19 dates to circle on the 2019 rugby calendar

Rugby World Cup
by Staff Writer

Another year is over and a new one is beginning in rugby , with plenty of huge moments.

Here are 19 days to mark in your rugby calendar for 2019, with still plenty more fixtures to be announced, including the second Super W competition.

FEBRUARY

Friday February 1-3 - Sydney 7s, Spotless Stadium

Australia's men and women will be out to defend their Sydney titles in the first major rugby event of the year. The World Series leg moves out to Spotless Stadium with the redevelopment of Sydney's Allianz Stadium and returns to the first weekend of February in 2019.

Sunday February 2 , 3:05am - Six Nations, Ireland vs England

The Six Nations will be one of the most-anticipated in recent memory when the 2019 competition kicks off. Defending champions Ireland open their campaign in Dublin against Eddie Jones's England desperate to make a statement after a lacklustre 2018. Fair to say, it will be a well-watched encounter.

Saturday February 15 - Brumbies vs Rebels, GIO Stadium

The first Aussie Super Rugby derby of the year will be down in Canberra in the competition's first round. It will likely shape as James Slipper's Super Rugby return after injury-riddled seasons and a two-month suspension for positive drug tests.

Saturday February 16 - Blues vs Crusaders, Eden Park

The Blues have been the relative strugglers in the New Zealand Super Rugby conference but their first-chance to show improvement will be against the defending champions in round one. Ma'a Nonu is set to make his Super Rugby return with the Auckland side and club legend Tana Umaga has stepped down as coach, with Leon MacDonald taking the reins.

MARCH

Saturday March 9  - Reds vs Waratahs, SCG

Waratahs and Reds face off at the SCG. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Reds-Waratahs rivalry is always an enticing one and playing at the historic SCG adds some extra weight. Both sides donned heritage jerseys in the corresponding clash last year, acknowledging the rich history between the sides. 

Sunday March 17, 1:45am - Six Nations, Wales vs Ireland

Ireland will be the benchmark for the Six Nations countries in 2019 and for Wales an Irish Test could prove most telling. Warren Gatland's side finished their year with nine straight Test wins and at no. 3 in the world but whether they can knock off a team like Ireland will prove whether they can truly mix it with the best ahead of the World Cup.

Saturday March 30 - Reds vs Rebels, Suncorp Stadium

Enigmatic flyhalf Quade Cooper is set to come up against the Reds for the first time in Super Rugby when the Rebels travel to Brisbane. Cooper's reunion with halfback Will Genia will come full circle at Suncorp Stadium where they combined to win a Super Rugby title in 2011 and there'll be plenty of eyes on this clash after Cooper was exiled from Ballymore in 2018.

MAY

Saturday May 4  - Hurricanes vs Rebels

The Rebels open their season with a trans-Tasman encounter against the Highlanders but they don'r make the trip across the ditch until round 12, wit a South African sojourn in between. With a high-quality squad this year the overseas matches will be just as critical as the derbies when it comes to making the playoffs for the first time. A win in Wellington would certainly show that this side has ticker.

Saturday May 11 - Lions vs Waratahs, Johannesburg

The Waratahs were knocked out of the Super Rugby by the Lions in the 2018 semi-finals but they'll have a chance for some redemption when they return to South Africa in next year's Super Rugby season.

JUNE

Saturday June 8 - Waratahs vs Brumbies, Western Sydney Stadium

The Waratahs and Brumbies will finish the regular season with a Super Rugby derby in the west of Sydney and it could ultimately be one of the pivotal matches of the year. This season the two faced off in the final regular round and a Brumbies upset determined where the Waratahs finished in the final log. 

JULY

Weekend of July 6 - Super Rugby final

Will the Crusaders continue their Super Rugby dominance or will another side push them off their perch in 2019? Super Rugby will finish in July next year and with a Rugby World Cup just two months later, there will be plenty at stake every week.

Saturday July 20 - Springboks vs Wallabies, Johannesburg

The Wallabies have copped criticism after a lean 2018 and their first international Test will come in the form of the Springboks in Johannesburg next year. That clash will be their first chance to show improvement with the World Cup around the corner and the addition of Scott Johnson as a director of rugby.

AUGUST

Saturday August 10 - Bledisloe double header, Perth

Optus Stadium will host Perth's first Bledisloe in 2019 and the Wallabies will be looking to make a pre-World Cup statement against the All Blacks. It will be the second consecutive double header with the Wallaroos and Black Ferns playing ahead of the men's game as well.

SEPTEMBER

Friday September 20, 8:45pm  - Japan vs Russia

The Rugby World Cup fixture will be announced on Thursday. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Rugby World Cup kicks off with hosts Japan taking on an unpredictable Russian side that is ever-improving. 

Saturday September 21, 2:45pm - Australia vs Fiji

The Wallabies open their World Cup campaign at the Sapporo Dome against the Flying Fijians, a repeat of their 2015 opener in the UK. Australia took out that match in 2015 off the back of David Pocock's heroics and they'll be looking to kick off this tournament with a strong statement.

Saturday September 21, 7:45pm - New Zealand vs South Africa

All Blacks-Springboks clashes are always big but one with World Cup ramifications will take the stakes even higher. The two fierce rivals open their respective World Cup campaigns with this Test - certainly not easing their way into the competition.

OCTOBER

October 19-20 - RWC Quarter-finals

There will be some big-time final eight showdowns in this year's World Cup with the pool draw running the way it is. Wallabies-England, Ireland-New Zealand and Wales-England are just some of the potential permutations of the knock out stages and there will be a big casualty regardless of how the draw ends up. 

October 26-27 - RWC semi-finals

The final four stage of the Rugby World Cup has thrown up some all-time classics through history and with a lead-up like this World Cup, you can expect another chapter to be written this time around.

NOVEMBER 

Saturday November 2, 9pm - Rugby World Cup final

Rugby's biggest four-year cycle comes down to this 80 minutes in Yokohama on the first Saturday in November. A host of nations are in contention to be playing off for the William Webb Ellis Cup and this match will give the successful side a place in history.