Ireland's qualification tournament for the 2021 Rugby World Cup will begin against Spain, in what will be a first meeting of the sides since 1998.

Adam Griggs's side will face Spain, Italy and Scotland in the European qualifier, which is to be hosted by Parma's Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi later this month.

The four sides will compete for one place at next year's World Cup in New Zealand, which has been postponed by 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each team will play three games across the fortnight in a round-robin format, with the winners securing World Cup qualification, and the second placed team advancing to the final round of qualifiers.

Ireland kick off their campaign against Spain on Monday, 13 September at 5pm (Irish time) before facing Italy six days later in Parma (2pm).

Ireland's final game of the competition will see them go up against Scotland on Saturday, 25 September at 5pm.

Ireland finished third in this year's Six Nations

Rugby World Cup 2021 tournament director Alison Hughes, said: "We are delighted to confirm the match schedule and a highly qualified team of match officials for what promises to be three exciting and hotly contested match days in the Europe Qualifier as all four participating teams will be aiming to claim the prize of a place at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand.

"We continue to work in close partnership with the hosts and all participating unions to ensure we deliver a safe and secure event and give the players the opportunity to showcase their talents on the pitch."

Ireland will be favourites to make it three wins from three and advance to the World Cup.

Griggs's side scored five tries in a 25-5 win against Italy to finish third in the 2021 Six Nations Championship, while they also beat Scotland in their last Six Nations meeting in 2020.

RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier schedule

Monday, 13 September

Scotland v Italy (2pm Irish time)

Spain v Ireland (5pm)

Sunday, 19 September

Italy v Ireland (2pm)

Spain v Scotland (5pm)

Saturday, 25 September

Italy v Spain (2pm)

Ireland v Scotland (5pm)