Harare, Zimbabwe(News of the South)-The Springboks will kick off their 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan with a blockbuster opening encounter against the reigning champions, New Zealand, on Saturday 21 September in the International Stadium Yokohama.

 

World Rugby announced the draw for RWC 2019 in Tokyo on Thursday morning (SA time) — the tournament will start on Friday, 20 September with a match between the hosts, Japan, and the qualifier from Europe. The tournament will culminate with the Final on 2 November 2019 in Yokohama.

 

South Africa, World Cup champions in 1995 and 2007, face three-time winners New Zealand in the first of four matches during the pool stages of the tournament.

 

The last time the Springboks and All Blacks clashed at the World Cup was in 2015, when New Zealand defeated South Africa by two points in an epic semi-final match at Twickenham in London, England. The Boks then overcame Argentina in the third-place playoff to clinch the bronze medal.

 

Following their huge opening encounter against their traditional rivals, the Springboks’ next group match is against the top qualifying team from Africa, on 28 September at the City of Toyota Stadium.

 

In their third group match, the Springboks play Italy on Friday, 4 October in the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa. Kickoff, as in the case of the first two matches, is set for 18h45 local time (11:45 SA time).

 

The Springboks finish their group fixtures four days later in the Kobe Misaki Stadium against the repechage winner, with this match starting at 19h15 (12:15 SA time).

 

In his reaction to the match schedule draw, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said the opener against New Zealand will be a huge match in every sense.

 

“We play the number one side in the world at the moment and we are aware how good they are,” said Coetzee.

 

“The Test match in Cape Town has given our players a lot of belief and if we keep on improving then it will make for an even more interesting match.

 

“We are really excited to meet them first up, there is a great and proud rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks and judging by past encounters between the two sides, this opening group match is bound to be another massive contest.”

 

The Springbok coach added his team has serious respect for Italy and the other two group contenders.

 

“If you look at the November Tests in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see how competitive each of those test matches are. We have a lot of respect for all the teams in our pool and it important to have prepared very well for each match.”

 

The quarter-finals are scheduled for 19 and 20 October (in Oita and Tokyo), followed by the two semi-finals on 26 and 27 October (both in Yokohama) and the bronze medal match on 1 November (in Tokyo).

 

The Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup match schedule is (all times CAT):

 

Saturday, 21 September: South Africa vs New Zealand, International Stadium Yokohama (11:45)
Saturday, 28 September: South Africa vs Africa 1, City of Toyota Stadium (11:45)
Friday, 4 October: South Africa vs Italy, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa (11:45)
Tuesday, 8 October: South Africa vs Repechage winner, Kobe Misaki Stadium (12:15)-ESPN

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