With 17 out of 20 teams for the Rugby World Cup 2019 confirmed, I thought I would write an article of matches at the World Cup where Tier 2 countries could put one over a Tier 1.

First of all, in the history of the World Cup, it has happened five times. Wales have been beaten by Samoa twice (1991 and 1999) and by Fiji in 2007. The other ones are Tonga beating France in 2011 and Japan beating South Africa in 2015.

An interesting trend here is that all of these are either the first (1991 and 2015) or last pool match (1999, 2007, 2011) for the two teams. Would love to hear your thoughts on the reason for this.

Pool A (AKA The Party Pool): Japan vs Scotland

Steve pointed this one out in his video and I had the same opinion when I first saw the schedule.

Firstly, this is the last pool game for Japan and Scotland, so it follows the trend I have mentioned above.

Japan will come into this game after an eight-day turnaround against Play-off Winner (Samoa or Spain). On the other hand, Scotland will play this game just four days after their match against Romania.

The match will also be played in Yokohama Stadium, the biggest stadium for the tournament. So the big crowd in Japan could put even more pressure on the Scots.

After Ireland’s spectacular Grand Slam, we can say that they are the favourites to top this pool. They have Scotland first up and then face Japan after a six-day turnaround.

This could be another advantage Japan has going into this game because this makes it easier for Japan to pick-up losing bonus points than Scotland (just based on Ireland’s recent success), since Japan will face a tired Irish side.

Pool B: N/A

Unfortunately, neither of the two non-automatic qualifiers are confirmed for this pool.

Pool C (AKA Pool of Death): England vs USA and Argentina vs USA

The Pool of death is even deadlier with these two matches scheduled unfavourably for the Tier 1 nations.

England vs USA:

USA’s first match, against England, could allow USA to become unpredictable to Eddie Jones’ men.

For England, this match in Kobe is just four days after their match against Tonga in Sapporo.

What makes it worst for England is that Sapporo and Kobe is a flight distance of 2 hours away. The flight duration isn’t too bad but mid-September is the peak of the Typhoon season in Japan. So there is a risk of flight delays and/or cancelled outdoor training sessions.

Argentina vs USA:

This one could be an even better opportunity for the USA.

This is Argentina’s last pool match, so it also follows the trend I mentioned in the introduction.

The USA comes off a seven-day turnaround against France but Argentina will play this match just four days after their Tier 1 match against England.

Pool D: Wales vs Georgia

This match fits perfectly with the pattern described in the introduction.

Welsh fans will be sick of hearing that three of the five Rugby World Cup upsets in history have been conceded by Wales. This is also the first match for both of these nations.

Georgia did surprise some fans by beating Tonga in their first match of the previous tournament. They will be looking to rise this up by a notch in Japan next year.

Last of all, I would love to hear your thoughts. The schedule can be found at the link here.


Author: Kaito Goto


  1. I’m so looking forward to Japan vs Scotland – it seems so fitting after Japan were sold out by the schedule in 2015, losing to Scotland only 4 days after their heroic performance against South Africa. Japan will have so much to play for in front of a home crowd as well.

    • Thanks Jack for your comment. I absolutely agree, an eight-day turnaround for this match and the home crowd will massively help Japan next year unlike in 2015. Btw, flash looking profile pic!

  2. Japan v Scotland will be huge. Georgia need a good world cup if they want to be even considered to join the 6 nations. I don’t feel there will be one pool of death in Japan but lots of close pools. Pool D for example is almost a repeat of the 2015 RWC pool A.

    • Thanks for your comment Archie, I don’t know if you can say Georgia is as good as England for Pool D to be equivalent to 2015 Pool A, but who knows! Georgia has a lot of potential and have a lot to play for like you have said.

  3. I really dont see the USA upsetting England in any way. England is way too strong in every sense, and with the depth they have from 1 to 23 in their squad even a four day turnaround after a gruelling game against Tonga with some travel delays and typhons dont set the USA up for any sort of upset. Of course anything can happen at the RWC, I really dont see it.

    • Thanks for your comment, Russell. Yes, all of these upsets are more likely not to happen than happen. I do agree the England vs USA is probably the least likely upset out of the four. England has a lot of depth but they also have a lot of uncontrollables against them this tournament.

  4. Yep definitely think that the biggest chance of an upset is Japan v Scotland. The Scots are on the up and are capable of beating pretty much anyone. But Japan on home turf, with 70 odd thousand supporters behind their back, after 8 days of rest compared to Scotland’s 4. Could be interesting.

    • Thanks for your comment George, as a Japanese fan, I am absolutely looking forward to Japan vs Scotland. I agree, I think the second most likely is Argentina vs USA and then followed by Wales vs Georgia.

  5. Georgia v Wales,
    Why ?
    Georgia narrowly lost to wales in Cardiff during the autumn internationals.
    Georgia looked like going over the line in the last 2 min of play. with a pick and go from just 5 yds out following repeated Wales infringements, but Wales were very lucky to be awarded penalty when under their own posts at the very death. It’s still a complete mystery to me why Georgia were penalized !

    Expect Georgia to benefit from plenty of training time together ahead of RWC 2019, coupled with playing on neutral grounds, its a huge opportunity for this amateur team to surprise Wales, or Fiji, or who knows even Stralia might have a shock.
    What are the odds on Wales and Georgia both making it through. how much would you be against it ?
    Has all the makings of a 2019 pool of death !

    • Georgia are currently training alongside England and I bet their management are picking Eddie Jones brain over the recent game against Wales. The timing of this cooperation is too slick to be accidental. I think Georgia are definitely focussed on beating Wales in the RWC 2019.

      • Thanks for the comment Steven, I wasnt aware of that. I hope Georgia can light the World Cup in the opening round with an upset. Looking back at this article I wish I added Fiji’s potential of pulling out an upset, like they did in November. I also hope Tonga can repeat their 2011 RWC upset over France.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here