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Sports / Rugby

The most memorable moments from the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Posted 07 Sep 2023


Looking ahead to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, fans and pundits are hopeful this will be one of the most spectacular tournaments to date. The venues look great and the upcoming matches look even better. 

But, just four years ago, and still fresh in our minds, Japan became the first Asian country to host the tournament. Despite unique difficulties and challenges, the 2019 Rugby World Cup will always be cherished as a resounding success, creating many special memories. 

Japan shared its rich culture and put on a great show, from the opening ceremony to the pulsating final, when South Africa beat England to reign supreme. 

While the 2019 tournament was uniquely memorable for so many reasons, let’s take a look at some of the best moments. 

Incredible moments of team brilliance at the 2019 RWC

Fans always hope to enjoy moments of both individual and collective brilliance. The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan certainly dished up many of those, including more than a few surprising outcomes along the way, which added to the captivating nature of this tournament. 

Having managed just two victories in previous World Cup appearances, Uruguay claimed an important scalp in 2019 by participating in arguably one of the most exciting matches. The tears of joy were genuine after they had produced a stunning 30-27 win against South Pacific powerhouses, Fiji. 

The host nation also defied all expectations, particularly when they came up against a highly fancied Irish side where they put on a fine display of attacking rugby. Japan caused a huge upset and they ran out 19-12 winners in that game. It was the pinnacle of an exceptional tournament for Japan. 

New Zealand were keen to put on quite the display in their 71-9 trouncing of Namibia. Nobody will forget the moment Brad Weber swiped the ball behind his back, sending a remarkable pass for TJ Perenara to charge forward with aplomb, scoring the try of the tournament. 

England’s ‘V’ response to the Haka

The All Blacks' Haka, one of the most vibrant displays of national pride in rugby, is a tradition to be reckoned with. Whenever New Zealand perform their Haka before games, rival teams can often find it difficult knowing how to react. But when England faced them at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, they came up with the perfect response. 

New Zealand had won back-to-back tournaments in 2011 and 2015, so heading into an enthralling semi-final clash with England, confidence was high. Nevertheless, they probably didn’t bank on the Red Rose side being quite such a thorny opponent. 

When the All Blacks began performing their intimidating Haka, the England team boldly stared right back at them in a V for victory formation. England players later said they wanted to be respectful, but at the same time, show they were ready for the battle ahead. 

This moment of psychological resistance actually worked for England, who made a flying start when Manu Tuilagi scored the opening try within two minutes, putting his team on the path to a memorable 19-7 victory that booked their place in the final. An inspiring moment. 

Moving and emotional anthem tribute in Japan 

We can’t remember the 2019 Rugby World Cup without its most poignant moment - the landfall of a destructive cyclone. Typhoon Hagibis resulted in the loss of more than 100 lives and caused widespread damage across Japan. 

For the first time in Rugby World Cup history, three pool matches were cancelled due to safety concerns, mostly affecting teams based in Tokyo. But after the worst of the storm had passed, the game between Japan and Scotland went ahead in Yokohama. 

Sentiment and grief marked the occasion, as the Japanese team and fans tearfully sang the national anthem, showing their heartfelt respects for those affected by the typhoon. This was an emotional moment for the whole country ahead of such an important rugby match. 

Determined and inspired, the Cherry Blossoms marked the occasion with a spectacular performance, beating Scotland 28-21 in an atmosphere filled with emotion. Furthermore, this result also secured Japan their first ever knockout stage appearance in tournament history. 

Kolisi makes international rugby history 

Siya Kolisi made history at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. After South Africa beat England 32-12 in the final, he became the first black team captain to lift the iconic Webb Ellis Cup. In doing so, he realised a lifelong dream and provided rugby fans around the globe with a truly inspirational moment.

The significance of triumphing in the Rugby World Cup wasn’t lost on Kolisi. He said, “We come from different backgrounds, different races, but we came together with one goal and we wanted to achieve it”, eloquently highlighting the importance of leading a South African team that was united by their sporting ambitions. 

After taking on the role in 2017, Kolisi was the first black male in history to captain the Springboks. He proudly hoped this moment would influence millions of aspiring young rugby players in South Africa. 

Certainly a fitting tribute to the sport of rugby, following what had been a truly memorable tournament in Japan. The significance of Kolisi raising the trophy as the ‘World in Union’ anthem played, well, that was the most iconic moment of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Enjoy more memorable moments at France 2023 

Moments like these are what made the 2019 Rugby World Cup so memorable. The tournament itself will undoubtedly be fondly remembered by all fans who attended, soaking up the incredible atmosphere provided by host nation Japan. 

This has led to high expectations ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, given that fans are keen to watch rugby live and experience all the raw emotion for themselves. This has created an increased demand for match tickets.

Whatever team you’ll be cheering for and whichever games you’re keen to attend, Zenseats has the 2023 Rugby World Cup fully covered from start to finish. So book with confidence and don’t miss out on being at this wonderful tournament. 


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