Where is the Rugby World Cup 2019?
From Twickenham to Tokyo.
For the first time in the event’s history the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place outside the traditional heartland of the sport, this year heading to Japan. For the ninth edition of the tournament, rugby fans will travel across the globe to Asia where the Land of the Rising Sun will play host to the 44-day event, bringing 20 international teams to 12 stadiums across the country
A naturally polite and friendly nation, Japan will offer a warm welcome to its visitors as rugby fans from far and wide embark on the experience of a lifetime, uniting in this unique and beautiful setting for the simple love of the game.
With the flight now in touching distance we’ve rounded up the need-to-knows about rugby in Japan, places to visit between games plus local weather and what to pack if you’re going.
Rugby in Japan
Rugby has been played in Japan for over a century with the first recorded game in 1866 taking place in Yokohama, the city that this year will host the final of the tournament in the 72,000-capacity stadium.
The Japanese national rugby team, known as the Brave Blossoms, are famous for their fighting spirit, having steadily risen through the ranks over the last 20 years and currently placing 10th in the world.
This year the host nation team are out to prove that through hard work and a never-give-up attitude even a minor team can overcome the odds. Riding the back of a stunning victory over South Africa in the 2015 RWC, expect to see big performances in front of the home crowd of this ambitious team.
Running from Friday 20 September to Saturday 2 November, the RWC falls at the perfect time of year to visit Japan. With highs of 28° in September dropping to 18° in November it’s not too hot, but not cold either, ideal temperatures for spectating in the stands.
Thanks to the warmer weather, England supporters will stand out in a sea of white as they don the iconic white jersey, proudly showing to the world the passion of the rose. Our official RWC cap with embroidered RWC19 and CCC logos lets fans cheer on international teams in style while staying safe in the sun, and for those slightly cooler evenings, you can pack our lightweight leisure hoody complete with the RWC graphic.
Where to go
There’s plenty of time between matches, so why not enrich your experience and explore the culture and history of Japan? Escape the blur of people and flashing neon of the bustling cities by paying a visit to one of Japan’s 20 UNCESCO World Heritage Sites including incredible castles, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
No trip to this country would be complete without a visit to the capital, the most populated city in the world with over 38 million inhabitants. Home to the Sunwolves Super Rugby team, Tokyo will see the action kick off between Japan and Russia at the sports hub of the city, the Ajinomoto Stadium. Named after the stadium sponsor – a leading Japanese food company – it has been rebranded at the ‘Tokyo Stadium’ for the RWC, hosting eight games and the opening ceremony of the tournament.
A great city for sports fans as the birthplace of Japanese rugby, the metropolitan district of Yokohama has many urban skyscrapers alongside beautiful harbour scenes, especially at the area known as Minato Mirai. As for the stadium, Yokohama International is the first multi-purpose circular stadium – a rarity throughout the world. The largest in Japan, also known as the Nissan stadium, it’s a choice venue for several world-class sporting events and it was here that Brazil faced off with Germany for the 2002 FIFA World Cup final.
Under an hour from Tokyo by train, Yokohama is a must-visit destination for rugby world cup supporters. After the match, head to Yoshidamachi, Noge where you’ll find plenty of sport bars and pubs, and other rugby fanatics to knock back a few beers with.
Another impressive venue is The Sapporo Dome, the first stadium in the world with a ‘hovering soccer stage’ – a retractable surface allowing it to host both rugby matches on a grass field and baseball matches on an artificial field.
Popular with locals and tourists alike, this futuristic stadium is like no other in the world, offering fantastic views of city and the outlying mountains from the 53m observation deck. Take a flight from Tokyo and discover the vibrant urban hub of this stadium’s home offering a diverse food scene, including the iconic Sapporo Beer and famous hot springs of Jozankei Onsen just an hour away.
If the language barrier and exotic cuisine proves a bit of a culture shock, the match day experience inside the stadiums should feel a bit more like home, until you start hankering after that half-time pie that is.
But while at first glance there are many more differences than there are similarities between the unique traditions of Japan and the familiarities of the Western world, there are more cultural crossovers than you might think.
Japanese food has become increasingly fashionable and popular outside of Asia. Dishes like sushi, tempura, noodles and teriyaki are some of the most common foods served in restaurants in the UK while fast food staples Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC can all be found in Japan if you’re craving a taste of home.
From pop music to video games, from designer fashions to anime series based on 19th century European attire and manners, despite being opposite sides of the globe, both Japan and Europe share a love of each other’s culture.
A country of contrasts, Japan will no doubt offer a completely different rugby experience to what you’re used to with something for every visiting fan to enjoy, regardless of the performance of their home team.