ abject performance during their 27-3 loss to Ireland.
As things stand, Samoa, led by 31-year-old Bristol flanker, Jack Lam, and bolstered by the likes of Cardiff Blues centre, Rey Lee-Lo, and veteran stand-off, Tusi Pisi, who plies his trade with Toyota Industries Shuttles in Japan, will fancy their chances of heaping further misery on Scotland, considering the fearsome power of their big ball carriers.
But they can also take heart from their most recent tussles with their Northern Hemisphere rivals. In the sides’ last three meetings, between 2013 and 2017, the Samoans scored 98 points to Scotland’s 97, a sequence which included a 27-17 win in South Africa and a heartbreaking 36-33 reverse at the last World Cup.
It hasn’t helped their cause that their key players are scattered all over the globe, which makes it difficult for any coach to build up continuity and cohesion, let alone gain access to a meaningful fixture schedule.
But, there again, the Scots’ reliance on channelling their resources into just two professional teams hasn’t delivered huge success either.
It’s time the SRU recognised the need to either invest in a third side, preferably based in the North of the country, or explain why they seem happy for rugby to be confined to a couple of central belt-based organisations, whereas Ireland and Wales have ensured there is much greater competition for places.
On paper, Townsend’s men should be clear favourites next week. They are ranked seventh in the IRB standings, nine places above the Samoans, who are also being tasked with a programme of two Tests in six days.
Yet, everything has changed after Sunday’s debacle in Yokohama. There was virtually nothing from which Scotland could derive even a sliver of comfort and Samoa’s coaching staff will emphatically highlight the litany of missed tackles, handling errors and individual frailties which sparked their insipid capitulation.
A lot was made in advance of the Ireland clash about how the Scots had used Fairy Liquid to prepare for the expected wet, humid conditions.
But now, it’s Samoa who have the belief, belligerence and bravado to put them in fresh soapy bubble!