Twickenham - New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said the reigning champions' title
defence would "get off to a bang" after they were drawn against old
rivals South Africa for their opening game of the 2019 World Cup.
All Blacks will begin their quest for a third straight World Cup title
when they take on the Springboks in Yokohama on September 21, a day
after hosts Japan launch the tournament against a yet to be decided
READ: Coetzee: Boks v All Blacks RWC 2019 opener 'huge'
expected it," Hansen told reporters at New Zealand's Twickenham hotel on
Thursday ahead of the All Blacks' European tour opener against the
Barbarians at 'headquarters' this weekend.
"It's a good way to
start the tournament," added Hansen following the announcement by World
Cup organisers in Tokyo earlier on Thursday.
"It's something to
look forward to. The key thing is we now know where we're playing, and
next is to sort out where we train and play," he added.
tournament wants to get off to a bang, so why not play the two (big
teams in the first match)? That's the big game for the first
"It's either going to be us, or France and England
(paired together in a tough Pool C, the so-called 'group of death'), it
looks like we drew the marble, so get on with it."
Steve Tew, the
chief executive of the New Zealand Rugby Union, welcomed the draw,
saying: "It's exciting that the match schedule has been announced and is
another big milestone in the All Blacks' preparation for Rugby World
"With two years out, today's announcement begins to
really bring to life the tournament for players and fans. All Blacks
fans can now begin to start planning their travel and find out how to
get tickets to the matches," added Tew, also with the tour squad in
New Zealand and South Africa have traditionally been
regarded as rugby union's two pre-eminent countries for much of its
146-year history as an international sport.
At the end of union's
amateur era in 1995, South Africa - who had beaten the All Blacks in
that year's World Cup final in Johannesburg - had won 21 matches
against New Zealand, lost 18 and drawn three.
has seen New Zealand pull away in the head-to-head record, with the All
Blacks now leading the Springboks 57-35 in 95 Tests - the three draws
the only constant.
September saw New Zealand, the Rugby
Championship winners, thrash South Africa by an astonishing 57-0 in
Albany only for the Boks, a few weeks later in the southern hemisphere
tournament, to push the All Blacks hard before going down by just a
point in a 25-24 loss in Cape Town last month.
In World Cups
where New Zealand haven't emerged as champions, previous All Blacks
coaches have complained about a lack of sufficiently tough pool games
prior to the knockout stages.
But Hansen, a former Wales coach, accepts that won't be an issue in Japan.
"I don't know whether we like it or not but that's what we're doing," he said.
"It won't be easy, no. It is what it is."
the Springboks match, New Zealand will face the yet-to-be determined
Repechage Winner and Africa 1 teams in Oita and Tokyo on October 2 and
October 6 respectively, before concluding their pool campaign against
Italy in Toyota on October 12.