Watch all the latest highlights from the Rugby World Cup

ITV invites viewers to rise for the tournament in Japan starting next month. Credit: PA


A stellar line-up of rugby’s biggest names is emerging from the horizon in anticipation of the 2019 Rugby World Cup as ITV invites viewers to rise for the tournament in Japan starting next month.

Beginning its build-up, the channel has unveiled plans for its free to air, exclusive comprehensive coverage and launched an on-air trailer featuring Japanese anime-inspired original animation anticipating UK breakfast time viewings of matches kicking-off in the land of the rising sun from Friday 20 September.

With teams both on the ground in Japan and in the UK, led by presenters Mark Pougatch and Jill Douglas, every game of the tournament through to the Final in Yokohama on 2 November will be broadcast live and in evening highlights shows on ITV and ITV4, both featuring expert analysis from a formidable pundit line-up including Jonny Wilkinson, Sam Warburton, Brian O'Driscoll, Bryan Habana, Sir Clive Woodward, Paul O'Connell, Gareth Thomas, George Gregan, Sir Ian McGeechan, Lawrence Dallaglio, Maggie Alphonsi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jim Hamilton, Mike Phillips and Michael Lynagh.

Sir Clive Woodward is one of many stars who join the star studded pundit line-up Credit: PA

For the tournament, ITV have designed an interactive studio set thatallows the pundits to demonstrate physical analysis in the programmes,creating the platform for some of rugby’s biggest names to bring viewersfresh perspectives and insights into the sport.

Co-commentators include rugby figures with a wealth of experience, including Jamie Roberts, Ugo Monye, Shane Williams, Scott Hastings, Danielle Waterman, Ben Kay and Alan Quinlan.

Craig Doyle and Martin Bayfield will also present shows during the tournament, while Gabriel Clarke will report from Japan along with David Flatman, who will also be a co-commentator. Match commentary comes from Nick Mullins, Miles Harrison, Martin Gillingham and Simon Ward.

ITV’s coverage will also feature the iconic Rugby Word Cup anthem, World In Union, sung in a new, specially-recorded version by Emeli Sande as its theme music.

Viewers will be able to watch and engage with Rugby World Cup coverage at any time with ITV Sport’s digital offer, which is bigger and better than ever before.

Fans can watch all games live and on the go with our ITV Hub app with short highlights of every match, exclusive interviews, top moments of the day and much more on our dedicated Rugby World Cup site:

Twitter account @ITVRugby will feature all the tries and key moments of live broadcast games just seconds after they happen and our Instagram and Facebook accounts will take you behind the scenes in Japan with regular takeovers from our talent.

Flats and Shanks will return to host the ITV Rugby World Cup podcasts throughout our time in Japan Credit: AP

Following the success of the ITV Rugby Six Nations Podcast, Flats and Shanks (former England and Wales internationals David Flatman and Tom Shanklin) will return to host the ITV Rugby World Cup podcasts throughout our time in Japan. Episodes will begin on 9 September and continue every Monday and Thursday throughout the tournament, featuring interviews with the stars of the Rugby World Cup and input from our talent. The dynamic duo will also host special six-episode series 'Flats and Shanks in Japan' on the ITV Hub ahead of the tournament.If you missed anything from any day at the World Cup then the ITV Hub has you covered with a short-round up video on every match day, including all the tries, funny moments, comments from our pundits and classic moments from previous tournaments.

And to ensure big moments bring fans together and are not missed bypeople on the move, in partnership with Ocean Outdoor, ITV will bebringing highlights from all the big games at the Rugby World Cup tooutdoor screens up and down the country. As part of this, the Englandversus France game will be shown live on the large full motion screen inWestfield Square, London on Saturday, October 12 (kick-off 9.15am)

With the opening group phase peppered with standout clashes including England v France, Australia v Wales, Ireland v Scotland and New Zealand v South Africa, the ITV team is already predicting the most open tournament in history as they look forward to bringing viewers the experience and spectacle of the Rugby World Cup taking place in Asia for the first time.

England Legend Jonny Wilkinson will be on hand to offer expert punditry throughout the tournament Credit: ITV Sport

Mark Pougatch said: “There’s always excitement surrounding a World Cup but this time that’s heightened even more because it looks like being the most open World Cup there’s ever been. The All Blacks remain favourites but they’ve shown signs of fragility, Wales come in as Grand Slam Champions, Ireland will be looking to find their form of 2018, England are more than capable if not consistent at the moment and South Africa are improving all the time.“That prospect whets the appetite and it’s against the backdrop of the most fascinating, intriguing country in Japan. It should be six weeks to remember.”

Jonny Wilkinson said: “This autumn Japan will be the central focus of the rugby world as we build up to a very evenly balanced and exciting World Cup. On the field I can't wait to see the hosts Japan in the opening game and see how the Northern hemisphere fair against their Southern counterparts throughout."

Sam Warburton said: “All eyes should be on Japan 2019 as I believe it will be the most competitive Rugby World Cup that I’ve ever seen as a fan or player. I believe the strength of the Tier 2 and 3 nations is the strongest we would have seen and I cannot wait to see how they perform. Japan will undoubtedly put on a fantastic show and with their many passionate supporters and all from around the world, this World Cup will be an enormous global springboard for Rugby Union into the future.”

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, who made 133 international appearances during his career Credit: ITV Sport

Brian O’Driscoll said: “Having never been to Japan, I'm hugely excited about the prospect of the Rugby World Cup taking place for the first time in Asia. If we want to grow the game, we've got to try new markets, trying to access new fans and encourage first time viewers.For the first time ever, I genuinely feel we could have six or seven different winners, which makes it the most open RWC ever.”

Credit: PA

Maggie Alphonsi said: “This is going to be the most competitive, unpredictable and entertaining World Cup we have ever seen. It will be a tough one to call. Many teams have already shown they are capable of winning the Webb Ellis Cup but come tournament time anything can happen. With the tournament taking place in Asia for the very first time, teams will have to acclimatise to the conditions and that could play a big factor in how teams perform. You will also get the opportunity to see the beauty of Japan as games will be played across the country, which will give you an insight into the wonderful hospitality and culture of Japan. The momentum is building and the stage is set for what is going to be an enthralling tournament which you won’t want to miss.”

Former Lions and Scotland coach Sir Ian McGeechan Credit: PA

Sir Ian McGeechan said: “The Rugby World Cup has become such an exciting and significant tournament as a global sporting event, I am looking forward to seeing its impact on an emerging rugby country, where it will be played for the first time. Japan beating South Africa in 2015 set this up beautifully. On the field it’s really interesting, as on their day any of the top eight teams could beat each other. This could lead to some less predictable head to heads in the knock-out stages. At least four teams will think they can win this.”

Sir Clive Woodward said: “We've had three incredible World Cups in the last 12 months. Gareth Southgate's rejuvenated England in Russia, the England Women's team inspired a generation this year, followed by England Cricket going one further to become World Champions in spectacular fashion.

“Now it's England Rugby's turn and I think we're in a great position. What an opportunity Eddie and the players have to showcase the game and give fans more to shout about.

“It promises to be the most open tournament in years which is fantastic, but being in Japan it will be truly special. With a national side who became overnight fan favourites four years ago with their heroics against South Africa and who as a nation I'm sure will embrace everything and host an unforgettable event. I can't wait.”

Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana will also feature in the punditry team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Credit: PA

Bryan Habana said:"With a World Cup which promises to be so uniquely different to any other World Cup previously hosted with it being on the Asian continent for the first time ever and with a cultural experience that many rugby players, fans and viewers will never have witnessed before, Rugby World Cup 2019 is surely going to be an event that will draw many new fans to the beautiful game. This tournament is just too tight to call with regards to who the eventual winner will be, given that any of the top seven teams in World Rugby currently can realistically go on to win it, but also that all other teams participating could cause some real upsets. This makes for some eagerly anticipated matches.”

With a little over a month to go, the build-up to kick-off will begin on ITV tomorrow [Friday 16 August] with the first broadcasts on the channel of its Rugby World Cup 2019 trailer, which, in-keeping with the kick-off schedule, bears its tournament campaign line inviting viewers to “Rise for the Rugby World Cup”.

In collaboration with Stink Films’ Keith McCarthy and Golden Wolf, ITV Creative have produced the film showing fans from every one of our home nations slipping into slumber, before their dreams are taken over by excitement, anticipating the action lying ahead in Japan.

Inspired by elements of modern Japanese artistic culture, each fan’sdream takes a different journey through anime, drawing on influencesincluding renowned Manga artists Katsuhiro Otomo (known for directinglandmark cyber-punk anime film Akira) and Satoshi Kon (who co-wroteand directed the more hallucinatory anime film Paprika), 16-bit gamessuch as Street Fighter and Tekken and classic anime, such as Battle ofthe Planets and Dragon Ball Z. As the sun rises, each fan emerges fromtheir visions, bleary-eyed, in front of their screens as their team preparesfor their match. The clip features the track Goku by Jaden Smith, whichwas also inspired by anime, with its reference to the titular characterfrom the Dragon Ball series.

Credit: ITV Sport

Tony Pipes, Executive Creative Director for ITV Creative, said: “Wewanted to create a piece that captured the excitement and tangiblegiddiness that rugby fans have been feeling with the kick-off around thecorner. We felt Japan’s rich and pioneering history with animation madeit the perfect medium to translate the physicality and action of the gameand tease what I’m sure will be a unique and historic tournament.”Chris Anstey, ITV Marketing Manager, said: "Because the Rugby WorldCup is taking place in Japan for the first time, we already know it's going to be like nothing else rugby fans have experienced before. Thecollaboration between ITV Creative, Stink and Golden Wolf for ITV’sRISE campaign aims to tap into the way the tournament gripsimaginations and capture the promise of a spectacular event awaiting onthe horizon in September on ITV.”

Keith McCarthy, Stink Films Director, said: "The RWC project really is adream job. So many elements and teams coming together to craft agreat film. The script itself was so singular and clear in its ambition and Iwanted to push all the ingredients - the cinematic live action, theauthentic anime-inspired animation, inventive transitions that blur thelines between the physical and animated. The challenge of working indual worlds of performance and animation made so much easier with theinfinite knowledge and smarts of Golden Wolf."