Don't miss the first week's big matches at the Rugby World Cup 2011

The pool stages of any World Cup are tentative, about getting down to business, making sure there aren't any slips-ups and building up for the knockout stages. And that's just the armchair viewers. In case you can't catch every kick and maul, we've picked out the must-see games in the first week of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

The Rugby World Cup (www.rugbyworldcup.com) kicks off in New Zealand on September 9 with the opening match between New Zealand and Tonga in Auckland. Start time is 9.30am, but tune in earlier for the opening ceremony, and the usual All-Blacks haka.

Argentina v England in Dunedin on September 10 at 9.30am will be an intriguing opener for Martin Johnson's team, against the southern hemisphere dark horses. If England don't start sharply it could be embarrassing.

South Africa v Wales on September 11 at 9.30am in Wellington will be a quick chance to gauge the holders' strength, and an injury-troubled Wales team will hope to catch them before they get into their stride.

Russia v USA on September 15 at 8.30am in New Plymouth is an interesting sideshow, as the two super-powers battle it out in a sport that is strictly a minority interest in both countries.

Australia v Ireland on September 17 at 9.30am sees the second favourites for the tournament open their campaign in Auckland against a tough but injury-plagued Irish side.

For full details of the ITV television coverage of the Rugby World Cup 2011, including live match coverage, previews and highlights shows, visit www.itv.com.

United Kingdom - Excite Network Copyright ©1995 - 2020