TOKYO, Japan - New Zealand will begin their quest for a third successive Rugby World Cup title with a heavyweight clash against South Africa at the 2019 tournament in Japan.
The All Blacks are scheduled to face their old southern hemisphere foes in Yokohama on September 21, a day after hosts Japan kick off the competition against Europe's top qualifier, likely to be Romania, organisers announced in Tokyo on Thursday.
France, drawn in the so-called "Group of Death" alongside England and Argentina, also open their campaign on September 21 with a key Pool C fixture against the Pumas in Tokyo.
Title contenders England take on Tonga in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo the following day.
Two-time champions Australia face a potentially tricky opener against Fiji in Pool D, where Wales open against Georgia.
Matches will be played at 12 venues including Kamaishi in northeast Japan, which was ravaged by the 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster.