The stadium in northern Japan is traditionally a baseball arena and home to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, but the field was switched around to host the second game of the tournament. There will only be two games at the Sapporo Dome; Australia-Fiji on Saturday and England-Tonga on Sunday.
The Australian and Fijian teams were welcomed onto the field by Japanese Taiko drums. Two-time champion Australia is favored to win the opening match of Pool D against an exciting but unpredictable Fiji team. Australia last lost a game to Fiji in 1954.
Alun Wyn Jones will become the fourth Welshman to play at four Rugby World Cups when he leads the Six Nations champion onto the field for its tournament opening game against Georgia.
The veteran lock will join Gareth Thomas (1995-2007), Stephen Jones (1999-2011) and Gethin Jenkins (2003-2015) in a select group that has featured for Wales in four editions of the global tournament.
Jones is also set to equal Gethin Jenkins's record of 129 caps for Wales when he starts against Georgia in Toyoto on Monday, in what will be his national record 14th World Cup game.
Wales coach Warren Gatland retained 10 players from the starting XV which lost a warmup game against Ireland before traveling to Japan. Elliot Dee, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, and Leigh Halfpenny started against Ireland in Dublin but have been relegated to the bench.
Alun Wyn Jones, scrumhalf Gareth Davies, flyhalf Dan Biggar and winger George North are the only players returning from Wales' previous World Cup game — a quarterfinal loss to South Africa in 2015.
Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones (captain) Jake Ball, Tom Francis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Ross Moriarty, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Leigh Halfpenny
The first Rugby World Cup in Asia kicked off with host Japan securing the win it needed to get momentum rolling.
Now for the biggest showdown of the group stage, with the New Zealand All Blacks facing South Africa's Springboks in Yokohama.
The All Blacks, aiming for an unprecedented third consecutive World Cup title, have never lost a match in the pool stage of the tournament. But they're facing a daunting opener against South Africa, which won the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship this season for the first time in a decade. The most recent game between the traditional heavyweights of the sport resulted in a 16-16 draw in July, and they're 2-2 in previous Rugby World Cup meetings.
Two-time champion Australia gets its Pool D campaign started against Fiji in Sapporo, in the north of Japan, and France and Argentina meet in Pool C.
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