With global excitement building ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, World Rugby has announced the match official appointments for the 40 matches that comprise the tournament’s pool stage.

Nigel Owens will have the honour of refereeing the opening match at Rugby World Cup 2019 as hosts Japan take on Russia at Tokyo Stadium on 20 September, kicking-off a 44-day global celebration of rugby and its values.

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South Africa’s Jaco Peyper will mark a major milestone when he takes charge of Japan v Samoa at the City of Toyota Stadium on 5 October. Should he referee all scheduled test matches prior to the match, he will make his 50th test appearance.

Luke Pearce, Mathieu Raynal, Ben O’Keeffe, Nic Berry and Angus Gardner are making their Rugby World Cup debut with the whistle after impressive performances in the test arena and each will take charge of their first matches within the opening four days.

All match officials have been appointed to at least three pool matches and with matches taking place across 12 venues the length and breadth of Japan, the appointments reflect the need for optimal load management, including preparation, travel and recovery time.

The appointments were made by the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee comprising Chairman Anthony Buchanan (Council member), Joel Jutge (EPCR), Lyndon Bray (SANZAAR), Nick Mallett (former international coach) and Alain Rolland (World Rugby).

With significant strength in depth in international officiating, the team was selected on merit after a comprehensive review of performances and features an exciting and strong blend of experience and youth and follows a hugely productive match officials camp in Japan last week focusing on team culture, processes and alignment.

VIEW FULL APPOINTMENTS HERE >>

READ THE MATCH OFFICIALS SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT HERE >>

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The appointments for the knock-out stages will be made after the pool stage.

World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee Chairman Anthony Buchanan said: “We are building strong momentum towards Rugby World Cup 2019 and I am delighted to say that there is a very strong team ethic across the match officials group, a superb culture and a determination to perform at their best at Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.

“The announcement of the appointments for the pool stage is another major milestone on that journey. Each referee has at least three pool matches, and the selections have been made with optimal preparation in mind. There is a great deal of excitement within the group and they are working extremely hard to ensure clear and consistent decision-making in all respects.”

With RWC 2019 63 days away and global excitement building, fans can still secure their place at rugby’s showcase event via the official public match tickets, travel and hospitality package programmes accessed by visiting www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.