Hosts Japan outclass Russia to claim victory in Rugby World Cup opener

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live coverage of the first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, with hosts Japan taking on Russia from Tokyo.

Click here for the full match report.

12:44am: FULLTIME - Japan 30 Russia 10

Into the final minute, Russia with ball in hand - they've got a penalty advantage too. The gong goes. This will be the last play.

Gaisin kicks for the sideline, we'll have a lineout.

Matveev throws and Russia win it. Gadzhiev runs before being taken down. Russia look to go wide, but the pass is intercepted by Matsuda.

He kicks into touch to seal Japan's victory to begin their home tournament.

12:39am: 79 mins - Japan 30 Russia 10

Another knock on from Japan. Russian scrum, Perov feeds. Gaisin kicks over the top and the ball dribbles into touch. Japan will have a lineout deep in their own half, Russia with a chance to put some real pressure on.

Sakate throws for Japan, Moore takes it and Japan want to run, before the ball goes back to Yamanaka - who clears into touch himself.

12:36am: 75 mins - Japan 30 Russia 10

Japan scrum inside their own half, and they want to run it own. The ball goes back to Yamanaka - who belts it into touch for a Russian lineout.

Japan have the ball back after a box kick from Perov. Tanaka gets an offload away to Yamanaka, who breaks the line and beats a few, before Tanaka knocks on trying to play the ball.

12:31am: 71 mins - Japan 30 Russia 10

TRY!!! Japan now try to run from inside their 22, before Tanaka goes to the air. Gadzhiev knocks on while fighting Matsushima in the air. Japan scrum. Tanaka feeds and Japan go blind, the ball is in touch though before Japan take the quick lineout.

Russia turn it over, before Japan win it back. Tanaka's box kick isn't in touch, and Russia scramble back.

The kick from Artemyev deflects off the oncoming defender, allowing Japan to get the ball to Matsushima. The winger beats everyone, and scores his third of the night. Crazy passage of play.

Replacement first-five Matsuda's kick is straight down the middle. Japan now ahead by 20.

12:24pm: 65 mins - Japan 23 Russia 10

Penalty! Gadzhiev gives away a penalty, and Japan want the points from a decent way out.

Tamura lines up the kick, it'll be more about power than placement. No issue though, slotted right down the middle.

Japan's lead now back to 13 points.

12:19am: 61 mins - Japan 20 Russia 10

Penalty! Russia scrum. Vavilin runs off the back. The number eight has another crack, but is smashed by Japan's defence. Kushnarev goes to the air where Artemyev wins it.

Advantage Russie. Dorofeev goes for the box kick, nothing gained, we'll go back for the penalty. Russia want the points now.

Kushnarev lines up the kick, and hits it straight down the middle.

Elsewhere, Fumi Tanaka comes on as replacement halfback.

12:14am: 57 mins - Japan 20 Russia 7

Russia want the scrum right on Japan's line. Dorofeev feeds, and Russia's scrum does the job. Gorosnitsky has a run at the line in search of his second, but is taken down.

Russia camped right on the line, but Labuschagne wins the penalty! Desperate defence from Japan, but no urgency at all from Russia.

12:10am: 55 mins - Japan 20 Russia 7

Russia win the scrum penalty, and will have a lineout deep inside Japan's territory.

Selskii throws, they shape to drive before the forwards want to run it up the guts. Russia building the phases on the Japanese line, the hosts called for offside to give away advantage.

We will stop for the penalty though.

12:06am: 51 mins - Japan 20 Russia 7

Russia scrum. They throw it wide before Leitch steals it, Japan look to go wide now, but they lose the ball forward.

Another scrum for Russia then.

12:03am: 48 mins - Japan 20 Russia 7

TRY!!! Nagare goes for a box kick, which Artemyev takes before being smashed in the tacke. Russia try a box kick now, Tupou takes it. Tamura goes for the chip and chase, but Russia take it cleanly.

Hang on a sec - Labuschagne steals the ball at the breakdown, and will race away to score! That came from nowhere!!!

Ostrikov can't take the ball to ground as Labushagne steals it, before racing 50m to score. 

Tamura can't land the kick though.

11:59pm: 44 mins - Japan 15 Russia 7

Penaty! Japan will all the running to start the second half. They'll have a scrum after Russia knock the ball on.

Nagare feeds before Nakamura tries the crash ball. Russia don't roll away and give away a penalty. What do Japan do? They want the points.

Tamura makes no mistake as Japan extend their lead to start the second spell.

11:55pm: 41 mins - Japan 12 Russia 7

Japan get the ball rolling. Dorofeev has passed his HIA.


We're back! Both sides out on the park in Tokyo, second half to get underway shortly.

11:39pm: HALFTIME - Japan 12 Russia 7

There's a gong instead of a halftime whistle. Nagare doesn't need a second invitation, kicking into touch to bring the first half to a close.

11:38pm: 40 mins - Japan 12 Russia 7

TRY!!! Japan throw and now want the lineout drive! The Russians bring the drive down and Japan try to run. 

Leitch makes some more metres, before Nakamura tries to step his way through - unsuccessfully. Japan through 10 phases and go wide to Lameki, before he's taken down.

The forwards go for the pick-and-go, before Japan go wide to the right. Tamura cries for the ball, gets it and finds Nakamura. Nakamura gets the offload away to Matsushima and he goes over!

No problem with the kick this time either! Japan now in front by five!

11:33pm: 37 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Russian scrum on their own five-metre line. Perov feeds as replacement halfback. Russia win the ball but Perov is tackled, there's no one to clear with a box kick so Russia try to move the ball. 

Perov tries the box kick, but gets smashed. Russia still can't get the ball away. Perov has another go at clearing and this time gets it.

11:31pm: 35 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Russia run off the back of their own scrum, before Kushnarev kicks the ball out on the full. Sloppy.

Japan lineout. Leitch knocks the ball back to Lemeki - who beats four defenders as Japan make good ground. Nagare slips through, and Japan just have to spread the ball!

Nagare finds Moore who throws a wide pass to Matsushima. The winger dives for the corner and claims the try! We'll check the TMO, but referee Nigel Owens says try.

It looks like Matsushima has lost it - but we see these go either way. This time it'll be no try! Boos from the crowd.

11:27pm: 33 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Short break now just to give both sides a bit of a breather. Dorofeev feeds, Geresimov runs from first receiver. The bomb goes up from Russia and Japan can't hang on.

Lafaele loses the ball in the tackle. Russia scrum. Dorofeev goes off for a concussion test.

11:24pm: 32 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Another game of forceback breaks out, before Russia claim the bouncing ball. Gerasimov goes on a run, before giving Japan possession back.

Japan break as Tamura and Lafaele combine down the left. Davydov does well though to force a knock on in the tackle. Russia kick the ball away, but we go back for the advantage.

Russia look absolutely knackered.

11:21pm: 29 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Russia win their lineout, before Japan turn over and can't hang on to the ball. They finally manage to bring the ball under control before Nagare kicks into touch.

Lineout for Russia and they do well to win it before a line break. Japan get back in numbers. Russia go right. 

Ostroushko can't hang on to a pass, before Lemeki puts a bomb up. Gerasimov claims and runs at the line, but his foot was in touch.

11:17pm: 27 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Russia scrum. Dorofeev feeds, Russia want to run from inside their own 22 before Dorofeev clears into touch.

Japan lineout. Leitch claims. Japan keeping ball in hand as they move into the 22, before Russia claim with a counter-ruck! The kick goes through from Ostroushko, but Michael Leitch does well to save the try!

The ball goes back to Tamura who clears.

11:14pm: 24 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Japan lineout, and they go deep. They choose to keep the ball in hand though as Leitch makes good ground down the right flank.

They go wide again, but the whistle blows for knock on, Nakamura throws a forward pass after gettting clobbered bu Ostroushko. Moore doesn't hear the whistle, runs away for the try. The crowd go nuts, but we come back for the penalty.

11:11pm: 22 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Japan knock on, advantage Russia. Dorofeev goes for the box kick, and Russia knock it back. Dorofeev has another go, and this time runs. The ball goes back to Kushnarev who puts the bomb up.

Tamura claims brilliantly, before stepping the oncoming defender, running at the line and winning a penalty as Russia don't roll away.

11:09pm: 20 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Japan lineout. Horie throws, and Moore takes. Japan want to run the ball again, before Tamura kicks deep. 

Artemyev fields the kick, before sending it back. We're playing forceback now. Russia kick deep, but Matsushima struggles to stay in touch, giving away a lineout.

Selskii throws, Japan contest and the Russian hooker ends up taking his own throw. Russia try to get some front foot ball to the forwards, but they've knocked it on. Lafaele kicks downfield for Japan, before Russia return fire straight into touch.

11:06pm: 17 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

Japan knock on from another kick off, Russian scrum. Dorofeev feeds, and Kushnarev goes for the cross field kick. Tamura claims it and Japan can have a go.

Japan kick and this time Russia want to run. Dorofeev goes for the box kick and Tupou hangs on. Japan want to go wide, Tamura puts a kick through. Dorofeev returns fire to Tupou. Japan kick back. 

Davydov tries to chip and chase, but his effort dribbles into touch. 

11:01pm: 14 mins - Japan 5 Russia 7

TRY!!! Japan get their lineout right this time and look to move the ball. Nakamura goes on a brilliant run before being taken down. They go wide to the right, and Lafaele hits Tupou with an offload, he finds Matsushima and the winger scores! Brilliant from Japan!

Tamura with his first kick of the night, but he shapes it too far to the left. Russia ahead by two.

10:58pm: 11 mins - Japan 0 Russia 7

Japan knock on their own lineout, sloppy start from the hosts. Russia scrum.

Dorofeev feeds, abd Vavilin runs off the back from number eight. Kushnarev clears and Japan can run again.

Penalty advantage for Japan as Matsushima kicks through, Russia get back though, before giving away a penalty. Japan take the lineout.

10:56pm: 8 mins - Japan 0 Russia 7

Russia take the ball deep in their own half, before Dorofeev clears it with a box kick. Japan can attack now. A kick over the top has Golosnitsky racing back. Russia get out of danger though as Davydov clears into touch.

Japan lineout.

10:54pm: 7 mins - Japan 0 Russia 7

TRY!!! Japan scrum, Nagare feeds. Japan look to run from inside their own 22, before Tupou clears with his left, the ball's not out though. Russia return fire with a kick of their own - but Tupou spills it!

Golosnitsky is there to snap up the bouncing ball, and he's through to score! Russia stun the Tokyo crowd with the first try of the tournament.

The kick is flawless from Kushnarev!

10:51pm: 4 mins - Japan 0 Russia 0

Russia want the lineout rather than the three points. Selskii throws too far and Japan have the ball. The ball goes back to Tamura who looks to clear, but the kick is charged down!

Dorofeev looks to pounce on the loose ball, but can't get there in time. What a start for Russia so far!

10:49pm: 2 mins - Japan 0 Russia 0

Japan knock on from kick off, we have advantage before the ball goes out of play. Russia lineout.

Selskii throws, and Russia bring it down before looking to drive. Flat ball to Ostroushko who hits the line, Russia have advantage. Selskii has a run before Russia look to go wide, but we go back for the advantage.

10:47pm: KICKOFF - Japan 0 Russia 0

We're away in Tokyo! Kushnarev kicks to Japan to begin the 2019 Rugby World Cup.


Huge passion from both sides during the anthems. Great to see pockets of Russian fans too - 50,000 in for tonight's clash.

Kick off moments away!


Both teams walk out side by side, a sign of respect between the two teams. We'll have the anthems, before kick off gets Rugby World Cup 2019 underway!


Good evening! We've just had the opening ceremony, and now are all set to kick off Rugby World Cup 2019.

We're around 20 minutes away from kick off in Tokyo, as the hosts look to make a statement to begin their own tournament.


After all the talk, after all the hype, the 2019 Rugby World Cup finally begins, with hosts Japan taking on minnows Russia.

With Kiwi coach Jamie Joseph at the helm, Japan are out to show they belong with rugby's big boys, hoping to emerge as quarter-finalists from a pool also containing Ireland and Scotland.

Russia meanwhile, come in to the tournament as one of the weaker nations in the global game, conceding a whopping 24 tries and 162 points from their three warm up matches.

It's also worth noting that Russia only qualified for Japan 2019 after European rivals Romania were disqualified for fielding inelligible players.


Japan: 15. William Tupou, 14. Kotaro Matsushima, 13. Timothy Lafaele, 12. Ryoto Nakamura, 11. Lomano Lava Lemeki, 10. Yu Tamura, 9. Yutaka Nagare, 8. Kazuki Himeno, 7. Pieter Labuschagne, 6. Michael Leitch (c), 5. James Moore, 4. Wimpie van der Walt, 3. Asaeli Ai Valu, 2. Shote Horie, 1. Keita Inagaki

Reserves: 16. Atsushi Sakate, 17. Isileli Nakajima, 18. Jiwon Koo, 19. Luke Thompson, 20. Hendrik Tui, 21. Fumiaki Tanaka, 22. Rikiya Matsuda, 23. Ryohei Yamanaka.

Russia: 15. Vasily Artemyev (c), 14. German Davydov, 13. Vladimir Ostroushko, 12. Dmitry Gerasimov, 11. Kirill Golosnitskiy, 10. Yury Kushnarev, 9. Vasily Dorofeev, 8. Nikita Vavilin, 7. Tagir Gadzhiev, 6. Vitaly Zhivatov, 5. Bogdan Fedotko, 4. Andrey Ostrikov, 3. Krill Gotovstev, 2. Stanislav Selskii, 1. Valery Morozov.

Reserves: 16 Evgeny Matveev, 17 Andrei Polivalov, 18 Azamat Bitiev, 19 Andrey Garbuzov, 20 Anton Sychev, 21 Dmitry Perov, 22 Ramil Gaisin, 23 Vladislav Sozonov

Japan's Shota Horie is tackled against Russia Source: Associated Press