Guide To The 2019 Rugby World Cup
Rugby takes centre stage this September as the 2019 World Cup crowns a cracking year of sport. After a summer filled with the greatest global prizes in sports as diverse as cricket, netball and women’s football, it’s the turn of the union code as Japan stages its first-ever men’s Rugby World Cup.
12 different venues, stretching some 1,000 miles across Japan, from the city of Sapporo in the mountainous north to the subtropical volcanic island of Kyushu in the south, play host to the 20-nation, 48-match pinnacle of the oval game.
New Zealand enters the tournament as hot favourites to defend the title they have won at the last two editions of the World Cup. The All Blacks have sat at the top of the international rankings for much of the year, but it’s Ireland who kick-off as the world number 1 having clinched top spot with victory over Wales in the final warm-up game ahead of the competition.
This year is the first time the greatest prize in the sport has been hosted outside of the traditional rugby strongholds. The international game is looking for a boost in global interest as the ninth edition of the championship aims to mix up the glorious traditions of the sport with a dash of Japanese culture and a taste of the Far East.
If you fancy a bet on rugby over the World Cup, make sure to head over to Bet UK’s online betting markets for the latest odds for all matches throughout the tournament. We’ll be keeping you updated with the latest Rugby World Cup betting tips for the biggest matches from Japan on our sports blog.
If you are a fan of rugby and are looking forward to Premiership Rugby returning this month, then make sure to head over to Bet UK's Premiership Rugby betting tips, for pre season previews and weekly tips for the biggest matches.
Format of the 2019 World Cup
The World Cup begins with an initial four pools of five countries from which two will qualify. Eight nations will enter the knock-out stages with a quarter-final and semi-final round before the victor is crowned on Saturday 2nd November.
The 2019 World Cup - A First For Japan And For Rugby
So, the stage is set and the venues are ready - well, all but the new 60,000-seater national stadium in Tokyo which was ruled out as being ready for the World Cup as far back as four years ago.
The rest of the best venues that Japan has to offer will play host to the rugby world’s finest during the six-week tournament. The climax will be held inside the International Stadium, Yokohama - the biggest stadium in the country, holding as it does over 70,000 spectators.
The showpiece venue will also stage the pick of England’s group games when Eddie Jones’ men take on France in their final Pool C game on 12th October. The Pool A match between the host nation and Scotland on the fourth Sunday of the tournament will also be held inside the Nissan-sponsored stadium.
The Venues For The 2019 Rugby World Cup
Sports fans will recognise plenty of the other stadia in use during the Rugby World Cup - most notably from the 2002 footballing equivalent - with venues combining cutting-edge technology and Japanese sporting culture.
The Shizuoka Stadium in the coastal city of Fukuroi will host three group matches and two quarter-finals. The venue was the scene for Ronaldinho’s “wonder goal or fluke” 35-yard freekick which spun past a floundering David Seaman as Brazil eliminated Sven-Göran Eriksson’s England in the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
300 miles to the east of Fukurio lies the Kobe City Misaki Stadium, home to the Kobelco Steelers, current champions of Japan’s rugby union Top League. This will be the venue for England’s second pool stage match against the USA on the 26th of September.
Retracing our steps with a three-hour journey back west brings us to the 45,000-capacity City of Toyota Stadium. This one stages four group matches and is home to troubled Top League union side Toyota Verblitz. The team owned by the car manufacturer of the same name were forced to withdraw from Japan’s domestic cup competition earlier in the year after two players were arrested for possession of cocaine.
Among the other eight stadiums in use for the World Cup is the Sapporo Dome. The multi-use arena will be one of the few venues not threatened by humid conditions and the potential for typhoon-driven rain, lying as it does some 1,200 kilometres north of Tokyo. The Dome witnessed David Beckham’s penalty in the 2002 “group of death” as England edged out Argentina.
History of the Rugby Union World Cup
The Union game was without a true global competition until the mid-1980s. The Home Nations plus the Republic of Ireland had opposed the idea of a World Cup until a change of heart in 1985.
The inaugural event took place two years later and was won by New Zealand who had championed the original idea of bringing together the best international teams from both hemispheres along with France and co-hosts Australia.
That first All Blacks victory was followed by further winners from the Southern Hemisphere in each of the next four-yearly editions. Australia emerged victorious in both 1991 and 1995 with South Africa taking the title in the intervening tournament.
From a British perspective, England’s win in 2003, with a squad featuring World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees, captain Martin Johnson, flanker Lawrence Dallaglio and tournament top point scorer Jonny Wilkinson, lives long in the memory. Wilkinson’s last-ditch drop-goal - with seconds to go - ranks as one of the most dramatic finales in sporting history and earned him the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year that year.
Since then, All Black dominance of the competition has continued with two more New Zealand triumphs, most recently when England were hosts four years ago. That haka-inspired win followed a second South African victory in 2007.
Favourites for the 2019 Rugby World Cup
New Zealand (5/4) may be the favourites, chasing as they are a hat-trick of consecutive titles, but it’s impossible to discount the rest of the giants of international rugby lying just behind them at the top of the 2019 Rugby World Cup betting.
South Africa (4/1) cannot be discounted after their recent southern hemisphere Rugby Championship victory, while England (4/1) is also on the up once more after a solid 2019. Both are generally rated at around joint-second favourites in the betting.
Chasing a third World Cup title, the Springboks have been grouped in Pool B with New Zealand and a second-place finish should probably set them up with a quarter-final outing against Pool A favourites Ireland.
Wales (10/1) can finally boast a squad sprinkled with world-class players ahead of a World Cup. That should have the Welsh in with a chance of a good run. And if you fancy a punt on the other Rugby World Cup dark horses, Scotland (50/1) could be the pick - they should make the knock-out stages ahead of Japan (100/1) in Ireland’s group.
Check out our favourites for the Rugby World Cup blog for our thoughts ahead of the tournament.
How To Watch The 2019 Rugby World Cup
A trip to Japan for the World Cup would tick off two from most rugby fans’ bucket lists, but for those watching from their armchairs, the tournament will be beamed live on terrestrial TV in the UK. Most matches will be on ITV1 with a further 10 to be shown on ITV4.
Local time in Tokyo is 16 hours behind British Summer Time so the matches will kick-off in the morning over here.
Some of the coverage begins as early as 5.45am UK time, but the group stage games featuring England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all commence from 8.15am onwards. Remember, the clocks go back by an hour on the 27th of October - the weekend of the semi-finals.
So who are you backing to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup? If you’re looking to make a wager or two, from individual games to the outright winner, you can find all the latest rugby union betting odds right here at Bet UK.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
If you are betting on the Rugby World Cup, please gamble responsibly and remember that when the fun stops, stop. All players must be 18+.