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Our Rugby World Cup project manager, Louise Lee (along with rugby fans all over the world) couldn’t be more excited about the release of the match schedule. Time to reach for your 2019 diary…
I was up with the birds on 2nd November to make sure that I didn’t miss a thing – the announcement of the Rugby World Cup fixtures was to be live streamed from Japan. Despite being thousands of miles away, and 9 hours behind, the anticipation had certainly found its way to the UK.
Glued to the screen, I saw Bill Beaumont, chairman of World Rugby (and English rugby legend) take the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech. He celebrated the tournament’s first time in Asia; in his words: ‘it promises to be a ground-breaking Rugby World Cup […] a shining example of new beginnings’. Having recently returned from Japan, I couldn’t agree more.
The match schedule had been long-awaited, and as I watched them announce each fixture I certainly wasn’t disappointed! Key matches span the length and breadth of the country with at least two at each of the stadiums. A great opportunity for international visitors to experience all sides of Japan; from big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, to off the beaten track options like Japan’s smallest island, Shikoku.
Of course, Tokyo is still the star of the show and will be hosting the opening ceremony on 20th September, as well as Japan v Europe 1, France v Argentina, Australia v Wales, England v Argentina, Quarter Finals 2&4 and the Bronze Final.
On its heels is the Yokohama International Stadium (a short train ride from the capital) where four major pool matches, the Semi-Finals, and the Final on 2nd November will be taking place. I am so pleased that Sapporo is hosting England’s first clash against Tonga on 22nd September – it promises to draw quite a crowd. Those heading to this match can also spend a few days exploring Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, home to some of Japan’s loveliest areas of natural beauty.
All in all, the fixtures and locations have caused a rumble of excited chatter, not least of all in the InsideJapan Tours office. I, for one, really cannot wait.
The full match schedule can be found at the official Rugby World Cup website.
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Japan, catch the best of the turning leaves, wherever you are in the country, with this handy guide.