Here’s the latest on next year’s World Cup in Japan – from tickets to tattoos


One year to go until the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Japan kick off the first Rugby World Cup to be staged in Asia against Russia on Friday 20 September 2019, so with just a year to go until the tournament we bring you a rundown of the latest goings-on…

Tickets in demand

RWC 2019 organisers have talked about an unprecedented demand for tickets for next year’s tournament, with a large sign-up for travel packages as well as huge interest from local fans. There have already been 2.5m ticket applications for 1.8m seats, although demand for certain matches is higher than others.

Naturally matches involving Japan have been hugely popular while England – with former Japan coach Eddie Jones at the helm – and New Zealand – the All Blacks brand is strong in Asia – are also proving to be a big draw.

The global public ballot is now open, too, and runs until 12 November – head to for all the information you need to register for tickets.

Leaving a legacy

The word ‘legacy’ is often bandied around when it comes to big sporting events, but World Rugby believes Japan 2019 will be “the most impactful Rugby World Cup to date”.

World Rugby set a target of introducing one million youngsters in Asia to rugby before the tournament and have already reached 900,000 so are likely to exceed their goal.

Tag rugby has also been added to the curriculum at 1,982 schools in host cities, with 200,000 schoolchildren getting a taste for the sport so far.

“Japan 2019 is shaping up to be World Rugby’s most successful legacy programme to date and with one year still to go, is already setting a gold standard for engagement across the sporting spectrum,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

“Creating a sustainable legacy is a central pillar in our major event planning and delivering a tangible, long-term impact beyond the six-week event is critical to the event’s success. Inspiring interest in rugby across Asia was one of the core reasons for bringing the Rugby World Cup to Japan.”

Legacy: Organisers are hoping to grow rugby in Japan after the World Cup (Getty Images)

Live on TV

While World Cup rights-holding broadcasters do not have to show every match live, World Rugby is aiming to ensure that people will be able to watch all the games with live streams.

For example, if ITV – the UK rights holders – choose not to show Fiji v Uruguay on Wednesday 25 September, World Rugby is likely to put out a live stream online of that match in the UK.

Changes of allegiance

In the lead-up to the last World Cup, Tim Nanai-Williams played for Samoa on the World Sevens Series so he could represent Samoa at England 2015 having previously been tied to New Zealand (he had played the abbreviated game for them).

Related: What are rugby’s eligibility rules?

Sevens inclusion in the Olympics has opened this loophole in rugby and allows players to switch allegiance if they play in an Olympic qualifying event.

While anyone who wants to be able to represent a country who are a core team on the Sevens Series can play in those legs to become ‘uncaptured’ so to speak, other nations will play in regional qualifying tournaments between June and December 2019.

The dates of these, which should be confirmed by 31 October, could prove significant because if they are before the World Cup it gives an opportunity for players to become eligible for a different country in time for kick off in Japan.

Switch: Charles Piutau has said he wishes to play for Tonga, despite playing for the All Blacks (Getty Images)

Take Charles Piutau. The former All Black has spoken about wanting to play for Tonga at the 2019 World Cup and if the Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament is next summer he will have an opportunity to become eligible for selection. If it is later in the year it will be too late for him to switch for RWC 2019.

Related: Exclusive interview with Charles Piutau

Tattoos cover-up

With tattoos having negative connotations in Japan – they are associated with the Yakuza (organise crime syndicates) – players are being advised to cover up any ink they may have when in public swimming pools, by wearing a T-shirt for example.

There is no official regulation on this and player will not be required to cover any tattoos for matches, but they are being made aware of the local culture and Alan Gilpin, the head of Rugby World Cup, says teams have responded well.

“It’s about education both ways,” says Gilpin. “We will make (Japanese) people aware around the facilities that players will use that people with tattoos in a Rugby World Cup context are not part of the Yakuza.

“When we raised it with the teams a year or so ago, we were probably expecting a frustrated reaction but there hasn’t been at all. We won’t force anyone to cover up but teams do want to be respectful of Japanese culture. It will all be self-policing.”

Respect: Teams will show respect to Japanese culture by covering many tattoos in public places (Getty Images) 

Free RWC 2019 guide

The November issue of Rugby World magazine, which goes on sale on Tuesday 2 October, comes with a FREE 52-page guide to the 2019 World Cup. It’s packed with details of the teams, the fixtures and the stadiums as well as a wealth of information on travelling in Japan – where to go, what to see, which foods to eat and so on – for those fans going to the tournament. Be sure to pick up a copy next month.

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