New Zealand to kick off World Cup defence v South Africa

South Africa's Malcolm Marx tackles New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

TOKYO (Reuters) – World champions New Zealand will kick off their title defence against South Africa at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, organisers said on Thursday, the only first round clash between former winners.

Hosts Japan will open Asia’s first Rugby World Cup against a yet to be determined European side in Pool A, with Ireland next on their schedule. Ireland will play Scotland in its first match.

In the “Pool of Death” Pool C, 2003 champions England will open against Tonga, while three times runners up France will begin its campaign against Argentina.

Twice champions Australia, runners up in 2015, will open Pool D play against Fiji, and Wales will take on Georgia.

Elsewhere in Pool B, Italy will play yet to be undetermined sides in its first two matches before meeting South Africa and New Zealand.

The ninth Rugby World Cup will be held from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2, 2019.

 

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by John O’Brien)

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com