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The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be the ninth Rugby World Cup, and is to be held in Japan from 20 September to 2 November. This will be the first time the tournament is to be held in Asia, and outside the traditional heartland of rugby union.

2019 Rugby World Cup
2019 ラグビーワールドカップ
2019 Rugby World Cup (logo).svg
Tournament details
Host nation Japan
Dates20 September – 2 November
No. of nations20 (93 qualifying)

Hong Kong and Singapore had expressed interest in hosting some of the matches and were included as part of the JRFU's successful original hosting bid to World Rugby (known at the time of bidding as the International Rugby Board, or IRB) but were not amongst the fourteen locations announced by organisers Japan 2019 on 5 November 2014 that had formally bid for the right to host games.[1]

The opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Chōfu, Tokyo, and the final match will be held at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture. These venue assignments were announced in September 2015 when plans for the tournament were revised by Japan's organizing committee and accepted by World Rugby.[2] The National Olympic Stadium, being rebuilt for the 2020 Summer Olympics, was originally the centerpiece of Japan's Rugby World Cup bid, but revisions to the Olympic Stadium plans mandated the World Cup venue changes.



The IRB requested that any member unions wishing to host the 2019 or 2015 Rugby World Cup should indicate their interest by 15 August 2008. This would be purely to indicate interest; no details had to be provided at this stage. A record ten unions indicated interest in hosting either the 2015 and/or the 2019 events. The 2019 tournament received interest from nine different nations.

Russia initially announced plans to bid for both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, but withdrew both bids in February 2009 in favour of what proved to be a successful bid[3] for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens.[4] Australia withdrew from the bidding process on 6 May 2009.[5]

The three potential hosts – Italy, Japan and South Africa – were announced on 8 May 2009.[6] At a special meeting held in Dublin on 28 July 2009, the International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed that England would host the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and Japan would host the 2019 event. The IRB voted 16–10 in favour of approving the recommendation from Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) that England and Japan should be named hosts.


Ren-G, mascots for Rugby World Cup 2019

The IRB, RWC Ltd, JRFU and host organisers Japan 2019 went through the process of asking for expressions of interest, and meeting with and explaining game hosting requirements to interested parties from late 2013. In May it was announced that twenty-two municipal and/or prefectural organisations had expressed interest from throughout Japan. Interested organisations were asked to enter a formal bid by 31 October 2014. At a press conference on 5 November in Tokyo, organisers Japan 2019 announced that bids from fourteen localities had been received. Secretary-General of the organising committee, Mr. Akira Shimazu advised that amongst the twenty-two interested parties, Yokohama (Yokohama International Stadium, venue for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final), and Niigata's Denka Big Swan Stadium, which was also a 2002 FIFA World Cup venue, had decided not to bid. Shimazu added that the decision of Yokohama not to bid meant that it was virtually a fore-gone conclusion that the new National Stadium in Tokyo would host both the semi-finals, and the third-place playoff in addition to the opening game and final.

There have been a number of changes to the venues submitted in the JRFU's original bid in 2009. Gone are venues in Hong Kong and Singapore. All games will be in Japan. The JRFU's own Chichibunomiya Stadium in Tokyo which might have been expected to host smaller interest games in the capital is missing. Also the JRFU plumped for the larger, and more modern 50,000 seat Nagai multi-purpose stadium as its preferred venue for games in Osaka in 2009 but the Osaka Municipality and East Osaka City governments have submitted the Hanazono Rugby Stadium which they are planning to refurbish as the Osaka venue option. East Osaka City will take over the stadium from long-time corporate owners Kintetsu in April 2015. Kamaishi, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Oita, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto are all venues that weren't part of the JRFU's bid. While the bids include venues from a broad area of Japan, two parts won't be involved in hosting. Firstly the Hokushin'etsu area (Hokuriku region and Koshin'etsu region), which includes the city of Niigata, and secondly the Chugoku Region, including Hiroshima, and nearby Shikoku Island. No city in the latter region were venues for games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, but Hiroshima did host games in the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

On 17 July 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that plans to build the new National Stadium would be scrapped and rebid on amid public discontent over the stadium's building costs. As a result, the new stadium would not be ready until the 2020 Summer Olympics.[7] World Rugby released a statement saying that they were extremely disappointed by the announcement "despite repeated assurances to contrary from the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee and Japan Sports Council," and would "need to consider the options relating to the impact of (the) announcement."[8]

In September 2015, World Rugby approved the Japan Rugby 2019 organizing committee's revised roadmap for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which sought to resolve the venue inadequacies caused by the floundering development of the National Stadium. It was agreed that the originally proposed National Stadium fixtures will be borne by the Ajinomoto Stadium in Chōfu (a suburb of Tokyo), which will host the opening ceremony and opening match, and the Yokohama Stadium, which will host the final. The complete revised list of Rugby World Cup 2019 venues is:[2]

Chōfu Yokohama Fukuroi Higashiosaka
Tokyo Stadium International Stadium Yokohamaa Shizuoka Stadium Ecopaa Hanazono Rugby Stadium
Capacity: 49,970 Capacity: 72,327 Capacity: 50,889 Capacity: 30,000
Fukuoka Toyota
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium City of Toyota Stadium
Capacity: 22,563 Capacity: 45,000
Sapporo Ōita
Sapporo Domea Oita Stadiuma
Capacity: 41,410 Capacity: 40,000
Kumamoto Kobe Kumagaya Kamaishi
Kumamoto Stadium Kobe Misaki Stadiuma Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
Capacity: 32,000 Capacity: 30,132 Capacity: 24,000 Capacity: 16,187

a: Stadium/site used in 2002 FIFA World Cup


Qualification illustrated

The top three teams in each of the four pools at the 2015 Rugby World Cup automatically qualified for the next tournament. Japan finished third in Pool B during the 2015 Rugby World Cup and so finished in a qualifying position – however, by virtue of hosting the tournament, Japan were assured qualification for the tournament before the 2015 Rugby World Cup took place. The remaining eight spaces were decided by existing regional competitions (e.g. the Rugby Europe International Championships) followed by a few cross regional play-offs. The final spot was decided by a repechage tournament in Marseille in November 2018, which was won by Canada.

The below table shows the qualified teams:

Qualified Teams
Region Team Qualification
Previous best result World
Africa   South Africa Automatic 6 Champions (1995, 2007)
  Namibia Africa 1 5 Pool stage
Americas North   United States Americas 1 7 Pool stage
  Canada Repechage 8 Quarter-finals (1991)
Asia   Japan Hosts 8 Pool stage
Europe   England Automatic 8 Champions (2003)
  France Automatic 8 Runners-up (1987, 1999, 2011)
  Georgia Automatic 4 Pool stage
  Ireland Automatic 8 Quarter-finals (1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015)
  Italy Automatic 8 Pool stage
  Russia Europe 1 1 Pool stage
  Scotland Automatic 8 Fourth place (1991)
  Wales Automatic 8 Third place (1987)
Oceania   Australia Automatic 8 Champions (1991, 1999)
  Fiji Oceania 1 7 Quarter-finals (1987, 2007)
  New Zealand Automatic 8 Champions (1987, 2011, 2015)
  Samoa Play-off winner 7 Quarter-finals (1991, 1995)
  Tonga Oceania 2 7 Pool stage
Sudamérica   Argentina Automatic 8 Third place (2007)
  Uruguay Americas 2 3 Pool stage
     Qualified       Failed to qualify
     Did not enter or not a World Rugby full member

All the qualifying teams had previously qualified for the World Cup at least once. The most notable absence for the 2019 tournament was Romania, who had played in every previous tournament, but were effectively disqualified after fielding ineligible players during the qualification process.[9]


The pool draw took place[10] on 10 May 2017 in Kyoto.[11] The draw was moved from its traditional place of December in the year following the previous World Cup, after the November internationals, so that nations had a longer period of time to increase their World Rankings ahead of the draw.[12]

The seeding system from previous Rugby World Cups was retained with the 12 automatic qualifiers from 2015 being allocated to their respective bands based on their World Rugby Rankings on the day of the draw:

  • Band 1: The four highest-ranked teams
  • Band 2: The next four highest-ranked teams
  • Band 3: The final four directly qualified teams

The remaining two bands were made up of the eight qualifying teams, with allocation to each band being based on the previous Rugby World Cup playing strength:

  • Band 4: – Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1
  • Band 5: – Oceania 2, Americas 2, Play-off Winner, Repechage Winner

This meant the 20 teams, qualified and qualifiers, were seeded thus (World Ranking as of 10 May 2017):

Band 1 Band 2 Band 3 Band 4 Band 5

The draw saw a representative randomly draw a ball from a pot, the first drawn ball went to Pool A, the second Pool B, the third Pool C and the fourth Pool D. The draw began with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe drawing the pool of which hosts Japan were allocated to. The draw continued on to Band 5, drawn by Japanese Olympian Saori Yoshida, followed by Band 4, drawn by former Japanese rugby international Yoshihiro Sakata, then Band 3, drawn by All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen with the first team being drawn being allocated to Pool B, Band 2, drawn by Mayor of Yokohama Fumiko Hayashi and finally Band 1, drawn by World Rugby chairman and former English rugby international Bill Beaumont.


Each team must submit a squad of 31 players.

Opening ceremonyEdit

The opening ceremony is scheduled for 20 September 2019 in Tokyo Stadium.[13]

Pool stageEdit

The twenty teams are divided into four pools of five teams. Each pool will be a single round-robin of ten games, in which each team plays one match against each of the other teams in the same pool. Teams are awarded four league points for a win, two for a draw and none for a defeat by eight or more points. A team scoring four tries in a match is awarded a bonus point, as is a team that loses by fewer than eight points – both bonus points are awarded if both situations apply.[14]

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D


  New Zealand
  South Africa

  United States


The teams finishing in the top two of each pool advance to the quarter-finals. The top three teams of each pool receive automatic qualification to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Tie-breaking criteria

If two or more teams are tied on match points, the following tiebreakers apply:

  1. The winner of the match between the two teams
  2. Difference between points scored for and points scored against in all pool matches
  3. Difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all pool matches
  4. Points scored in all pool matches
  5. Most tries scored in all pool matches
  6. Official World Rugby Rankings as of 14 October 2019

If three teams were tied on points, the above criteria would be used to decide first place in the pool, and then the criteria would be used again (starting from criterion 1) to decide second place in the pool.

Key to colours in pool tables
Advanced to the quarter-finals and qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Eliminated but qualified for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Pld = Number of games played; W = Number of games won; D = Number of games drawn; L = Number of games lost; TF = Number of tries scored (Tries For); PF = Total number of points scored by the team (Points For); PA = Total number of points scored against the team (Points Against); +/− = The difference, PF − PA; BP = Bonus pool points; Pts = Total number of pool points.

Pool AEdit

Pld W D L TF PF PA +/− BP Pts
  Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Russia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
20 September 2019 Japan   v   Russia Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
22 September 2019 Ireland   v   Scotland International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama
24 September 2019 Russia   v   Samoa Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya
28 September 2019 Japan   v   Ireland Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi
30 September 2019 Scotland   v   Samoa Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe
3 October 2019 Ireland   v   Russia Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe
5 October 2019 Japan   v   Samoa City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota
9 October 2019 Scotland   v   Russia Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi
12 October 2019 Ireland   v   Samoa Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka
13 October 2019 Japan   v   Scotland International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama

Pool BEdit

Pld W D L TF PF PA +/− BP Pts
  New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
21 September 2019 New Zealand   v   South Africa International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama
22 September 2019 Italy   v   Namibia Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiōsaka
26 September 2019 Italy   v   Canada Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka
28 September 2019 South Africa   v   Namibia City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota
2 October 2019 New Zealand   v   Canada Oita Stadium, Ōita
4 October 2019 South Africa   v   Italy Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi
6 October 2019 New Zealand   v   Namibia Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
8 October 2019 South Africa   v   Canada Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe
12 October 2019 New Zealand   v   Italy City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota
13 October 2019 Namibia   v   Canada Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi

Pool CEdit

Pld W D L TF PF PA +/− BP Pts
  England 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  France 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  United States 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
21 September 2019 France   v   Argentina Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
22 September 2019 England   v   Tonga Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
26 September 2019 England   v   United States Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe
28 September 2019 Argentina   v   Tonga Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiōsaka
2 October 2019 France   v   United States Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka
5 October 2019 England   v   Argentina Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
6 October 2019 France   v   Tonga Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto
9 October 2019 Argentina   v   United States Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya
12 October 2019 England   v   France International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama
13 October 2019 United States   v   Tonga Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiōsaka

Pool DEdit

Pld W D L TF PF PA +/− BP Pts
  Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
  Uruguay 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 +0 0 0
21 September 2019 Australia   v   Fiji Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
23 September 2019 Wales   v   Georgia City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota
25 September 2019 Fiji   v   Uruguay Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi
29 September 2019 Georgia   v   Uruguay Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya
29 September 2019 Australia   v   Wales Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
3 October 2019 Georgia   v   Fiji Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiosaka
5 October 2019 Australia   v   Uruguay Oita Stadium, Ōita
9 October 2019 Wales   v   Fiji Oita Stadium, Ōita
11 October 2019 Australia   v   Georgia Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi
13 October 2019 Wales   v   Uruguay Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto

Knockout stageEdit

Winner Pool C
Runner-up Pool D
Winner Pool B
Runner-up Pool A
Winner Pool D
Runner-up Pool C
 Third place
Winner Pool A
Runner-up Pool B


19 October 2019
16:15 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Pool C v Runner-up of Pool D

19 October 2019
19:15 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Pool B v Runner-up of Pool A

20 October 2019
16:15 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Pool D v Runner-up of Pool C

20 October 2019
19:15 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Pool A v Runner-up of Pool B


26 October 2019
17:00 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Quarter-final 1 v Winner of Quarter-final 2

27 October 2019
18:00 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Quarter-final 3 v Winner of Quarter-final 4

Bronze finalEdit

1 November 2019
18:00 JST (UTC+09)
Loser of Semi-final 1 v Loser of Semi-final 2


2 November 2019
18:00 JST (UTC+09)
Winner of Semi-final 1 v Winner of Semi-final 2

Match officialsEdit

World Rugby named the following twelve referees, seven assistant referees, and four television match officials to handle the 48 matches:[15]


For the first time, the domestic rightsholder will not serve as the host broadcaster of the tournament. Instead, International Games Broadcast Services (IGBS), a joint venture between Host Broadcast Services (HBS) and IMG, will handle production of the footage distributed to rightsholders. IGBS will utilize production resources from traditional rugby nations such as Australia, France, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Japanese broadcaster NHK plans to originate coverage of selected games in 8K resolution, using a combination of nine 8K cameras and upconverted 4K resolution footage from IGBS. The International Broadcast Centre will be located outside Tokyo Stadium.[16][17]

Country/Region Broadcaster Summary Ref
  Japan (host) Nippon TV (free-to-air), NHK (free-to-air), J Sports, DAZN All 48 matches live respectively [18]
International Digital Platforms (unsold markets) All 48 matches live
Sport24 (in-flight/ship)
  Albania DigitAlb All 48 matches live on SuperSport.
  Australia Network Ten (free-to-air) 10 of 48 matches live (one opening group match, all 4 Australia team matches, and 5 knockout matches (both quarter finals, one semi final, and both Bronze-Gold finals)) [19][20]
Fox Sports All 48 matches live
  Austria ProSiebenSat.1 Media All 48 matches live on Ran. 31 matches, including opening group match and final free on Maxx. [21]
  Belgium Telenet All 48 matches live on Play Sports
Caribbean ESPN All 48 matches live in Portuguese (ESPN Brasil only) and Spanish [22]
Latin America
  Czech Republic RCS & RDS All 48 matches live on Pragosport
  Fiji Fiji TV (free-to-air) All 48 matches live [23]
  France TF1 (free-to-air) All 48 matches live [24][25]
  Georgia GPB All 48 matches live and free on both First and Second channels
  Hong Kong beIN Sports All 48 matches live (32 of 48 matches live for viewers in Malaysia). [26]
Southeast Asia
  Ireland RTÉ (free-to-air) 14 of 48 matches (including opening group match, all 4 Ireland team, and all 8 knockout matches) [27][28]
Eir Sport All 48 matches live on Eir Sport 1 or Eir Sport 2 [29]
  Malaysia RTM 16 of 48 matches live and free, also available on Sports channel.
  Netherlands Ziggo All 48 matches live on Ziggo Sport [30]
  New Zealand TVNZ (free-to-air) Opening match live, all NZ team matches,1 quarter final (which will be the NZ quarter final assuming the NZ team progress past the pool stage), both semi finals and the final. [31]
Spark All 48 matches live. [32][33]
Nordic countries NENT All 48 matches live on Viaplay. Selected matches broadcasts on every linear channels. [34]
  Poland Polsat All 48 matches live on Polsat Sport
  Portugal Sport TV All 48 matches live
  Russia Match TV All 48 matches live
  South Korea MBC Sports+ All 48 matches live
Sub-Saharan Africa SuperSport All 48 matches live
  United Kingdom ITV (free-to-air) All 48 matches live on ITV, ITV4, ITV Hub, and STV Player [35]
S4C (free-to-air) 9 of 48 matches live in Welsh language (one opening group match, all 4 Wales team matches, and 4 knockout matches (one quarter final, one semi final, third-place and finals)). [36]
  United States NBC Sports, NBC (free-to-air) All 48 matches live on NBC Sports Gold. 26 matches to air live on NBCSN (23 group matches(including all 4 USA matches and the opening match), and three knockout matches (two quarterfinals, and the final)), and a minimum of three matches to air delayed on NBC (the semifinals and the final) [37][38]
TUDN, Univision, UniMÁS (free-to-air) All 48 matches live on TUDN. 26 matches to air live on UniMÁS (23 group matches(including all 4 USA matches and the opening match), and three knockout matches (two quarterfinals, and the final)), and a minimum of 10 matches to air delayed on Univision (including the semifinals and the final)


^1 Rankings as of 16 September 2019 will be entered when available.


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External linksEdit