The Latest: Rugby arrives, features in Japan's opening act

TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the opening day of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

7: p.m.

Against the backdrop of a Japanese festival rich in color, complete with dazzling lights and lavish costumes, Rugby World Cup's opening ceremony captivated the crowd at Tokyo Stadium.

Combining ancient tradition and the modern world, it used symbolic Japanese cultural references, taking spectators on a journey from the dawn of time to the arrival of rugby in Japan, and the sport's big breakthrough in being hosted in Asia for the first time.

Surrounding an image of Mount Fuji in the middle of the field, the 20 participating teams were introduced by children holding flags of each country. Three-time winner New Zealand and Japan got the loudest cheers.

As the tournament's "World in Union" theme song was played, spectators clapped along as a light breeze blew around the sold-out stadium.

Former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw stood on a makeshift podium and held aloft the William Webb Ellis trophy as flames roared into the sky. Japan was playing Russia later Friday in the tournament's opening game.

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3:20 p.m.

Injured backs Rob Kearney and Keith Earls weren't risked by Ireland and won't play against Scotland in their Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday in Yokohama.

That meant four backs were unavailable: Center Robbie Henshaw strained his hamstring in training last weekend and flyhalf Joey Carbery injured his ankle last month in a warmup against Italy.

Garry Ringrose is in midfield with Bundee Aki, Andrew Conway is on the wing opposite Jacob Stockdale, and Jordan Larmour was at fullback.

From the pack which overwhelmed Wales in Dublin in a warmup game two weeks ago, Iain Henderson was at lock in place of newcomer Jean Kleyn, and Peter O'Mahony was back on the blindside flank, bumping CJ Stander to his usual No. 8 spot.

Ireland: Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O'Mahony, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (captain), Cian Healy. Reserves: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Chris Farrell.

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3 p.m.

Sergio Parisse is set to become the third man to play at five Rugby World Cup tournaments when he starts against Namibia in a Pool B game on Sunday.

The 36-year-old backrower will join Italian compatriot Mauro Bergamasco and ex-Samoa midfielder Brian Lima as the only players to compete five times at rugby's quadrennial showpiece.

It will be Parisse's 141st test cap, moving him level with Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll in second place on the all-time list, seven behind former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw's record for most international appearances. He made his Rugby World Cup debut in 2003 against New Zealand.

Italy coach Conor O'Shea made nine changes to the starting lineup which lost 37-0 to England on Sept. 6.

Italy lineup: Jayden Hayward, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Morisi, Edoardo Padovani, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi; Sergio Parisse (captain), Maxime Mbanda, Braam Steyn, Federico Ruzza, Alessandro Zanni, Tiziano Pasquali, Luca Bigi, Nicola Quaglio. Reserves: Oliviero Fabiani, Simone Ferrari, Marco Riccioni, Dean Budd, Jake Polledri, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Matteo Minozzi.

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2 p.m.

Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu has included seven British-based players including flyhalf Kurt Morath in his squad for the Pool C opener against England.

Morath, captain Siale Piutau, scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua and flanker Sione Kalamafoni are the only players in the 23-man squad for Sunday's match who were involved in Tonga's previous Rugby World Cup appearance — against defending champion New Zealand in 2015.

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Morath, who is the team's all-time international scorer with 340 test points, is aiming to equal Tonga's record for most test wins. He is currently one short of Nili Latu Langilangi and Vunga Lilo, who share the record with 19 each.

Tonga lineup: David Halaifonua, Atieli Pakalani, Siale Piutau (captain), Cooper Vuna, Viliami Lolohea, Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takulua; Maama Vaipulu, Zane Kapeli, Sione Kalamafoni, Halaleva Fifita, Sam Lousi, Ben Tameifuna, Sosefo Sakalia, Siegfried 'Fisiihoi. Reserves: Siua Maile, Latu Talakai, Ma'afu Fia, Dan Faleafa, Nasi Manu, Leon Fukofuka, James Faiva, Nafi Tu'itavake.

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1 p.m.

On the eve of his first Rugby World Cup appearance, Marika Koroibete has signed a two-year extension with the Wallabies.

Rugby Australia says Koroibete, who began playing rugby union in 2017 after six seasons in the National Rugby League, including the 2016 grand final with the Melbourne Storm, would stay with the Wallabies and Super Rugby's Melbourne Rebels until 2021.

Koroibete will start on the left wing in Australia's World Cup opener against his native Fiji in Sapporo on Saturday. The former Fiji Rugby League international has started 22 of his 24 tests for the Wallabies since 2017, scoring nine tries.

"It was an easy decision to stay with a club that gave me a chance to play the game," Koroibete said.

Koroibete is from the Fijian village of Naraiyawa, where he grew up on the family farm and didn't play competitive rugby until his late high school years in Suva.

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12:40 p.m.

England will start its Rugby World Cup campaign with George Ford at flyhalf and captain Owen Farrell at inside center.

England head coach Eddie Jones also selected Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola in the backrow for Sunday's Pool C game against Tonga in Sapporo, meaning newcomer Lewis Ludlam is on the bench.

Farrell and Manu Tuilagi form the center combination, and Jonny May, Anthony Watson and Elliot Dally are in the back three. There was no place in the 23 for Fiji-born wing Joe Cokanasiga, who has been struggling with a knee injury.

As expected, Vunipola's brother Mako is not fit, so Kyle Sinckler comes in at tighthead prop alongside hooker Jamie George and loosehead Joe Marler.

Jones says England is expecting a "ferocious" challenge from a Tonga lineup which will be "full of pride and passion."

England Lineup: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

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12 p.m.

Namibia head coach Phil Davies has elevated lock Tjiuee Uanivi to lead the team in the absence of Johan Deysel for its Rugby World Cup opener against Italy.

Namibia is participating in its sixth World Cup and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies will feature in his fourth if he comes off the bench against the Italians in a Pool B game on Sunday at Hanazono Rugby Stadium.

Center Darryl De La Harpe was selected in the centers to make his 50th test appearance for Namibia.

The squads for Sunday's three group games are scheduled to be announced before the tournament opener between host Japan and Russia at Tokyo Stadium later Friday.

Defending champion New Zealand and two-time champion South Africa are meeting Saturday in the first of the Pool B games.

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Namibia lineup: Johan Tromp, Chad Plato, Justin Newman, Darryl De La Harpe, JC Greyling, Cliven Loubser, Damian Stevens; Janco Venter, Wian Conradie, Rohan Kitshoff, Tjiuee Uanivi (captain), PJ Van Lill, Johannes Coetzee, Torsten George Van Jaarsveld, Andre Rademeyer. Reserves: Louis van der Westhuizen, AJ De Klerk, Nelius Theron, Johan Retief, Max Katjijeko, Eugene Jantjies, Helarius Axasman Kisting, Lesley Klim.

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More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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