Rugby journalist Koichi Murakami (2nd R) and freelance announcer Takeshi Yano (R) announce the match between New Zealand and South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2019 match schedule announcement in Tokyo on November 2, 2017. / AFP
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Champions New Zealand will kick off their World Cup title defense with a heavyweight clash against South Africa, organizers said on Thursday, the only first round match between former tournament winners.Organizers on Thursday announced the schedule for all 48 matches at the ninth Rugby World Cup, to be held Sept. 20 to Nov. 2, 2019, as well as their ticketing program.In Pool B, Italy will play yet to be determined sides in its first two matches before meeting South Africa and New Zealand.Tickets will go on sale in phases starting Jan. 19, 2018, with some 1.8 million tickets expected to be available for the 48 matches.
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