Rugby World Cup Japan 2019: Everything you need to know

Last updated at 15:06
Manu-Tuilagi-runs-with-the-ball.Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup begins in Japan this September and is the biggest tournament in the sport of rugby union.

The first Rugby World Cup was held in 1987. Until that point the USA were considered world champions in the sport having won the Olympic games in 1924.

Like in football the Rugby World Cup happens every four years. The competition is one of the biggest sporting events in the world (along with the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics).

The tournament will start on 20 September and lasts until 2 November.

How does the Rugby World Cup work?

There are only 20 places available in a Rugby World Cup, so teams must compete for those spaces in a qualifying competition. Teams that reached the knockout stages of the previous tournament automatically qualify for the next tournament.

The 20 teams competing this year are: : Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Russia, Japan, Samoa, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Italy, France, USA, Tonga, Argentina, Australia, Fiji, Uruguay, Georgia and Canada.

There are four groups of five countries. With teams playing each of their group opponents once. The top two in each group go into the quarter-finals with winners progressing to the semi-final and then the final.

There is also a third and fourth play-off for the bronze medal for the losing semi-finalist.

The current champions are New Zealand who have made it to the semi-finals in each World Cup bar one, in 2007.

So that's one interesting stat, read on if you want to find out some more...

A-whistle.New Zealand Rugby Museum
A Welsh referee called Gil Evans used this whistle in 1905, it has been used in tournaments ever since
Same whistle

The same whistle is blown for the opening game of every Rugby World Cup tournament. It was first used in 1905 by a Welsh referee during a game between England and New Zealand which New Zealand won 15-0.

The referee of the match was Welshman, Gil Evans. After the game Gil gave the match whistle to another referee, Albert Freethy.

Almost twenty years later, Albert was still using the whistle! He used it during the 1924 Olympic rugby final.

In 1969, the whistle was donated to the New Zealand Rugby Museum. It was used to start the first match of the 1987 Rugby World Cup and that started the tradition.

Rugby-world-cup-trophy.Getty Images
The William Webb Ellis Cup is named after the man who is said to have invented the game
The Trophy

The World Cup winners are awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup - William Webb Ellis was, according to popular myth, the man who invented the game.

In 1823, so the legend goes, William Webb-Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, picked up the ball and ran with it and it was that moment that the game of Rugby Football began.

Namibia-v-Australia-at-the-Rugby-World-Cup-2003.Getty Images
Australia battered Namibia in the 2003 World Cup
Biggest score line

At the World Cup in 2003, hosts Australia beat Namibia 142-0. New Zealand are the only team to score more points in a match, defeating Japan 145-17 in 1995.

Jonny-Wilkinson.Getty Images
Jonny Wilkinson is the top scorer in the Rugby World Cup
Top scorer

England's 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson remains the top points-scorer in Rugby World Cup history.

He's registered 277 points, from one try, 28 conversions, 58 penalties and 14 drop-goals. His most important drop-goal coming in the dying moments of the World Cup final against Australia, winning England the tournament.

When is the Women's Rugby World Cup?
New Zealand win 2017 Women's Rugby World CupGetty Images
New Zealand defeated England in the final to win the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup

The Women's Rugby World Cup is held every four years. The next tournament is scheduled for 2021 in New Zealand who are the holders. It will be the first Women's Rugby World Cup to be held in the southern hemisphere.

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