Joe Schmidt: Drawing Japan is "incredibly exciting"

The Ireland head coach was speaking in Kyoto after the 2019 World Cup draw

BY Daniel Kelly 12:37 Wednesday 10 May 2017, 12:37 10 May 2017

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Getty/Dave Rogers/World Rugby Pool Images

Joe Schmidt has spoken about his excitement at Ireland being drawn with Japan ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

The two teams could face off in the opening match of the tournament in 2019, after they were drawn together in Pool A alongside Scotland and two qualifiers. Schmidt revealed after the draw that it was "incredibly exciting" to be paired with the hosts of the tournament.

"The crowd, the enthusiasm and the interest in that game is going to be huge", Schmidt added. The teams have previously met in the World Cup in 1991 and 1995, with Ireland winning on both occasions. 

In five matches against the Asian side, Ireland are unbeaten against the Brave Blossoms. The teams meet in a two Test series this summer in Japan.

"It's very hard to access where teams are going to be in two years time", Schmidt admitted, as Ireland still await on two of their potential opponents. 'Europe 1' and 'Play-Off Winner' have yet to be decided.

"I think the [Europe 1] winner could be Romania most likely... [The Play-Off Winner] could well be Tonga, Samoa or Fiji. They have traditionally got through and have had strong representation in previous World Cups."

The fixtures will be released in September, with Ireland hoping to match their Pool-winning performance at the 2015 World Cup.

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