Rugby World Cup 2019 breaks records and wins hearts during special and emotional pool stage

World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have praised the people of Japan, the teams and fans after 37 matches that showcased the best of Japan and the best of rugby on and off the field.

Rugby World Cup 2019 breaks records and wins hearts during special and emotional pool stage

  • More than 1.8 million tickets sold across all 48 matches
  • More than 864,000 fans attend official Fanzones
  • Brave Blossoms win hearts around the world
  • Broadcast records smashed
  • Close matches, unexpected results have characterised pool stage
  • Monumental effort to get matches on at the weekend

World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have praised the people of Japan, the teams and fans after a pulsating pool stage that showcased the best of Japan and the best of rugby on and off the field, while delivering record broadcast, social and digital media outcomes.

An emotional final weekend of pool play that characterised the unbreakable spirit of a remarkable tournament, saw a monumental effort by organisers, cities and the people of Japan to make matches happen in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis. With the devastation across areas of Japan, Canada and Namibia made headlines around the world for assisting with the clean-up operation in Kamaishi, while the Brave Blossoms’ emotional victory over Scotland was a gift to the people of Japan, generating global headlines.

Other highlights of a remarkable tournament so far include: The incredible warmth of the Japanese welcome as rugby mania swept the host nation, a spectacular opening ceremony, fans embracing Japanese culture and helping to clear stadia of rubbish, the rapturous scenes in packed Fanzones as Japan registered the result of the tournament and the heroic performances of the likes of Namibia, Uruguay, Canada and USA.

More than 1.8 million tickets for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup have been sold across all 48 matches through official channels with an average of 99 per cent of tickets sold across all venues. Reflecting how the excitement of the tournament has captured the wider Japanese public, a record 864,000 fans have attended packed Fanzones, many local people seeing rugby for the first time. 

Focus on fans and fun

The tournament is one of the most talked about sports events in the world, with social media content outperforming that of the whole of Rugby World Cup 2015 thanks to a focus on fans and fun. In Japan, a single market peak rugby live television audience of 50 million is anticipated to be announced for NHK’s broadcast of the Brave Blossoms victory over Scotland when Japan secured their first-ever quarter-final place, building on more than 30 million for Japan v Samoa on NTV, 30 million on NHK for Japan’s famous win over Ireland and 20 million for the opening match against Russia.

On the field, the performances of the teams outside of the Six Nations and Rugby Championship set the tournament alight. Aside from Japan’s two pulsating upsets, every team went the full 80 minutes, causing difficulty for higher ranked opposition. Once again, the overall winning margin between the 6 Nations/SANZAAR unions and the other teams has reduced to a record low of 30 points.

Sustainable legacy is also a core pillar of the tournament and more than 1.8 million young people have participated in official Impact Beyond participation activities, while Japan’s performances have led to a surge in rugby interest in the host nation. Fan generosity has also characterised the social Rugby World Cup with more than £2 million pledged to the transformational ChildFund Pass It Back programme via ticket opt-in donations and commercial programme donations.

With the final eight matches of the tournament to take place across the next two weeks, World Rugby and Japan Rugby 2019 praised the host cities and venues whose hosting role in Rugby World Cup 2019 is drawing to a close, though many Fanzones will continue to be a part of the excitement.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to be with those who have been affected by Typhoon Hagibis. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Japan.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our friends in the Japan 2019 organising committee, in the host cities, match venues and the brilliant staff and volunteers working in the most difficult circumstances to make Sunday’s matches happen for the teams and our remarkable fans, who have shown such understanding.

“In many ways, Japan’s victory over Scotland was for a nation, not just rugby. It reflected the wonderful human warmth and family spirit that has characterised this Rugby World Cup. The Japanese people are the heartbeat of the tournament and have welcomed the teams and fans with open arms.

“From full and vibrant stadia and Fanzones, to record social media, the fans, teams and the people of Japan have shared truly unforgettable moments of friendship, celebration and hospitality.

Sincerest condolences

“The host cities have been fantastic. They have played their part in full. Never has a nation been so unified behind a tournament and never have we seen so many people greeting the teams at training sessions, hotels and public events. It has been remarkable. I would like to pay particular tribute to Kamaishi, whose unbreakable spirit has captured hearts around the world.”

“The teams have certainly played their part, delivering spectacular action. We now look forward to four excellent quarter-finals and continued superb support from the Japanese public as the host nation plays a historic first-ever knock out match.”

Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu added: "As we remember and celebrate all the incredible moments of the tournament so far, we must remember those affected by Typhoon Hagibis. We offer our sincerest condolences to those who have lost loved ones, those injured and the people who have lost their homes and livelihoods. 

“Following 37 amazing pool matches, and the three games we unfortunately had to abandon due to the typhoon, we now have our eight remaining teams. With all the action across the tournament to date; wonderful matches, heart-warming connections between fans from around the world and teams that have embraced every aspect of Japan 2019; it is clear rugby now has a connection with the wider Japanese public few could ever dare imagine. I want to thank all the teams for their part in this, for their work both on and off the field. Thank you also to all the people working behind the scenes and finally, thank you to all the incredible fans here in Japan and across the world. We now look forward with great anticipation to the knock-out rounds.”

As the battle continues for the ultimate prize in rugby there are still plenty of opportunities for fans to engage with the tournament and be part of the biggest Rugby World Cup ever. Tickets remain available via the official ticketing website at, while fans are reminded to only buy from official sources to avoid the disappointment of not being able to enter the stadium.