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Rugby World Cup 2019: Match schedule announced

The grand prize: The Webb Ellis Cup will be lifted in Yokahama on Saturday 2 November 2019. Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

All the fixture and venue information you need for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan


The 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan in less than two years’ time – and the match schedule has now been announced so we know who will play who, when and where.

The tournament will kick off with hosts Japan playing Europe 1 at Tokyo Stadium on Friday 20 September 2019 while defending champions New Zealand start their campaign against South Africa the following day in Yokohama.

Yokohama is also the venue for Ireland v Scotland on Sunday 22 September, while England’s first game is on the same day against Tonga in Sapporo. Wales are the last of the home nations to get their World Cup bid underway, playing Georgia on Monday 23 September in Aichi.

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There are 12 venues in all and each will stage a minimum of two games. With the eight/nine-hour time difference, the kick-off times in the UK will range from early morning to 11.45am, with the semi-finals and final due to start at 9am. Here’s the full match schedule…

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It’s refreshing to see more of the Tier One nations facing shorter turnarounds, something that has long been a criticism of the tournament schedule. England have a four-day turnaround between their games against Tonga and USA, which are played in two different cities, but Eddie Jones has experience of such a schedule from his time as Japan coach at RWC 2015.

Wales, too, have only a four-day gap between their final two group games against Fiji and Americas 2 while New Zealand have the same tight schedule for their matches against the Repechage Winner and Africa 1.

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World Rugby’s press release states: “At the heart of the match schedule is player welfare and fan experience. All match venues will be within 45 minutes of a team camp, while the match schedule has been developed to optimise rest days for Tier Two teams ahead of Tier One fixtures, enhancing preparation.

“The schedule has also been developed following team feedback post Rugby World Cup 2015 with an equitable match schedule a core principle and a significant improvement has been achieved within the framework of a four pool, five teams per pool format. No Tier Two team plays a Tier One team following a short rest period.”

Defending champs: Will New Zealand make it three World Cup wins in a row? Photo: Getty Images Rugby World

Ticket sales for the tournament will begin in January through supporter tours with tickets on general sale from September 2018. To find out all the details about the official ticketing programme, head to rugbyworldcup.com/tickets

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We know that this will be a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Japan to welcome the world to the whole of this great nation and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for rugby fans from around the world to experience all Japan has to offer.”

With less than two years to go, excitement is clearly building for the tournament and this month’s Tests provide the perfect warm-up with games like England v Argentina and Wales v Georgia holding extra significance given that they are also in the same World Cup groups. The countdown is on!

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