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Rugby World Cup 2019 Preview – The Biggest Pool Games

September 20, 2019

The Rugby World Cup starts in Japan today and the time difference means plenty of early kick-off times for UK fans. Here are the essential games that you need to see in the first week. So set that alarm clock, drag yourself to the sofa and grab a coffee (or beer).

France v Argentina – Saturday, September 21st, 8.15am (BST)

A monster tie in the early hours of the second day of the tournament. These two teams will hope to be competing at the business end. However, with England also in their group, it’s likely one of them is going to be disappointed. These are two evenly matched teams, and the loser will be in big trouble just hours into the World Cup.

Fun Fact: They met in the opening game of the 2007 World Cup in Paris, with Argentina stunning the hosts with a 17-12 win.

New Zealand v South Africa – Saturday, September 21st, 10.45am (BST)

The second mega clash of the morning. Both should qualify from the weakest pool regardless but don’t expect that to decrease the intensity. South Africa have no fear of the defending champions, and their most recent encounter was a 16-16 draw in Wellington in July. Two powerhouses with a huge dislike for each other, this game will rock Yokohama.

Fun Fact: These rivals have faced off 98 times, so a rematch in the final will be their 100th encounter.

Jack Goodhue Scores

Ireland v Scotland – Sunday, September 22nd, 8.45am (BST)

Two of the Six Nations giants go head-to-head in their first game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. There will be no room for mistakes with the tricky opposition of Japan and Samoa to come. The winner will likely avoid New Zealand in the quarter-final.

The loser will face a difficult task to even qualify from the group. Two of the best-supported teams will create a wonderful atmosphere in Tokyo.

Fun Fact: Ireland have never reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, despite reaching the quarter-finals on six occasions.

Australia v Wales – Sunday, 29th September, 8.45am (BST)

The luck of the draw always seems to pair these two big guns. Indeed, this will be their seventh meeting in the event. Australia took the honours four years ago in a group game in Twickenham on their way to the final.

Both should qualify from the group, but the reward for the winner of this game is huge.

The seedings suggest the winner will face France or Argentina in the quarter-final and possibly Ireland in the semi-final – a very manageable route. The runner-up will likely be tasked with having to beat England and New Zealand to reach the final… surely an impossible feat.

Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones has already lifted the Grand Slam trophy and the Six Nations Player of the Competition award this year. Lifting the Webb Ellis Cup as well could see him challenge cricket star Ben Stokes for BBC Sports Personality of The Year honours.

Fun Fact: Australia have won five games in succession against Wales in the World Cup.

About the author

Alan Penny
Alan Penny


Alan hails from Northern Ireland and is an avid fan of all sports. He has been with us since 2017 and serves as SBO’s Editor-in-Chief. Alan passionately covers everything from the latest regulatory developments across the globe to tips on the latest football matches.