This is very definitely a World Cup for people who get up early in the morning.
And with 48 matches over 44 days, the schedule will be a gruelling enough one for armchair rugby fans whose commitment to the sport will face its sternest examination on Sunday, October 12th when the tournament’s only 4.15am (Irish time) kick-off takes place.
That night/morning, then, the choice will be between sleep or getting up to watch the Pool B clash of Namibia and Canada – those who choose the former will be classified as bandwagoner fly-by-nights.
Plenty of strength and conditioning work will, therefore, need to have been done before Japan and Russia get us under way on Friday, September 20th, indefatigable levels of stamina required to tune in for all 3,840 minutes of game time over the course of the tournament – and that's not counting added time and the possibility of extra-time, sudden death and/or kicking competitions that might well be required to decide knock-out games.
Nobody, of course, wants to be parochial about it, this being a global event, but the four matches you will have initially circled in green on your calendar will be Ireland's pool meetings with Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa which, mercifully, kick off at more humane (Irish) times, namely 8.45, 8.15, 11.15 and 11.45 am. If the Gods are with us, we'll have a quarter-final, semi-final and final to circle in green too.
Our Irish telly hosts will be eir Sport and RTÉ, eir having won the Republic of Ireland rights to broadcast the entire tournament live, but a sub-licensing agreement with RTÉ means that the State broadcaster will also have live coverage of 14 matches – all of Ireland's games, as well as that opening meeting between Japan and Russia, the pool game between France and Tonga (a bit of a live outlier, this), and all eight knockout matches up to and including the final.
Over in Britain, ITV are the chief rights holders so will also broadcast all 48 games, with S4C showing nine games live, including, naturally enough, all of Wales' fixtures.
Between the channels, there are enough former players called up for punditry duty to fill an entire World Cup squad, ITV selecting an especially vast and star-studded line-up that includes our very own Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Alan Quinlan, as well as a sprinkling of former coaches, among them Clive Woodward and Ian McGeechan.
Tommy Bowe will be our host on eir Sport where he'll have a trio of ex-team-mates for company – Gordon D'Arcy, Peter Stringer and Jerry Flannery – as well as internationals Éimear Considine and Louise Galvin. Conor Morris will be in the commentary box, his companion being Liam Toland of this parish.
There’ll also be a daily highlights show on eir for those who don’t get up early in the morning, or, perhaps, have pesky jobs to go to, while Clare MacNamara will present RTÉ’s highlights show, Daire O’Brien hosting their live games.
He'll have his usual buddies Eddie O'Sullivan and Brent Pope alongside him, as well as former Irish internationals Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Ferris, Bernard Jackman and Fiona Coghlan, with Michael Lynagh popping over from his ITV duties occasionally. Hugh Cahill and Donal Lenihan will talk us through the games.
Mark Pougatch and Jill Douglas will be ITV's main presenters, with Craig Doyle and Martin Bayfield helping out, while the familiar voices of Nick Mullins and Miles Harrison will look after the commentary on the bigger games - but possibly not Namibia v Canada.
The starter on your World Cup menu is the opening ceremony on Friday, September 20, the feast ending with the final on November 2 at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. Not, happily, at 4:15 AM - a whole four and three quarter hours later.
Best of luck with your strength and conditioning work, then, only 48 matches to survive.
The TV line-ups
Presenters: Daire O'Brien (live games) and Clare MacNamara (highlights).
Pundits: Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Ferris, Michael Lynagh, Fiona Coghlan, Eddie O'Sullivan, Brent Pope and Bernard Jackman.
Commentator: Hugh Cahill.
Co-Commentator: Donal Lenihan.
Presenter: Tommy Bowe.
Pundits: Gordon D'Arcy, Peter Stringer, Jerry Flannery, Eimear Considine and Louise Galvin.
Commentator: Conor Morris.
Co-Commentator: Liam Toland.
Presenters: Mark Pougatch, Jill Douglas, Craig Doyle and Martin Bayfield.
Pundits: Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Jonny Wilkinson, Sam Warburton, Bryan Habana, Clive Woodward, Gareth Thomas, George Gregan, Ian McGeechan, Lawrence Dallaglio, Maggie Alphonsi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Jim Hamilton, Mike Phillips and Michael Lynagh.
Commentators: Nick Mullins, Miles Harrison, Martin Gillingham and Simon Ward.
Co-commentators: Alan Quinlan, Jamie Roberts, Ugo Monye, Shane Williams, Scott Hastings, Danielle Waterman and Ben Kay.
* eir Sport and ITV will show all 48 games live, ITV using ITV4 for some of its coverage, while RTÉ will broadcast 14 matches live – all of Ireland’s games, the opener between Japan and Russia, the pool meeting of France and Tonga, and all eight knock-out matches up to and including the final.
Rugby World Cup Fixtures
Friday, September 20
11:45 AM: Japan v Russia (Pool A) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Saturday, September 21
5:45 AM: Australia v Fiji (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
8:15 AM: France v Argentina (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
10:45 AM: New Zealand v South Africa (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, September 22
6:15 AM: Italy v Namibia (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
8:45 AM: Ireland v Scotland (Pool A) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
11:15 AM: England v Tonga (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
Monday, September 23
11:15 AM: Wales v Georgia (POOL D) – eir Sport, ITV
Tuesday, September 24
11:15 AM: Russia v Samoa (POOL A) – eir Sport, ITV4
Wednesday, September 25
6:15 AM: Fiji v Uruguay (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV4
Thursday, September 26
8:45 AM: Italy v Canada (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV4
11:45 AM: England v USA (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
Saturday, September 28
5:45 AM: Argentina v Tonga (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
8:15 AM: Japan v Ireland (Pool A) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
10:45 AM: South Africa v Namibia (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, September 29
6:15 AM: Georgia v Uruguay (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
8:45 AM: Australia v Wales (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
Monday, September 30
11:15 AM: Scotland v Samoa (Pool A) – eir Sport, ITV
Wednesday, October 2
8:45 AM: France v USA (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV4
11:15 AM: New Zealand v Canada (Pool B) - eir Sport, ITV 4
Thursday, October 3
6:15 AM: Georgia v Fiji (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV4
11:15 AM: Ireland v Russia (Pool A) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Friday, October 4
10:45 AM: South Africa v Italy (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV4
Saturday, October 5
6:15 AM: Australia v Uruguay (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
9:0 AM: England v Argentina (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
11:30 AM: Japan v Samoa (Pool A) – eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, October 6
5:45 AM: New Zealand v Namibia (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
8:45 AM: France v Tonga (Pool C) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Tuesday, October 8
11:15 AM: South Africa v Canada (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV4
Wednesday, October 9
5:45 AM: Argentina v USA (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV4
8:15 AM: Scotland v Russia (Pool A) – eir Sport, ITV
10:45 AM: Wales v Fiji (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
Friday, October 11
11:15 AM: Australia v Georgia (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV4
Saturday, October 12
5:45 AM: New Zealand v Italy (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
9:15 AM: England v France (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
11:45 AM: Ireland v Samoa (Pool A ) – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, October 13
4:15 AM: Namibia v Canada (Pool B) – eir Sport, ITV
6:45 AM: USA v Tonga (Pool C) – eir Sport, ITV
9:15 AM: Wales v Uruguay (Pool D) – eir Sport, ITV
11:45 AM: Japan v Scotland (Pool A) – eir Sport, ITV
Saturday, October 19
8:15 AM: QF1 Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
11:15 AM: QF2 Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, October 20
8:15 AM: QF3 Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
11:15 AM: QF4 Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Saturday, October 26
9:0 AM: Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Sunday, October 27
9:0 AM: Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 – RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV
Friday, November 1
9:0 AM: Third-place Play-off – RTE, eir Sport, ITV
Saturday, November 2
9:0 AM: Final –RTÉ, eir Sport, ITV