The Tournament

The Rugby World Cup is the third largest event in world sport behind the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup. It was first played in 1987 and there have been nine tournaments to date, with the most recent being contested in Japan in 2019, where South Africa’s Springboks became only the second team in history to win three tournaments. Every four years the Rugby World Cup brings together the best 20 rugby nations in the world after an extensive qualification process usually involving almost 100 countries and more than 200 matches.

In 2019, the tournament broke new ground by going to Asia for the first time where Japan was the host country and looking to build on a memorable 2015 tournament, where they pulled off the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history by defeating current world champions South Africa. The Springboks were on the receiving end of one of the biggest stories of the 2015 tournament, and the game in Japan went to an unprecedented high when a record national television audience of 25 million tuned in to watch the ‘Brave Blossoms’ defeat Samoa that same year.

Momentum was with Japan as they hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and they put on a unforgettable tournament as the national team emerged from the pool phase undefeated and qualified for the knockout stage for the very first time. Japan’s run came to an end in the quarter-finals as they fell to eventual world champions South Africa, but major upsets over Ireland and Scotland left an indelible mark alongside a warm and welcoming local population that truly embraced hosting the rugby world.

All images above are from the print edition and were supplied by Action Images.