Google Doodle celebrates opening of Rugby World Cup 2019

This year's tournament is the first to be held in Asia.

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Google is getting into Rugby World Cup spirit with a scrum.


The 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament kicks off Friday in Japan, and Google is celebrating opening day by dropping a scrum on top of its Doodle.

The Rugby World Cup has been held every four years since its founding in 1987, matching top international teams from 20 countries against each other. In the past, the tournament's been hosted by traditional rugby strongholds such as Australia, New Zealand and the UK, but this year, tournament play is being held in Asia for the first time.

Rugby has been played in Japan for more than a century, but its popularity in the country pales when compared with baseball and soccer. Japan's rugby play can be traced back to 1866, with its first international match coming against a Canadian team in 1932. Japan beat South Africa 34-32 during the 2015 World Cup in what many consider the biggest upset in the history of the tournament.

The team from Japan will kick off the tournament in a game against Russia at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium at 7:45 p.m. local time on Friday (3:45 a.m. PT Friday). The tournament will conclude Nov. 2 with the awarding of the Webb Ellis Cup to the tournament's champion.

Defending champions New Zealand have won the cup three times, followed by two-time winners Australia and South Africa. England has won once.

The games will be available for viewing in the US on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.