The door to 2019 has been flung open and several new eras for Japan have been ushered in along with it — another year of the zodiac boar, the year that Sony is expected to unveil their newest gaming console, the year in which we’ll bear witness to the abdication of Emperor Akihito after 30 years on the Chrysanthemum Throne, and most importantly (for some of us anyway), it is the year that Japan will finally play solo host to one of the biggest competitions in sport, the Rugby World Cup.

While the anticipation is set to gradually build over the coming months before reaching fever pitch when the tournament kicks off in September, the ticket buying frenzy is already underway. So if you haven’t got yours purchased, the time to do so is nigh.

2019 Rugby World Cup Details

First things first, Japan is hosting the World Cup, not just Tokyo. The capital will indeed feature heavily over the course of the six-week showcase, but whether you find yourself in the far-flung reaches of Honshu, Kyushu in the south or Hokkaido in the wintry north, there’s a good chance that at least a few matches will be played nearby. Twelve venues in 12 cities across 12 individual prefectures will host a variety of matches before the final is played at the Nissan International Stadium in Yokohama on November 2 (more information about host cities can be found here).

Tickets are understandably in high demand with the biggest nations in world rugby – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, England, Wales and more — coming to Japanese shores along with the reappearance of a number of burgeoning teams in the competition such as Georgia, the USA and the Japanese hosts, who will surely be armed with their usual expansive, attacking brand of rugby and the confidence that they can emulate performances like their shocking defeat over South Africa in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup. The Rugby World Cup’s official website even stated that there was a “record demand” across the initial ballot phases for the 2019 iteration of the sport’s biggest tournament.

Nothing to Lose Sleep Over

Rugby World Cup tickets initially became available to the public via a ballot-style online application in September of last year. In essence this was a chance to throw your name into the proverbial hat and hope that some of the tickets that you opted for would get sent your way.

Personally, I came out empty-handed. In January, over a two-day window (January 15–17) the ballot-style system was replaced with a buy-now format that operated on a first-come-first-served basis. However, this was exclusively for initial applicants who didn’t receive any or all of the tickets that they had applied for back in September.

Again, demand was at a record high with over 300,000 customers attempting to buy tickets during the first 24-hour window resulting in some lengthy waiting times. Unfortunately, I descended into a deep slumber while languishing back in 2,000th place in the online queue. Yet again I missed the boat (or rather, I had soundly slept while the boat tried to pick me up from shore). So, what’s the next move?

How to Buy Tickets

Fortunately, all hope is not yet lost. From January 19, first-come-first-served general ticket sales for the World Cup officially opened to the public, and will close on Sunday March 31 – check here for more info.

All tickets that have not been purchased during the initial ballot or the first-come-first-served phase will be up for grabs. While this is great news, it would be remiss of me not add the caveat that many of the most desirable tickets will have already been snagged. Most of the tickets that are still available are for matches between the weaker teams and those that are for seats rated “Category A” and “Premium,” which are considerably more expensive than the other categories of ticket (¥20,000 and up for the higher profile games). Check this link for an in-depth breakdown of ticket prices for the tournament’s pool stages.

Tickets are also sure to go out on resale. You can bet your bottom dollar that prospective overseas fans will get cold feet as the competition approaches and will try to flaunt their tickets in the process. There is an official channel for buying tickets on re-sale, or alternatively you can use online market places like viagogo. While this has worked for me in the past, prices and reliability here can vary. Either way, be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

Update: As of April 1, World Rugby confirmed two new developments in the ticketing process for the Japan World Cup:

• Just over 70% of all allocated tickets were sold at the close of the general ticket sales period on March 31, the remainder of which will be available from May 18 via the 2019 RWC website.

• Secondly, the official resale channel has also been given an opening time of 18:00 (JST) on May 31. This is recommended as the safest option for purchasing tickets second-hand, and offers a 100% guarantee that all tickets will be resold at cost-price. This is expected to attract quite the online frenzy once again, so if you’re interested in the resale option, be sure to be on your toes come May 31.