Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says their 2019 Rugby World Cup opener against the All Blacks will be a huge match in every sense.
READ: Full RWC 2019 match schedule
World Rugby announced the draw for the tournament in Tokyo on Thursday, with South Africa to face New Zealand in their opening Pool B match in Yokohama on Saturday, September 21, 2019.
“We play the number one side in the world at the moment and we are aware how good they are,” Coetzee said after Thursday's announcement.
The Bok mentor said their narrow 25-24 loss to the All Blacks at Newlands last month had given them confidence that they can match their arch-rivals.
“The Test match in Cape Town has given our players a lot of belief and if we keep on improving then it will make for an even more interesting match,” Coetzee said.
“We are really excited to meet them first up, there is a great and proud rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks and judging by past encounters between the two sides, this opening group match is bound to be another massive contest.”
Following their huge opening encounter against their traditional rivals, the Springboks’ next group match is against the top qualifying team from Africa, on Saturday, September 28 at the City of Toyota Stadium in Aichi.
In their third group match, the Springboks play Italy on Friday, October 4 in the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka. Kick-off, as in the case of the first two matches, is set for 11:45 SA time.
The Springboks finish their group fixtures four days later in the Kobe Misaki Stadium against the still-to-be-determined repechage winner, with this match starting at 12:15 SA time.
Coetzee added his team has serious respect for Italy and the other two group contenders: “If you look at the November Tests in the northern hemisphere, you will see how competitive each of those Test matches are. We have a lot of respect for all the teams in our pool and it important to have prepared very well for each match.”
Rugby World Cup 2019 pools:
Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, Playoff winner
Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, Repechage winner
Pool C: England, France, Argentina, USA, Tonga
Pool D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, Americas 2
The Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup match schedule (SA times):
Saturday, September 21: South Africa v New Zealand, International Stadium - Yokohama (11:45)
Saturday, September 28: South Africa v Africa 1, City of Toyota Stadium - Aichi (11:45)
Friday, October 4: South Africa v Italy, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa - Shizuoka (11:45)
Tuesday, October 8: South Africa v Repechage winner, Kobe Misaki Stadium - Kobe (12:15)