There are just 500 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in Japan and preparations for the tournament, which involves 48 matches over six weeks, are on track and progressing at a fast pace.

  • Over 500,000 participants in Asia 1 Million legacy project
  • Tournament preparations progressing well with 500 days to go
  • Strong domestic and global ticketing demand
  • Successful first rugby match held at Sapporo Dome venue
  • Front Row member priority application phase begins on 19 May

There are just 500 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in Japan and preparations for the tournament, which involves 48 matches over six weeks, are on track and progressing at a fast pace.

Strong global ticketing demand, the recent announcements of the 52 team camps selected to host the 20 competing nations, the launch of the ‘no-side’ volunteer programme and confirmation of more than 500,000 participants to date in the Asia 1 Million Impact Beyond legacy programme, have been followed by the successful staging of the first rugby match at the Sapporo Dome in Hokkaido Prefecture.


The match between Meiji University and Teikyo University was attended by 14,500 fans and underwent a successful test of its conversion from a baseball stadium to its rugby format.

Sapporo Dome is the most northern of the 12 host venues that span the length and breadth of Japan, ensuring that the whole nation will share in the excitement of hosting Rugby World Cup 2019.

Alongside the match at Sapporo Dome more than 80 boys and girls participated in a rugby introduction day as part of the Impact Beyond Rugby World Cup 2019 legacy programme.

The Japan Rugby Football Union, together with the 12 host city unions, governments and rugby schools, are running 155 rugby introduction days for children new to the game across Japan in the months of April, May and June. In April alone, there were 100 rugby introduction days in Japan.

Japan 2019 marks the first time the world’s third largest sports event will be hosted in Asia and every effort is being made across the continent to maximise this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the sport across the region.

World Rugby set the ambitious target of reaching one million players by 2020 across the continent as part of the Impact Beyond strategy. As of the end of April 2018, Project Asia 1 Million has already reached more than 500,000 participants through various growing the game programmes across Asia with support from Japan, Asia Rugby and World Rugby.

Asia Rugby, the regional association affiliated to World Rugby, has invested directly into Asia 1 Million projects in China, India, Pakistan and the Philippines since 2017 and is looking to invest into more countries in 2018.

The Asia Rugby Championship, which acts as a Rugby World Cup qualifying competition, is currently ongoing and while players, coaches and fans continue to build up towards the big event, a squad of the world’s top match officials are this week attending a training and preparation camp led by World Rugby High Performance Match Officials Manager Alain Rolland in Sydney.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With 500 days to go preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019 are on track and moving forwards at a fast pace. The Impact Beyond legacy programme is making great progress throughout Japan and across the continent. It is encouraging to see that already more than 500,000 men and women, boys and girls have been given their first taste of rugby as part of the Asia 1 Million project.

“Successfully hosting the first rugby match in the Sapporo Dome is another important step towards operational readiness for the tournament and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the organising committee over the coming 500 days to ensure a fantastic Rugby World Cup in 2019.”

Commenting on the first rugby match at Sapporo Dome, the Mayor of Sapporo City Mr. Akimoto said: “I am honoured to host Rugby World Cup 2019 at Sapporo Dome. This is a new milestone for Sapporo Dome and we are looking forward to establishing the culture of rugby.”

Kenta Fukuda, the captain of Meiji Uni, added: “We could hear lots of cheers clearly from the supporters and we had a nice game at the stadium. We really appreciate this opportunity.”

Demand for tickets for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup has been strong in the initial phases of the ticketing programme as nearly 1,200,000 applications were received by fans from more than 100 nations.

The beginning of the Front Row/Supporters’ Club priority sales phase on 19 May represents the next opportunity for fans to get their hands on tickets. Further information about the ticketing programme can be found at

Mastercard, as a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019, is offering those who apply for tickets using their Mastercard the chance to receive a double entry in the ticketing ballot for the opportunity to secure tickets to each of the matches they apply for.

To celebrate the 500 days to go milestone rugby fans around the world are being challenged to #FindRugby as part of a global social media campaign, which runs until 19 May. By posting images or videos of oval, rugby ball shaped objects in combination with the hashtags #FindRugby and #500DTG on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, fans will stand a chance of winning tickets to the Rugby World Cup, among other prizes.