The whistle for the opening match between Japan and Russia has been delivered by two cyclists who travelled to Japan from London
2019 Rugby World Cup
Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September to 2 November
Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app. Live television coverage on ITV.

The world’s top rugby nations are poised for the start of the Rugby World Cup with the outcome as uncertain as any of the previous eight editions.

New Zealand have won the past two World Cups, but Ireland are currently ranked as the best team in the world.

A resurgent South Africa won the Rugby Championship earlier this year, while Wales took the Six Nations in March.

England have won 10 of their last 14, while Australia’s minimum target is a repeat of their 2015 run to the final.

Argentina, semi-finalists in two of the last three tournaments, talented Scotland, Fiji and France teams and hosts Japan are among those hoping to derail the title ambitions of the leading contenders.

“I think this is the most open World Cup we’ve had for a long time. There are six or seven teams capable of winning the World Cup,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Rugby World Cup opening weekend
Friday 20 September 11:45 BST Japan v Russia
Saturday 21 September 05:45 BST Australia v Fiji
08:15 BST France v Argentina
10:45 BST New Zealand v South Africa
Sunday 22 September 06:15 BST Italy v Namibia
08:45 BST Ireland v Scotland
11:15 BST England v Tonga

“You always need a little bit of luck. You get to the quarter-finals and then take it one game at a time.”

North to be exposed once again?


Read more: