Road to Rugby World Cup 2019 confirmed

Scotland's road to the Rugby World Cup 2019 was confirmed today with home and away fixtures against France and Georgia next summer.

Scotland played Six Nations rivals France in Paris in preparation for RWC 2015 and have faced Georgia on two previous occasions – at RWC 2011 and in Kilmarnock as part of the 2016 Autumn Tests – and will be the first Tier 1 nation to face the Lelos on home soil.

The four-match, Summer-Test schedule will begin when the Scotland squad travel to face France (17 August) then Georgia (24 August) before returning home to play France (31 August) and Georgia (6 September) both at BT Murrayfield.

A final, 31-man Scotland squad will then travel to Nagasaki for a holding camp on the eve of RWC 2019, through the strategic alliance with Nagasaki City signed in 2016.

The camp aims to help the squad acclimatise to the local conditions and the time difference before heading into their official tournament camp.

Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend, said: “With 18 months to go until Rugby World Cup 2019, our planning for the tournament is well underway.

“These warm-up matches against quality international opposition will give us the chance to assess fully where we are as a squad, as well as give players the opportunity to put their hands up for selection for Japan.

“Scotland’s matches against France are typically closely-contested, physical encounters. They are an excellent team who will test us in defence and attack.

“Georgia are currently placed 12th in the World Rugby Rankings and are a country on the rise. Playing against them will be a good test for us ahead of our pool matches at the Rugby World Cup.”

Mark Dodson, Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, added: “We are looking forward to the games against France and Georgia. These fixtures will form an important part of our Rugby World Cup 2019 preparations and give us an opportunity to further deepen our strategic relationship with the FFR and our ongoing connection with the Georgian union.

“Georgia is a growing force in world rugby and we are delighted to be the first Tier 1 nation to face the national team in Tbilisi.”

France Head Coach, Jacques Brunel, said: “Playing Scotland and Italy will be a great opportunity to evaluate our ability to compete with two great qualified nations for RWC 2019 in Japan.

“It is a full part of our preparation process and a good stage to supervise our players before releasing our final squad. I am sure our players will commit themselves 100% in these contests.”

Milton Haig, Georgia Head Coach, said: “The scheduling of these two matches to help us prepare for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan is an historical moment for our team and our union.

“History will be made as it will be the first time Scotland will have played here in Georgia and the first ever Tier 1 Nation to play a match on Georgian home soil.

“This is testament to the relationship Georgia and Scotland have forged over the last few years and the national team are extremely humbled and privileged to play such an outstanding international team in front of our families, friends and very supportive rugby fans."

SCOTLAND FIXTURES 2018 / 19 (all times are local)

2018 Summer Tour
Saturday 9 June: Canada v Scotland; Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton (kick-off 7.10pm)
Saturday 16 June: USA v Scotland; BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston (kick-off 8pm)
Saturday 23 June: Argentina v Scotland; Estadio Centenario, Resistencia (kick-off 4.40pm)

2018 Autumn Tests
Saturday 3 November: Wales v Scotland; Principality Stadium (kick-off 2.45pm)
Saturday 10 November: Scotland v Fiji; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.30pm)
Saturday 17 November: Scotland v South Africa; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 5.20pm)
Saturday 24 November: Scotland v Argentina; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.30pm)

2019 NatWest 6 Nations
Saturday 2 February: Scotland v Italy; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.15pm)
Saturday 9 February: Scotland v Ireland; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.15pm)
Saturday 23 February: France v Scotland; Stade de France  (kick-off 3.15pm local time)
Saturday 9 March: Scotland v Wales; BT Murrayfield (kick-off 2.15pm)
Saturday 16 March: England v Scotland; Twickenham Stadium  (kick-off 5pm)

2019 Summer Test schedule
Saturday 17 August: France v Scotland; Venue TBC  (kick-off TBC)
Saturday 24 August: Georgia v Scotland; Dinamo Arena, Tbilisi, Georgia  (kick-off TBC)
Saturday 31 August: Scotland v France; BT Murrayfield  (kick-off TBC)
Weekend of Friday/Saturday 6/7 September: Scotland v Georgia; BT Murrayfield (kick-off TBC)