Beginner’s Guide to the Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup 2019 begins on Friday so it’s the perfect time to get up to speed with the world’s biggest rugby tournament!

Webb Ellis Cup

The Rugby World Cup in a Nutshell

The Rugby World Cup is a Rugby Union knockout tournament played every 4 years between the world’s top national teams. This year’s competition is taking place from 20th September until 2nd November, with 20 teams taking part.

How did the Rugby World Cup begin?  

1919 saw rugby’s first “world cup” played but it wasn’t until the 1950s that proposals for a regular tournament began circulating. After decades of discussion and rejections the first official Rugby World Cup was held in 1987, jointly hosted by New Zealand and Australia, with 16 teams competing. The first Women’s Rugby World Cup was held in 1991.

You can find out more in our Brief History of the Rugby World Cup.

Where is Rugby World Cup 2019 being held?

Japan are the hosts of Rugby World Cup 2019. 48 matches will played in 12 venues across the whole of the country, with the Final being held at the International Stadium Yokohama.

How does the Rugby World Cup work?

20 teams are participating in Rugby World Cup 2019. There are 4 pools of 5 teams who will battle it out to reach the Quarter-Finals, where the final 8 teams are whittled down to 4 for the Semi-Finals. The Bronze Final (contesting 3rd and 4th place) is then played the day before the Final.

Trophies 

The winner of the Rugby World Cup is awarded the Webb Ellis Cup, named after William Webb Ellis, the school boy who allegedly first picked up the ball and ran with it at Rugby School in 1823.

Which team has had the most success?

New Zealand has won the tournament 3 times – in 1987, 2011 and 2015. Australia and South Africa have both won twice, with England winning once – in 2003.

Who do you think will take the trophy this year?


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