Held every four years across the globe, the Rugby World Cup is one of the world’s most prominent and exciting sporting events. With global television audiences in the tens of millions, the RWC captures people’s imagination like few other events.
With the 2019 edition of the RWC to be held in Japan, we thought it would be a great opportunity to take a look at the teams that will be involved. Rather than give you detailed rugby analysis though, we’re going to take a look at some of the best things to do in each of the countries that are going to feature. Maybe we can give you a few destinations to add to your travel wishlist?
How does the Rugby World Cup work?
If you’re new to rugby or only a casual fan, this is probably a great opportunity to give you a breakdown on how it works.
This year, the world cup will feature 20 teams from around the globe. The teams are divided into four pools of five. The tournament consists of two stages: the pool stage and the knockout stage.
In the pool stage, there will be four games played each, one against each of the other teams in their pool. Points are awarded based on results with teams earning four points for a win, two for a draw and zero points for a loss. Teams can earn a bonus point for scoring at least four tries in a match or losing by seven or fewer points. The two teams in each pool with the most points at the end of the pool stage will move onto the knockout stage.
The knockout stage consists of quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final. It’s sudden death so if you win, you progress. If you lose, you’re on the next flight home. The knockout stage culminates with the final in Yokohama on November 2nd.
A little bit of Rugby World Cup history
The 2019 RWC will be the tournament’s 9th edition and the first held in Japan. Teams play for the Webb Ellis Cup. Named after William Webb Ellis, the man credited with the invention of rugby.
Past champions include New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England. New Zealand holds the record for most wins with three. While South Africa and Australia are both hot on New Zealand’s heels with two previous successes.
France holds the unfortunate distinction of finishing runner-up three times (1987, 1999, 2011) without yet getting across the line. Who knows, maybe 2019 will finally be their year?
Rugby World Cup Pool A
On paper, Pool A shapes up as one of the more competitive pools. While Ireland is undoubtedly the class of the pool, Japan and Scotland should battle it out for the second place. It looks to be an uphill battle for Russia and Samoa who will likely bring up the rear.
Ireland’s Rugby World Cup
Kicking off our trip around the world is the great country of Ireland. The rolling green landscapes and steep coastal cliffs Ireland is famous for are a must-see. Spend a week driving around Ireland and we guarantee you’ll be amazed by what you see. The Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast are definitely considered a highlight by many.
If you’re looking for a party like no other, make sure you visit for St Patrick’s Day in March. You will find yourself drinking Guinness with a bunch of merry Irishmen all decked out in green.
The northernmost country in the United Kingdom, Scotland is characterised by its many mountains and lakes.
Outside of hunting for mythical monsters, both Edinburgh and Glasgow are worth a look. Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city of Edinburgh, is breathtaking and holds many ancient secrets. Glasgow, by comparison, is Scotland’s cultural hub. You can watch the opera, ballet or discover Glasgow’s thriving music scene.
On a slightly less relevant note, Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn. No, we’re not kidding and no, we don’t know why.
The Rugby World Cup hosts have become somewhat of a tourist mecca for Australians over the last few years. So what’s attracting them all? Well, Japan has a unique blend of ancient traditions, natural beauty, vibrant cities and delicious food.
In terms of things to do, Japan really does have something for everyone. If you’re looking for adventure and an adrenaline rush, Japan’s ski slopes and resorts are some of the best in the world. The rich history is fascinating for those looking for an immersive cultural experience. While the cities will make you feel like you’ve time-travelled into the future with their bright lights and innovative technology.
If you’re looking for the best time to travel to Japan, March and April would be our recommendation. That way, you can be there to see the cherry blossoms bloom. The sea of pink is a sight to behold and should be on the agenda for any person looking to discover Japan.
A country that has historically been shrouded in mystery, you could be forgiven for not having a great idea of what to do in Russia. Lucky for you, we’re here to give you some advice. Given that it’s the world’s largest country by area, there really should be no shortage of things to do.
If you want to stick to the big cities, Moscow and St Petersburg have more than enough things to do to keep you occupied. You can check out the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow or a few of the many breathtaking cathedrals in St Petersburg.
If you want to see the real Russia, consider the world’s most iconic train journey. The Trans-Siberian Railway which will take you all the way across the vast nation. With numerous stops possible along the way, you can plan your trip to suit your needs. While at a minimum you’re looking at a week if you decide to check out a few places along the way you can turn your adventure into one that lasts weeks or possibly months.
Sitting just on the western side of the International Date Line, Samoa is always the first country to see the dawn of the new day. With a population of just under 200,000, Samoa definitely punches well above her weight when it comes to international rugby.
Like most Pacific Island nations, Samoa’s breathtaking beaches are its claim to fame. While we’d love to recommend some other ideas, Samoa’s pristine beaches, clear oceans and coral reefs overflowing with biodiversity are simply too good to miss. Just do some research and find the best resort for you.
Rugby World Cup Pool B
The only group to feature more than one previous champion. New Zealand and South Africa should be heavily favoured to move onto the knockout stage. Italy isn’t a pushover, however, and may present some challenges for the two powerhouses. Unfortunately for Namibia and Canada, they appear to be cannon-fodder and will likely battle it out for fourth place.
The undoubted powerhouse of world rugby, our rivals across the ditch look to be primed for another strong Rugby World Cup campaign. Rather than give them credit for their rugby team though, we’d rather talk about what New Zealand has to offer you.
For Australians, Queenstown has become one of the trendier places to visit. Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, nestled in amongst the Southern Alps.
Dubbed the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown has plenty of activities to get your blood pumping. Bungee-jumping, jet-boating and skiing are just some of the things on offer.
Looking for something a little less fast-paced? Queenstown is close to plenty of vineyards so you can relax and have a glass of wine.
As one of only three teams to win the World Cup more than once, South Africa is always one of the tournament’s biggest threats and 2019 looks to be no different. With another strong line-up, it would be a major surprise if South Africa weren’t there at the business end of the tournament.
If we had to give you one recommendation of where to visit in South Africa, Cape Town would be our suggestions. If you like history, take the ferry to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela spent his years in prison.
The one thing that you must do though is head to the top of Table Mountain. Whether you put in the effort and climb up yourself or take the easy way out using the cable car, you won’t be disappointed. There will be views that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Despite playing in all 8 previous editions of the World Cup, Italy has never managed to progress past the pool stage. Whether 2019 will be different remains to be seen, however, with New Zealand and South Africa in their pool it does seem unlikely.
Rather than dwell on their impending doom though, we’d rather focus on some of the great things you can do in Italy.
Italy is almost unmatched in terms of culture and history. Whether it’s Roma, Milan, Florence or Naples, Italy is an experience unlike any other. Littered with art, architecture, museums and monuments, Italy is a cultural feast that will always leave you wanting more.
If you can’t point out Namibia on a map, that’s OK. If you guessed Southern Africa though, you’re correct. With a population of just over two million, Namibia sits on Africa’s Atlantic coast, sharing a border with South Africa to its south.
Coming up with a suggestion of what to do in Namibia is easy. Namibia is one of the world leaders in ecotourism. With diverse and abundant wildlife, there are a ton of reserves and wilderness lodges for you to explore. Lions, giraffes, hippos and cheetahs: Namibia is home to all the animals everybody wants to see.
Fun Fact: Namibia holds the unenviable record of largest RWC defeat. In 2003, they were on the wrong end of a 142 point hiding by Australia.
Coming into the Rugby World Cup outside the top 20 world rankings, it would be fair to suggest that rugby isn’t Canada’s strength. Luckily, they have a few more strings to their bow. One of the things they do best is undoubtedly tourism.
Canada is one of those countries that has something for everyone. You can ski, visit the amazing national parks, see some incredible wildlife or explore one of the many great Canadians cities. In the end, it’s just going to come down to what you want to do.
If it were up to us though, we’d make sure you check out Banff National Park. Do and quick Google search and check out some of the pictures; they’re amazing!
Rugby World Cup Pool C
England and France are the clear favourites to progress assuming things go to plan. Argentina though is a tough team that could spoil the party. Tonga and the USA may be able to challenge Argentina, however, the might of France and England might be too much for them.
Despite being the inventors of the sport, England have only managed to win one World Cup. This did involve defeating Australia in the final though, so we’d rather talk about something else.
The mother country has always been one of the favourite places for Australians to visit. London, in particular, has long been regarded as one of the best cities in the world to explore.
A modern, 21st-century city with a rich history, you can spend a week in London and not get bored. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye are just a few things to get you started. When you start looking, you’ll soon realise you’re not going to have enough time to see everything you want to.
The perennial World Cup bridesmaid, France will head to Japan looking to finally secure their first Rugby World Cup victory. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t look to be one of the strongest teams they’ve ever put on the park. So, rather than focus on their World Cup chances, let’s look at something more fun.
A trip to France is definitely on the bucket list for plenty of people out there. While recommending a trip to Paris would be easy, we thought we’d find something different for you. A visit to Marseille we think is a great option.
A port city on the shores of the Mediterranean, Marseille is the place you want to visit. With trendy bars and restaurants mixed with museums, galleries and some beautiful beaches, Marseille has whatever it is you desire.
Argentina’s Rugby World Cup
The story of Argentina’s rugby team has been one of growth. Having played in all eight previous editions, Argentina’s first five World Cup campaigns yielded just six victories. Since then though, they’ve started to put it all together. With 13 wins from their last three world cups and a 3rd place finish in 2007, Argentina are on the rise.
While their rugby team has been improving, Argentina’s attraction to tourists has never been questioned. With the Andes to the west and Patagonia to the south, if you’re looking for natural beauty, look no further than Argentina.
Breath-taking landscapes not your thing? Buenos Aires could be for you. With its colonial architecture and vibrant nightlife, you’ll find yourself falling head over heels for the city.
The land of the free and the home of the brave, the USA are never far away from a major sporting event. While 2019 marks their 9th World Cup appearance, they’ve only managed a mere three wins from twenty-five starts. Fortunately, there’s more to America than there rugby team.
In terms of what to do, narrowing it down to just one thing is nearly impossible. In the USA, there really is something for everyone.
Cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are great for those who like to explore urban environments. If you want to immerse yourself in nature, you might want to check out the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Alaska or one of the many national parks. Even if you just want to relax, you can do that too; Hawaii or Florida has just what you need.
By just about every measure of size, Tonga is the smallest nation in this year’s Rugby World Cup. With a population of just over 100,000, the fact that Tonga can even compete on a world stage is remarkable and reflects their incredible passion for the game.
As is the case with most nations in the south Pacific, Tonga is home to beautiful beaches, coral reefs and rainforests.
While its neighbours including Fiji and Vanuatu attract more tourists and are more established as a destination, Tonga retains much of its natural charm. There are still plenty of resorts available in Tonga though. So, you want an island holiday without the crowd, Tonga might be the destination for you.
Rugby World Cup Pool D
With a strong recent track record of success, Wales look primed to make a deep run in the tournament. For our Wallabies, expectations will be high but they should be able to progress to the knockout stage. Fiji is a threat and on their day could challenge the two presumptive favourites. Georgia is a team on the rise but taking on the might of Australia and Wales may be a bridge too far. Unfortunately for Uruguay, they look to be a comfortable last in this group and a win seems unlikely.
We all know about the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House, so we thought it would be good to dig a little deeper.
To most Australians, the Northern Territory represents a far-away, undiscovered land. While Uluru is a highlight, there is so much more to discover. The Kakadu National Park features 20,000 square kilometres of unique, natural beauty. Take in the stunning natural landscapes or investigate some of the ancient Indigenous rock art.
If you want to immerse yourself in the Indigenous culture while still being able to explore the breathtaking natural beauty, Arnhem Land could be worth a look.
It might seem like it’s off the beaten track, but the Northern Territory is undoubtedly one of Australia’s best-kept secrets.
While Wales is considered to be the little brother of the United Kingdom, they’ve been able to develop into a force in world rugby. This stems from their passion for the game with rugby union being considered a symbol and expression of Welsh national identity.
Sitting to England’s west, Wales covers less than half the area of Tasmania. Known for its rugged and mountainous landscape, there are definitely some things in Wales that are worth checking out.
If you’re into adventuring and hiking, the Snowdonia National Park is for you. With glacial landforms and numerous hiking trails, you’ll be kept busy for days.
If you’re looking for something less involved, Cardiff combines historical architecture with a vibrant nightlife. You can spend your day exploring Cardiff Castle and your night visiting one of Cardiff’s many bars and restaurants. It’s the best of both worlds.
Unless you’re an expert on eastern European geography, you’d probably have a tough time pointing out Georgia on a map. For those curious, you’ll find it nestled between Turkey and Russia, with the Black Sea to its west.
While admittedly, Georgia isn’t a tourist hot-spot and is not particularly accessible, that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to visit. If you’re an optimist, you’d say it makes it easier to find hidden gems without having to fight the crowds.
The capital city, Tbilisi’s old town is a must-see. Set against a dramatic hillside, Tbilisi’s old town features churches, monuments and architecture that will take you back in time. There’s plenty to discover as you wander through the winding alleys and hidden courtyards.
Just a three-hour flight from Australia’s east coast, Fiji is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations not only for its accessibility but also its natural beauty.
With its abundance of coral reefs and palm tree-lined beaches, you’d have a hard time finding a better location for tourists looking to relax.
There really are no prizes for guessing what we’re going to recommend. Fiji’s beaches and resorts are almost unrivalled. Kick back and relax and enjoy the best of what Fiji has to offer. Drink cocktails by the pool, go snorkelling around one of the many coral reefs or maybe even go fishing. The one thing we can guarantee is that you’ll be 100% stress-free.
While it lives in the shadows of its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is undoubtedly one of South America’s hidden gems. Despite being the second smallest country in South America, Uruguay leaves many of its nearest neighbours behind in measures of economic development, peace, safety and education.
While at this point it may seem cliche to recommend a beach and resort holiday, Punta del Este on Uruguay’s southern coastline is the jewel in the crown of Uruguayan tourism. With beautiful beaches, a vibrant nightlife and classy resorts, Punta del Este is a great place to unwind.
Final thought on the Rugby World Cup
As you can see, any of the destinations listed above would be an incredible experience. If, however, you need additional funds to cover your trip, you could consider applying for a personal loan through Monzi’s lender-finder service.
Apart from that, we hope this World Cup lives up to the hype, and is enjoyed by people across the globe.
Finally, GO THE WALLABIES!