Heineken Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup winners will be to the fore on Sunday, when four European nations get their 2019 Rugby World Cup campaigns under way in Japan.
The two highest ranked teams in Pool A will face off in Ireland and Scotland, while England kick off their Pool C campaign against Tonga.
Ireland’s challenge will be led by Leinster Rugby fly-half Johnny Sexton – a four-time European Cup champion – and team-mates Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong, who was shortlisted for EPCR European Player of the Year last season for his performances.
Scotland will boast winners from both European finals in Newcastle last season in Saracens winger Sean Maitland and ASM Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Greig Laidlaw.
Later England take on Tonga, with head coach Eddie Jones naming a strong matchday squad, including five members of Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup-winning side in May. Owen Farrell will captain the side from inside centre, while Billy Vunipola starts at No. 8.
Tonga have named an experienced XV for Sunday’s clash with some familiar names in their line-up. including Leicester Tigers duo Telusa Veainu and Sione Kalamafoni, and Bristol Bears centre Siale Piutau.
Sunday’s final game will see Italy take on Namibia, with RC Toulon No.8 Sergio Parisse – a Challenge Cup winner in 2016/17 – poised to play in his record-equalling fifth consecutive World Cup.
On the other side for Namibia are Torsten van Jaarsveld and PJ van Lill of Bayonne, who will return to the Challenge Cup this year after a two-season break.
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