Japan Rugby Team
Japan will look to cause a second shock in as many games against Scotland. Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup restarts with Scotland's opening game against a Japan side looking to build on their shock win over South Africa.

Where to watch

Scotland vs Japan kicks off at 2:30pm BST on Wednesday 24 September. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live.


Seven days ago, as the globe was waiting to welcome the eighth Rugby World Cup, Scotland's opening match against Japan looked like a nice way to ease into a tournament which followed the countries' disastrous Six Nations campaign. Who would have thought than on the eve of their first pool match that the meeting with Eddie Jones' side now represents as daunting a match as any in this year's competition and could see ambitions of reaching the last eight snuffed out.

Victory for Japan over South Africa may have been for the underdog and ignited the World Cup but it also blows wide open Pool B. Scotland can now not afford to lose to the Japanese or risk scrapping for the wooden spoon with United States. Vern Cotter's side's progress was stifled during the Six Nations as they finished bottom of the table and were humbled by Ireland in their final game. Cotter has been forced into naming a full-strength for his team's bow in a response to Japan shocking the Springboks and his job may depend on it paying dividends.

Japan press conference
The world's media's interest in Japan has swelled since they beat South Africa. Getty Images

Though Jones has plenty of pedigree at this level, even he will have been surprised by the heroics in Brighton but after going from pool also-rans to quarter-final contenders, the Aussie will be keen to maintain the momentum. Victory over a Scotland side, who Japan have gone above in the new world rankings, will give his side a real chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage for the first time.

Japan may have made six changes to their starting XV from the win over South Africa, but having had just three days' rest in between matches it makes them potentially leg-weary and gives Scotland a major advantage heading into the final 20 minutes. If the Scots can cling on until the latter stages they should pull away, but they should beware becoming the latest victims of Japan's all-action style.


Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Mark Bennett,12. Matt Scott, 11. Sean Lamont, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw (c), 1. Alasdair Dickinson, 2. Ross Ford, 3. Willem Nel, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson, 7. John Hardie, 8. David Denton.

Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Ryan Grant, 18. Jon Welsh, 19. Richie Gray, 20. Josh Strauss, 21. Henry Pyrgos, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Sean Maitland.

Japan: 15. Ayumu Goromaru, 14. Kotaro Matsushima, 13. Male Sa'u, 12. Yu Tamura, 11. Kenki Fukuoka, 10. Harumichi Tatekawa; 9. Fumiako Tanaka; 1. Keita Inagaki, 2. Shota Horie, 3. Hiroshi Yamashita, 4. Luke Thompson, 5. Justin Ives, 6. Michael Leitch, 7. Michael Broadhurst, 8. Amanaki Mafi.

Replacements: 16. Takeshi Kizu, 17. Masataka Mikami, 18. Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19. Shinya Makabe, 20. Shoji Ito, 21. Hendrik Tui, 22. Atsushi Hiwasa, 23. Karne Hesketh.

What the coaches say

Vern Cotter: "Watching Japan perform certainly gave me a little bit less sleep that night. I think everyone was thinking the same thing, that they'd tire and be dominated by South Africa towards the end. It simply didn't happen. You watched the whole thing unravel and it was very sobering.

"But it didn't really teach us anything, it simply reinforced what we already knew. They did most things that we've seen but they have added a couple of other aspects. Maybe it was the steel in their commitment that surprised one or two people.

"They showed terrific drive and determination to get the win. They could have taken the three points and settled for the draw but instead they went for the win. Everybody admired that. Their overall game spoke volumes for their intentions in this World Cup."

Vern Cotter
Cotter has escaped scrutiny before Scotland's opening game. Getty Images

Eddie Jones: "We've got the most important game of the tournament against Scotland. As you know we've only had a short turnaround which we're well used to so we're going to be well-prepared for the game. We've made a number of changes, brought in Amanaki (Lelei Mafi) at No 8, Kosei (Ono) the stand-off has a slight groin injury. We're really looking forward to the game."

"If the players can't get excited after Saturday I don't know what's going to excite them. They're excited, so I don't have to worry in that regard. Motivation is not an issue. We've dress-rehearsed this (short turnaround) probably three times over the last two years.

"These guys can do it. Japanese players are enormously resilient. It's interesting that before the tournament Scotland said we were going to tank the first game. So if we did tank the first game we've got a good performance coming up in our second."

Other fixtures:

4:45pm: Australia vs Fiji

8:00pm: France vs Romania