Group opener v Ireland
Scotland handed tough World Cup start
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend faces a tough opening fixture in the 2019 Rugby World Cup (pic: SNS Group)
Any hopes Gregor Townsend may have had of a straight-forward start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan have been dashed with Scotland being handed a tough opening match against Ireland.
The Pool A clash will go ahead at the International Stadium in Yokohama on 22 September, the same ground where the final will be staged.
The Scots return to the city for their final group game against the hosts on Sunday, 13 October.
The two remaining opponents in the pool will be known once the qualification process has been completed.
The Scots will face the European qualifiers, with Romania, Spain, Germany and Russia all battling it out. Next summer they will know their fourth opponent as they face the winners of the cross-continental play-off between Samoa and the European runners-up, which is played in June 2018.
Whoever wins Pool A will face the runner-up from Pool B, which includes New Zealand, South Africa and Italy. The runner-up from Pool A will take on the winner of Pool B.
Other eye-catching group openers in the ninth Rugby World Cup include the All Blacks locking horns with South Africa.
France kick-off their Pool C fixtures against Argentina, while England take on Tonga.
Two-time champions Australia, runners up in 2015, open against Fiji in Pool D, while Wales will take on Georgia.
The tournament runs from 20 September to 2 November, 2019.
Scotland’s 2019 Rugby World Cup schedule
22 September: v Ireland, International Stadium, Yokohama (kick-off 16:45)
30 September: v Play-off winners, Noevir Stadium, Kobe (kick-off 19:15)
9 October: v Europe 1 qualifiers, Shizuoka Stadium, Fukuroi City (kick-off 16:15)
13 October: v Japan, International Stadium, Yokohama (kick-off 19:45)
Saturday 19 October: Pool B winner v Pool A runner-up, Tokyo Stadium (kick-off 19.15)
Sunday 20 October: Pool A winner v Pool B runner-up, Tokyo Stadium (kick-off 19.15)
Saturday 26 October and Sunday 27 October, International Stadium, Yokohama (kick-off 18:00)
Saturday 2 November, International Stadium, Yokohama (kick-off 18:00)