(Reuters) - Japan will continue their long-range build up to hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a tough-looking four-game programme in November, with a host of other Tier Two nations given enticing fixtures in a list released by World Rugby on Thursday.
Japan, who created the biggest shock in Rugby World Cup history last year when they stunned South Africa in the pool stage, will take on Argentina in Tokyo on Nov. 5 before travelling to Europe to play Georgia, Wales and Fiji, in France, during the test period.
The lower-ranked sides have long called for more fixtures against top nations and their impressive displays during the 2015 World Cup in England and increased development and funding has helped that goal to be partially achieved.
“World Rugby is committed to supporting tier two nations in their competition programmes with the objective of improving competitiveness,” the governing body’s head of competitions and performance Mark Egan said in a statement.
“We are committed to closing the gap further as we work towards Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.”
Rugby has traditionally been dominated by the 10 Tier One countries -- the northern hemisphere’s Six Nations teams and those of the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.
Georgia, another Tier Two side who enjoyed a good World Cup with victories over Tonga and Namibia, will also play Samoa and Scotland while Fiji will clash with England at Twickenham in a repeat of the 2015 World Cup opening game.
Tonga will visit Spain for the first time to face the hosts in Madrid, before playing the U.S. and Italy, while Brazil will also undertake a tour to Europe for the first time, which includes two-test series against Germany.
Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru, editing by Mitch Phillips