Rugby World Cup History: Samoa

With less than 100 days to the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Last Word on Sports looks back at how the participating nations have fared in the previous seven tournaments from the inaugural in 1987 to the most recent in 2011. Today’s focus is Samoa, who have appeared at six of the seven previous Rugby World Cups.

Rugby World Cup History: Samoa


Western Samoa, as they were then known, did not compete at the 1987 Rugby World Cup. The 16 teams competing were made up from seven International Rugby Football Board members and 9 invited teams. Western Samoa were not a IRFB member and were not among the teams invited to compete.


The quarter finalists from the 1987 World Cup automatically qualified for the 1991 tournament, the other eight teams were determined by regional qualifiers. Western Samoa qualified through the Asia/Oceania group defeating Japan, Tonga and South Korea to finish top of the group. At the tournament they were placed in Pool C with Australia, Wales and Argentina. Western Samoa provided the shock of the tournament in their opening game, defeating 1987 semi finalists Wales in Cardiff 16-13. Pushing Australia close in a 9-3 loss, Western Samoa sealed qualification to the quarter finals with a comprehensive 35-12 win over Argentina. Despite their group stage heroics Western Samoa were handily beaten by Scotland in the quarter finals with the final score 28-6.


Western Samoa qualified automatically for the 1995 World Cup in South Africa having reached the quarter finals in 1991. Drawn in Pool B with England, Argentina and Italy, Western Samoa qualified for the quarter finals beating Italy and Argentina but England were too strong for them and as such the Samoans finished runners up, setting up a quarter final against hosts South Africa. Western Samoa were outplayed by the Springboks with winger Chester Williams their main tormentor scoring four tries as South Africa ran out 42-14 winners.


As only the top three finishers from 1995 would qualify automatically for the 1999 tournament, Samoa (as the country was now known) would have to come through a qualification group. Despite defeats to Australia and Fiji, Samoa defeated Tonga to claim the third Oceania qualifying place. Drawn in Pool 3 with hosts Wales, Argentina and Japan, Samoa opened with a comfortable 43-9 win against Japan. After losing 32-16 to Argentina in their second match, Samoa went in to their final pool game against the hosts needing a win. For the second time in World Cup history Samoa defeated Wales in Cardiff, this left Wales, Samoa and Argentina all on four points in the group. Wales finished top due to a superior points difference leaving Samoa in second place and facing a playoff against Scotland to reach the quarter finals. As in 1991, Scotland proved too much for Samoa as the Samoans went down 35-20.


Samoa qualified for the 2003 Rugby World Cup, finishing runners up in the Oceania qualifying group to Fiji, with both nations advancing to the World Cup. Samoa were given a tough draw, placed with England, South Africa, Uruguay and Georgia. Comfortable wins against Uruguay and Georgia were not enough to qualify for the knockout stages, as Samoa lost to eventual winners England 35-22 and then lost heavily to South Africa 60-10 to finish third in the pool.


Qualification for the 2007 World Cup again led Samoa through a group with Fiji and Tonga. After a home and away round robin tournament Samoa topped the group to advance to the World Cup. For the second straight World Cup Samoa were drawn against South Africa and England. Also in Pool A were fellow Oceania qualifier Tonga and the USA. Samoa had an inauspicious start to their campaign with a 59-7 loss to South Africa, followed up with a narrow 19-15 loss to Tonga and a 44-22 loss to England, which meant that even third place in the group, which carried automatic qualification to the 2011 World Cup, was now beyond Samoa. Some consolation was regained with a 25-21 win over the USA in Samoa’s final pool match.


Finishing 4th in their 2007 pool meant Samoa would again have to qualify for the World Cup. A home and away tie against Papua New Guinea was not a problem for Samoa who won with an aggregate score of 188-19. Drawn in Pool D with holders South Africa, Wales, Fiji and Namibia, Samoa started the tournament against Namibia. Samoa proved more than a match for the African qualifier running out 49-12 winners. Next up was Wales but despite running the Welsh close, Samoa could not rack up a hat-trick of Rugby World Cup victories against the principality eventually losing 17-10. A 27-7 win over Fiji and a narrow 13-5 loss to South Africa left Samoa third in the pool, and while not good enough to reach the quarter finals, it did give them automatic qualification to the 2015 World Cup.

Samoa have had a mixed history at the Rugby World Cup from bursting on to the scene in 1991 with their giant killing of Wales to losing to Tonga in 2007. Samoa have the shown the ability to push the big teams all the way and on occasion pull off a scalp. The 2015 Rugby World Cup will see Samoa aiming to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time since 1999, however a familiar roadblock awaits them as they will face South Africa in the pool stage for the fourth successive World Cup.

To read more Rugby World Cup History click here

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