All you need to know ahead of...

Japan v Russia

Home fans won't have to wait long to see their team in action, with host nation Japan meeting Russia in the first game of the Rugby World Cup.

Japan, coached by Kiwi Jamie Joseph, go into the match as overwhelming favourites to kick off their campaign with a win to their name. But if the last time the two sides met is anything to go by, the match might not be as one-sided as anticipated.

Japan and Russia met in November of 2018 where the Brave Blossoms had to produce a second-half comeback to take the win. However, this time around they're expected to benefit from a home advantage.


The temperatures throughout the World Cup are expected to be high and humidity will be high. Look for Japan to move the ball and force the Russians to burn their energy early.

Match details: Friday September 20, 10.45pm, Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo

Referee: Nigel Owens



William Tupou, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Lomano Lava Lemeki, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch (c), James Moore, Wimpie van der Walt, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shota Horie, Keita Inagaki.

Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Jiwon Koo, Luke Thompson, Hendrik Tui, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka.

Russia: Vasily Artemyev (c), German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov, Kirill Golosnitskiy, Yury Kushnarev, Vasily Dorofeev, Nikita Vavilin, Tagir Gadzhiev, Vitaly Zhivatov, Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Ostrikov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Stanislav Selskii, Valery Morozov.

Reserves: Evgeny Matveev, Andrei Polivalov, Azamat Bitiev, Andrey Garbuzov, Anton Sychev, Dmitry Perov, Ramil Gaisin, Vladislav Sozonov.


How to watch/stream

The Herald will have live updates of the match from 10.30pm, and will be live blogging the opening ceremony from 9pm. Spark Sport coverage starts at 9.20pm. Kickoff is at 10.45pm.


Japan and Russia have met six times prior to the World Cup opener, with Japan winning five to Russia's one. Russia's lone victory over the Brave Blossoms came in 2003.

Last time: Japan were victorious 32-27 over Russia in Gloucester on November 24, 2018.

Group standings