The Runner Sports

2019 Rugby World Cup Pool Draw

It may feel as though the Webb Ellis Cup was just handed to the New Zealand All Blacks for a second consecutive time at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but the action is already stirring for 2019’s rendition, set to take place in Japan. Twenty teams will take to four pools where the top two teams from each will advance to the quarterfinal knockout stages, where they will also qualify automatically for the 2023 World Cup (along with the third best team in each pool), currently being bid on by France, Ireland, and new to the party South Africa.

A fledgling rugby nation, this will be the first time Japan will host the Rugby World Cup, or any Asian country for that matter. They will then follow it up with the Summer Olympics in 2020. Currently ranked 11th in the World Rugby rankings, the host nation will be far from the front-runner come kickoff, but will certainly tug on everybody’s heart strings as the underdogs to root for.

Japan will feature 11 state of the art stadiums with the knockout rounds happening at International Stadium Yokohama, a 72,000-seated arena some 26 miles (43 km) south of Tokyo. The venue played home to the final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup joint bid (Japan & South Korea).

Twelve teams have already qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup by virtue of previous World Cup finishes. The sides are broken into three bands based on their current rankings. Of each band, each team will draw into separate pools.

Band 1: New Zealand (1), England (2), Australia (3), and Ireland (4).

Band 2: Scotland (5), France (6), South Africa (7), and Wales (8).

Band 3: Argentina (9), Japan (11), Georgia (12), and Italy (15).

That is where the draw will focus on today. And without further ado the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw:

2019 Rugby World Cup Draw

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
Ireland New Zealand England Australia
Scotland South Africa France Wales
Japan Italy Argentina Georgia
Europe 1 Africa 1 Americas 1 Oceania 1
Playoff Winner Repechage Winner Oceania 2 Americas 2

Where’s the rest of the qualifiers?

As you take a look at the above pool breakdowns, you likely quickly realize we’re well short of a full field. Eight more teams are yet to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In all, there are five total bands (in conjunction with the three above bands with pre-qualifiers). The same rule applies to all of them, no two teams from one band will draw into the same pool.

Band Four: Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1,

Band Five: Oceania 2, Americas 2, Playoff winner (between Europe 2 and Oceania 3), Repechage winner.

That still likely doesn’t tell you everything so let’s take a deeper look into some of the remaining qualifying scenarios.

Oceania 1 & 2

The top two finishers via combined results from the 2016 & 2017 Pacific Nations Cup will lead to the draw for Oceania 1 & 2. Fiji and Samoa will have the early advantage, with each possessing wins in last year’s tournament compared to Tonga’s winless 1-point table finish. The road will not end there for the loser of the Pacific Nations draw, as they will slide into a playoff with the second place finisher of the Rugby Europe Championship as Oceania 3. A win there will send them to the field as Playoff Winner, but a loss will result in their qualifying for the Repechage tournament.

For other Oceania nations, the winner of the 2017 Oceania Cup (featuring American Samoa, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, and Vanuatu) will face off with the winner of the 2018 Asia Rugby Championship (Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea) for a place in the Repechage tournament.

Europe 1

With Georgia already qualified, Europe 1 is a pretty straightforward draw. The top remaining finisher from the 2017 & 2018 Rugby Europe Championship will jump automatically into the field, currently led by Romania following 2017’s leg.

The next best team (Europe 2) will meet the third place finisher of the Pacific Nations Cup (Oceania 3); winner will qualify for the World Cup (Playoff Winner), loser will slot into the Repechage tournament. Spain currently idles in second but trails Romania narrowly with Russia knocking on their own door.

The rest of the European qualifying process is a bit confusing, so feel free to follow along with World Rugby’s not so convenient diagram. The remaining sides from Rugby Europe Conference 1 (Czech Republic & Malta) & 2 (Hungary & Bosnia and Herzegovina) will meet with the winners facing the right to play the Rugby Europe Trophy winner in 2018 for an off chance to make the Repechage tournament.

Americas 1 & 2

Americas 1 will be an easy enough two-legged playoff between USA and Canada. The first leg will take place June 24 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario. Leg two will follow suit on July 1 and be played at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California. USA is coming off their first ever Americas Rugby Championship, winning four games and drawing to Argentina XV. Canada struggled meanwhile, picking up just one win in four matches.

The loser of that series will face the winner of the 2017 South American Rugby Championship (Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil). That winner will take Americas 2. The loser will enter the Repechage tournament.

Africa 1

This will be an easy enough scenario to follow as this distinction will go to the winner of the 2018 Africa Cup. Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe all still vie for an automatic berth. The six sides will meet in a round-robin tournament with the top four sides advances to 2018’s field. The winner of that will earn Africa 1.

The second place finisher of that field will meet the first place finisher of Division 1B (Botswana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, and Morocco) for a chance at the Repechage tournament.


Following all of the regional qualifications, the Repechage will be a round-robin tournament comprised of the best remaining non-qualified teams to earn the final designation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup field. The winner of which will slot into the already daunting looking Pool B.


The final qualifications will not have taken place until November 2018, so there is plenty of time for this situation to muddy up. Some of those qualifications come up in the coming months. International side rugby begins its slow and steady shift back to the World Cup. Don’t miss a moment of the action.

Tyler Arnold

Tyler Arnold

I am the founder and editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. I've been an avid sports fan since I was a child and have turned that love into a profession. I will watch, comment, and break down anything I can get my hands on, from football to white water rafting in the Olympics. Your visit means a lot to me, so thank you for your readership.
Tyler Arnold