Paris – Japan will open its 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign in France against the second-ranked team from the Americas qualifying tournament before clashing with heavyweight England and former coach Eddie Jones, World Rugby announced Friday.
The Brave Blossoms will play their opener on Sept. 10 in Toulouse and travel to Nice to meet England a week later. They will be back in Toulouse on Sept. 28 to face the Oceania qualifier winner — either Samoa or Tonga — before heading to Nantes for their final pool-stage match against Argentina on Oct. 8.
After coaching Japan to the last eight for the first time in 2019 as host nation, Jamie Joseph will try to take the current world No. 10 side one step further on foreign soil.
But Japan faces daunting matchups against third-ranked England and Jones, who took the Brave Blossoms to new heights at the 2015 tournament, as well as ninth-ranked Argentina, which overcame New Zealand in the Rugby Championship in November.
France will meet the three-time champion All Blacks in the blockbuster opening match of the tournament on Sept. 8 in Pool A. Reigning champion South Africa, with three trophies of its own, will open its title defense against Scotland on Sept. 10 in Pool B.
The tournament will feature 20 teams split into four pools of five, with the top two from each advancing to the quarterfinals.
World Rugby announced Monday it will extend the pool stage's duration by a week to ensure at least five days between each match for all teams, with the final pushed back to Oct. 28.
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