2019 Rugby World Cup: Japan v Russia
Venue: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo City Date: Fri, 20 September Kick-off: 11:45 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Coach Lyn Jones hopes his Russian underdogs can make their mark in Friday’s World Cup opener, despite stating they only have a slim chance of beating hosts Japan.

The Welshman took over in August 2018 and is in charge of the lowest ranked side in the tournament at 20th.

Opponents Japan are 10th on the eve of the tournament.

“Japan are entering the game as favourites. Let me be frank, we have a 20% chance in this game,” said Jones.

“But that’s just on paper.”

Russia took an unorthodox path to the tournament.

After finishing fourth in the tier-two European Nations Cup in 2018, they were promoted to second after Romania and Spain fielded ineligible players and were thrown out of the World Cup.

As well as Japan the Bears will face Ireland, Scotland and Samoa in the pool stage.

“Our preparation started only a year ago, but I appreciate what we have done since then,” Jones said

Jones won five caps for Wales as a flanker and his coaching CV includes some of the sport’s less-celebrated outposts.

The 55-year-old had been in charge of Neath, Ospreys, Dragons and London Welsh, but has also coached at a school in Abu Dhabi and took on the top job at Namibian side Welwitschias.

Ireland and Scotland are favourites for the two quarter-final qualifying positions, but Jones knows the threat Japan – who famously beat South Africa in the pool stage of the last World Cup – could pose.

“They are very fast, nobody makes mistakes,” said Jones.

“We appreciate the way Japan play but we also want to touch the [try] line, do well and enjoy ourselves. We have players who can touch the line.”

There will be a significant Welsh presence in the World Cup opening game, with 2015 final referee Nigel Owens officiating and Jones joined by Shaun Connor in his coaching team.

Elsewhere, Phil Davies and Kingsley Jones are in charge of Pool B sides Namibia and Canada respectively.

Davies’ Namibia backroom staff includes former Wales internationals Dale McIntosh, Wayne Proctor and Mark Jones, while Jones is assisted by Gruff Rees for Canada.


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