Russia faces Samoa in a Pool A match at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya City on 24 September. Samoa will begin their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign, while Russia lost to Japan in the opening match of the tournament. The match is being broadcast in the U.S. on NBC Sports Gold for subscribers with the RWC package on-demand.
Russia Head Coach Lyn Jones has kept his matchday 23 intact following a strong effort after a 30-10 loss against Japan in the tournament opener.
Fly-half Yury Kushnarev makes a team record-extending 111th career appearance for the Bears, but winger Denis Simplikevich, who has 28 caps and scored a try in each of his two games against Ireland and Australia at RWC 2011, will wait to make an appearance in RWC 2019.
Vladimir Ostroushko, Andrey Garbuzov, and captain Vasily Artemyev have featured in all of Russia’s five RWC matches. Full-back Vasily Artemyev captained his country on a record 32 occasions. His 29 test tries are the most by any player in Bears history.
Samoa coach Steve Jackson has spent time with his squad prior to coming to the Rugby World Cup calling in Japanese cultural experts to advise his players when to cover up their tattoos during the World Cup. He has also concentrated on ensuring his players have an appreciation of Japanese culture to avoid any misunderstandings while they are in the host nation.
Chris Vui will be the match-day captain in place of Jack Lam, who is injured and unavailable for selection. Vui’s selection at blindside flanker boosts Samoa’s lineout options. Overseas-based stars such as Tim Nanai-Williams and Tusi Pisi are also key players for Samoa.
Ten of the starting XV in Samoa’s last game, a 34-15 loss against Australia, will start against Russia. Logovii Mulipola, Motu Matuu, Dwayne Polataivao, Ah-See Tuala, as well as captain Vui join the starters.
The side also features eight players who will make their Rugby World Cup debuts. Ed Fidow is a player that will make his RWC debut. He has scored eight tries in his first eight appearances for Samoa, an accomplishment that no Samoa player has accomplished in their first eight games.
Ray Lee-Lo, another seasoned veteran, appeared in all four matches for Samoa in RWC 2015 and since then has added 19 caps, which are the most for Samoa.
Tusi Pisi at 37 years and 268 days will surpass Peter Fatialofa (36 years 45 days) as the oldest Samoan to play at a Rugby World Cup. When scrumhalf Melani Matavao enters the match from the bench, he has the chance to add to his seven tries in nine matches.
Russia: 1.Valery Morozov 2. Stanislav Selskii 3. Kirill Gotovtsev 4. Andrey Ostrikov 5. Bogdan Fedotko 6. Vitaly Zhivatov 7. Tagir Gadzhiev 8. Nikita Vavilin 9. Vasily Dorofeev 10. Yury Kushnarev 11. Kirill Golosnitskiy 12. Dmitry Gerasimov 13. Vladimir Ostroushko 14. German Davydov 15. Vasily Artemyev (capt.) 16. Evgeny Matveev 17. Andrei Polivalov 18. Azamat Bitiev 19. Andrey Garbuzov 20. Anton Sychev 21. Dmitry Perov 22. Ramil Gaisin 23. Vladislav Sozonov
Samoa: 1 Logovi Mulipola 2 Motu Matu’u 3 Mike Alaalatoa 4 Filo Paulo 5 Kane Le’aupepe 6 Chris Vui (capt.) 7 TJ Ioane 8 Afaesetiti Amosa 9 Dwayne Polataivao 10 Tusi Pisi 11 Ed Fidow 12 Ray Lee-Lo 13 Alapati Leiua 14 Ah See Tuala 15 Tim Nanai-Williams 16 Ray Niuia 17 Paul Alo-Emile 18 Jordan Lay 19 Senio Toleafoa 20 Josh Tyrell 21 Melani Matavao 22 AJ Alatimu 23 Henry Taefu
Referee: Romain Poite (France) Assistant Referees: Jerome Garces (France) & Brendon Pickerill TMO: Graham Hughes (England)