Rugby World Cup 2019: Five games you must watch in Week One

If you don't have a real life, Rugby World Cup 2019 will certainly give you something to fill in your time over the next six weeks.

With 40 pool games and eight playoffs - and a relatively friendly time difference between NZ and Japan - you'll have very few nights off from your marathon rugby viewing.

But if you DO have a life and can't watch every game, here are the ones you should target during the tournament's opening week.

New Zealand v South Africa

9:45pm, Saturday, September 21

TAB: NZ $1.43, South Africa $2.65

If you were picking a game to showcase early in a World Cup tournament, this would be it - a clash between two rugby heavyweights.

Ali v Foreman, Rumble in the Jungle.

Last time they met in July, these two archrivals battled out a 16-16 in Wellington and New Zealand lost Brodie Retallick to a shoulder injury he's still recovering from.

Defeat wouldn't necessarily deal a deathblow to the losers' title hopes, but it would probably make the quarter-finals far more challenging. 

Ireland v Scotland

7:45pm, Sunday, September 22

TAB: Ireland $1.32, Scotland $3.15

By the end of this game, two quarter-final crossovers may already be decided, barring upsets along the way. 

While Japan may still have a trick or two up their sleeves, these northern rivals are odds-on to progress to knockout stages, where they'll likely meet the All Blacks or Springboks - pick your poison.  

Ireland won their last meeting 22-13 during the 2019 Six Nations, but historically, Scotland have a 67-63 edge, with five draws.

France v Argentina

7:15pm, Saturday, September 21

TAB: France $1.75, Argentina $2

The most evenly poised match of the week will pit world No.8 against world No.11, with the losers facing an uphill battle to make the knockout stages.

These two teams probably can't count on England capitulating like they did four years ago and will likely be scrapping for the second spot out of Pool C.

Somewhat surprisingly, they haven't met since June 2016, when they shared a two-game mid-year series in South America. France hold a 35-14 historical advantage, with one draw.

Australia v Fiji

4:45pm, Saturday, September 21

TAB: Australia $1.12, Fiji $5.75

Kiwi fans would love nothing more than watching our trans-Tasman neighbours stumble out of the blocks in Japan - and Fiji could be just the team for the occasion.

If the Wallabies rock up, thinking they will cruise through this one, they could be in for a rude awakening, at least for the first 40 minutes.

The Fijians have only beaten Australia twice ever and the last occasion was 1954, so don't hold your breath... but this still looms as potentially the biggest upset on opening weekend.

Japan v Russia

10:45pm, Friday, September 20

TAB: Japan $1.01, Russia $26

Face it, any other time, we couldn't care less about this match between these political and geographical rivals. Certainly, Russia have yet to challenge anyone of note in international rugby.

But hopes are high that the 'Brave Blossoms' can use this home tournament to finally crack the top echelon and while victory here wouldn't necessarily achieve that, it would give local fans something to cheer about, before their team take on Ireland and Scotland later in the schedule.

Essential Guide to 2019 Rugby World Cup

Everything you need to know about rugby and the World Cup...

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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