Russia's players take part in the captain's run training session at the Tokyo stadium in Tokyo, Sept 19, 2019, ahead of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
TOKYO — The 2019 Rugby World Cup begins here Friday evening as hosts Japan take on Russia to get Rugby's showpiece event underway.
The three big favorites, defending champions New Zealand, current Rugby Championship victors South Africa, and the other side from the northern hemisphere to win the tournament England are leading the way as the teams to watch out for
Four years on from the World Cup in England, the Webb Ellis Trophy is heading to Asia for the first time. It is also the first time that the tournament has been hosted outside one of rugby's tier-one nations.
This year's edition of the world's third most-watched sporting event (after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics) is set to be one of the most open in decades as a number of other nations competing all hold hopes of winning the tournament.
The three big favorites, defending champions New Zealand, current Rugby Championship victors South Africa, and the other side from the northern hemisphere to win the tournament England are leading the way as the teams to watch out for.
While the current number one ranked side in the world, Ireland, are desperate to win their first World Cup after four years of quality and consistency.
Alongside them are Wales, Scotland, and Australia who are all holding out hopes to also make history and win rugby's biggest prize.
Outside the favorites, Japan will take their own tournament as an opportunity to grow and spread the sport in the nation. Four years ago, the Japanese shocked the world by beating South Africa in one of the biggest upsets ever in the game and Japan can use this World Cup to inspire a new generation of players and fans.
The game's administrators, World Rugby, will certainly be looking for Japan to repeat their heroics of four years ago, as a key aim for the tournament is to see the sport expand and grow in Asia.
Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Samoa
Fri 20 Sep Japan v Russia (Tokyo)
Sun 22 Sep Ireland v Scotland (Yokohama)
Tue 24 Sep Russia v Samoa (Kumagaya)
Sat 28 Sep Japan v Ireland (Shizuoka)
Mon 30 Sep Scotland v Samoa (Kobe)
Thu 3 Oct Ireland v Russia (Kobe)
Sat 5 Oct Japan v Samoa (Toyota)
Wed 9 Oct Scotland v Russia (Shizuoka)
Sat 12 Oct Ireland v Samoa (Fukuoka)
Sun 13 Oct Japan v Scotland (Yokohama)
New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Namibia, Canada
Sat 21 Sep New Zealand v South Africa (Yokohama)
Sun 22 Sep Italy v Namibia (Osaka)
Thu 26 Sept Italy v Canada (Fukuoka)
Sat 28 Sep South Africa v Namibia (Toyota)
Wed 2 Oct New Zealand v Canada (Oita)
Fri 4 Oct South Africa v Italy (Shizuoka
Sun 6 Oct New Zealand v Namibia (Tokyo)
Tue 8 Oct South Africa v Canada (Kobe)
Sat 12 Oct New Zealand v Italy (Toyota)
Sun 13 Oct Namibia v Canada (Kamaishi)
England, France, Argentina, USA, Tonga
Sat 21 Sep France v Argentina (Tokyo)
Sun 22 Sep England v Tonga (Sapporo)
Thu 26 Sep England v USA (Kobe)
Sat 28 Sep Argentina v Tonga (Osaka)
Wed 2 Oct France v USA (Fukuoka)
Sat 5 Oct England v Argentina (Tokyo)
Sun 6 Oct France v Tonga (Kumamoto)
Wed 9 Oct Argentina v USA (Kumagaya)
Sat 12 Oct England v France (Yokohama)
Sun 13 Oct USA v Tonga (Osaka)
Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, Uruguay
Sat 21 Sep Australia v Fiji (Sapporo)
Mon 23 Sep Wales v Georgia (Toyota)
Wed 25 Sep Fiji v Uruguay (Kamaishi)
Sun 29 Sep Georgia v Uruguay (Kumagaya)
Sun 29 Sep Australia v Wales (Tokyo)
Thu 3 Oct Georgia v Fiji (Osaka)
Sat 5 Oct Australia v Uruguay (Oita)
Wed 9 Oct Wales v Fiji (Oita)
Fri 11 Oct Australia v Georgia (Shizuoka)
Sun 13 Oct Wales v Uruguay (Kumamoto)
Sat 19 Oct QF1 Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D (Oita)
Sat 19 Oct QF2 Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A (Tokyo)
Sun 20 Oct QF3 Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C (Oita)
Sun 20 Oct QF4 Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B (Tokyo)
Sat 26 Oct Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 (Yokohama)
Sun 27 Oct Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 (Yokohama)
Fri 1 Nov Third-place Play-off (Tokyo)
Sat 2 Nov RWC 2019 Final (Yokohama)
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