A LOT has happened across the globe during the two years and one month since the Brave Blossoms sent Scotland tumbling out of the 2019 World Cup. It has been a period of almost unprecedented uncertainty and upheaval in modern global history. 

However, for the Japan rugby team, the big problem is that not enough has happened during this period, with the national team lying idle for the next 20 months during the long peak of the pandemic period, before eventually returning to action as the warm-up act for the Lions at Murrayfield in June ahead of their 2021 summer tour to South Africa. 

Having lost that match, 28-10, Japan then lost 39-31 to a scratch Ireland team in Dublin the following weekend, before disappearing off into hibernation again for another three and a half months leading up to this Autumn Test series. 

Now, during the last month, they have played three more matches, emerging with their heads held high from a 23-32 home loss against Australia, then suffering a painful 60-5 mauling by Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, and the securing a battling 25-38 victory over minnows Portugal last weekend. 

That’s a grand total of five international matches since the World Cup, with a 20 percent win ratio (thanks to one win over 19th in the world Portugal), seeing Japan fall from 8th in the world to 10th.

Meanwhile, during the same timeframe, Scotland have managed to play 17 games with a 58 percent win rate, which is hardly an earth-shattering return but does include the scalps of Australia, England, France twice and Wales - seeing them rise from 9th to 7th in the world rankings.  

With home advantage, Scotland will come into this match as firm favourites, but Japan head coach Jamie Joseph insists that his players will benefit from all the pressure being on the hosts. 

“It [the lack of game time] is an uncontrollable, so we haven't really worried too much about it, but it does highlight that we are behind in comparison to Scotland,” he said.

“Scotland have gone from strength to strength and have played some really good rugby in the Six Nations,” he added. “They beat Australia the other day and they were unlucky not to beat South Africa. They are a team that is growing and developing. But that creates a massive opportunity for us to play our footy at Murrayfield at the weekend. 

“Those Scotland players who were quite young during the World Cup are now experienced leaders within the team. On top of that, they are quite keen to run the ball and I think that's the way forward. For Scotland, it has proved to be very successful so it should be a really good match at the weekend.”