Japan will take on "Europe 1" -- the top team from European qualifying, most likely Romania -- in the opening game of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, organizers announced Thursday.


The game will be played on Sept. 20 at Tokyo Stadium, currently known as Ajinomoto Stadium.

The Brave Blossoms, who have been drawn in Pool A, will then play Ireland on Sept. 28 at Shizuoka's Ecopa Stadium before heading to Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture. There, Japan will face the winner of a playoff between the No. 2 qualifier from Europe and Samoa -- on Oct. 5.

Jamie Joseph's side then wrap up their pool campaign in Yokohama on Oct. 13 against Scotland.

"It gives us finality," Joseph said of the draw. "It gives us certainty of where we play, who we play and what times we play."

"It's very exciting as it feels the World Cup is drawing near and allows us to start planning with more detail."

At a lavish ceremony in Tokyo, Japan Rugby 2019, the local organizing committee, announced the full 48-game schedule, which culminates on Nov. 2 at Yokohama International Stadium, currently known as Nissan Stadium.

Rugby World Cup rules mean most of the stadiums will go by a different name for the duration of the tournament to comply with sponsorship rules.

"Today the tournament comes to life for the players and fans," said World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont. "The announcement of the match schedule and ticketing program will generate excitement as we all look ahead to a tournament that will break new ground as the first in Asia."

"We are grateful to the cities and venues who have been at the heart of this process and will play such a central role in welcoming the world to Japan. We know that this will be a special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Japan to welcome the world to the whole of this great nation and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for rugby fans from around the world to experience all Japan has to offer."

Every one of the 12 venues will host at least two games, with Yokohama hosting the prime pool games.

In addition to the Japan-Scotland game, the seaside port -- where rugby was first played in Japan in 1866 -- will host the New Zealand-South Africa Pool B game on Sept. 21, Ireland vs Scotland a day later and the Pool C game between France and England on Oct. 13.

Yokohama will also host the two semifinals in addition to the final.

In one slight surprise, Oita Stadium will host two quarterfinals, while the two other Round of 8 games will be held in Tokyo.

Though Joseph was not thinking that far ahead.

"If we get to the top eight it would be like winning the World Cup," the former All Black and Japan international said. "If we play New Zealand that would be great but I have no thoughts into who we play."

The 12 venues cover the length and breadth of Japan and the northern city of Sapporo in Hokkaido will host Australia and Fiji in Pool D on Sept. 21 and England and Tonga a day later.

Kamaishi city in Iwate Prefecture has been awarded two games as it looks to use the event to help it recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Fiji will play America 2 on Sept. 25 and Africa 1 will play the winner of the repechage on Oct. 13.

Fifteen teams have already qualified for the tournament with the other five set to be decided in 2018 through a series of regional qualifiers and playoff tournaments.

At the same event, organizers also announced details of the ticketing program, saying a "phased ballot ticket sale" will begin on Jan. 19.

Approximately 1.8 million tickets will be available for the 48 matches with the cheapest adult tickets starting at 2,019 yen and child tickets from 1,000 yen.

"We are expecting 400,000 overseas visitors who tend to stay an average of 21 nights and inject $3.6 billion into the economy," said RWC Ltd. CEO Alan Gilpin.