Excited? You should be...the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan has finally arrived and your next six weeks is going to be a rugby union-fuelled extravaganza of action. The first match of the tournament kicks off today, with hosts Japan taking on Russia. But it won't be long before the likes of the All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks and England are out on the pitch.
It's shaping up to be the most evenly-contested tournament in its history, and you can watch all the action, no matter where you are, by following our Rugby World Cup live stream guide below.
2019 Rugby World Cup - where and when
The 2019 Rugby World Cup will kick off today (Friday, September 20) at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Chōfu, Tokyo when hosts Japan will take on Russia. The tournament is set to end with the final on November 2 at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a full 2019 Rugby World Cup FAQ.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of tipsters are split between New Zealand, their neighbours Australia, and South Africa as to who will win the tournament.
Nevertheless, the balance of power in the rugby world has shifted towards the northern hemisphere in recent years, with Wales, Ireland, and England all having been in and around the world number one ranking position, and Scotland not too far behind.
Or is this the year that one of the less fashionable nations step up and show what they can do? We all know how dangerous Argentina are, but what of Fiji, Georgia and the hosts themselves?
If you want to know where you'll be able to watch every single match, we'll tell you exactly where you can catch it online with a Rugby World Cup live stream and the broadcasters that are showing it absolutely FREE. No matter where on Earth you are, we'll make sure you know where to catch the coverage.
How to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup from outside your country
You don't have to miss a single minute of the 2019 Rugby World Cup - even if you're abroad and discover that your home broadcaster's online coverage is geo-blocked (we hate it when that happens).
If that happens to you and you're desperate to watch your domestic coverage - whether that be in the UK or Australia (where it's free), New Zealand or the US (where it isn't) or anywhere else in the world - there's still a way to get it that doesn't involve putting your security at risk with some dodgy, illegal stream from Reddit. You can simply use a VPN to login back to your country that is broadcasting the actions, and it's really easy to do:
We've tested all of the major VPN services and we rate ExpressVPN as the absolute best, thanks to it's killer combination of security, speed and simplicity to use. It's also compatible with loads of streaming devices such as Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox and PlayStation, as well as Android and Apple mobiles. So to get that home broadcast and stay safer online, ExpressVPN is your best option (or one of the other best VPN services out there as listed below).
1. Express VPN (comes with a 30 day money back guarantee) This is the #1 rated best VPN in the world right now, with those previously mentioned levels of security, speed and compatibility putting it to the top of the list. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan to get 49% off and 3 months extra absolutely FREE.
2. NordVPN: SmartPlay tech makes NordVPN a great choice for streaming. It's really affordable, too
3. IPVanish supports up to 10 devices, so great on the go
Once installed, you simply open the VPN app, hit 'choose location' and select the appropriate location - it's super easy to do. Choose any country showing the Rugby World Cup and watch as if you were in that country.
How to stream Rugby World Cup 2019 live in the UK for FREE
There's wonderful news for rugby fans in the UK - all 48 World Cup matches will be shown free-to-air across various ITV platforms.
Most games will be broadcast on ITV1, though ITV4 will also provide coverage. Fans can also live stream the action via the ITV Hub on a variety of devices including smartphones and tablets.
Meanwhile, Welsh-language channel S4C will also be showing nine games throughout the tournament including all four Wales group matches plus one fixture per round in the quarter and semi-finals, the third-place play-off and the final.
if you're not in the UK but want to catch up with the World Cup coverage, then you'll need a VPN to relocate your IP to the UK and get around the region restrictions. Just follow those instructions above.
Live stream the Rugby World Cup in Australia for FREE
The Aussies are one of the only countries around the world that actually have some live rugby from the 2019 World Cup that's free to watch. Every Wallabies game plus two quarter-finals, the semi-finals and final will be shown in all their glory on Channel 10 and through 10 Play.
Paid-for service Fox Sports meanwhile is showing every match of tournament via a dedicated Rugby World Cup channel.
Australians can also live stream Rugby World Cup action via the Kayo Sports streaming service, which features no lock-in contracts and also includes access to over 50 sports, both live and on demand. Kayo Sports Basic Package costs $25 per month and allows users to stream across two devices simultaneously. Alternatively, the service also offers a Kayo Sports Premium Package, which provides three concurrent streams for $35 per month.
The 10 Play, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports apps means you can access this from your chosen device wherever you are (although you'll need a VPN if you're taking that abroad).
How to watch the Rugby World Cup 2019 in New Zealand FREE
TVNZ will be screening 12 matches free to air in New Zealand, including delayed coverage of all the All Blacks' pool matches and quarterfinal, plus live coverage of the semi-finals and final.
Streaming service Spark Sport , meanwhile has snagged the rights to show all matches of the 2019 Rugby World Cup live. Spark will cost $89.99 for a Tournament Pass to cover every match, or you can hand over $24.99 per match.
Spark Sport is available via web browsers on your PC, plus Apple and Android phones and tablets. You can also watch on Chromecast and selected Samsung TVs, with plans to make the app available on Apple TV and Smart TVs later in the year.
If you're outside New Zealand and want to watch the coverage from TVNZ or Spark Sport, you can use one of our favorite VPNs above and watch the coverage from another nation.
How to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup: US live stream
In the US, NBC Sports is the official broadcaster for the Rugby World Cup 2019 so you'll need to sign-up if you're not already receiving this channel.
For the most extensive coverage NBC has to offer, you can subscribe to NBC Sports Gold, which is offering a Rugby World Cup Pass for $199.99, delivering live, on-demand and commercial free coverage of the tournament. Single matches can also be purchased for $29.99
Cable cutter, but still want to watch the Rugby World Cup? You can also watch via one of the below TV streaming services. They're fast becoming the best way to watch otherwise cable-only shows and sports - and they pretty much all have a free trial, too:
- Hulu with Live TV $40 per month - Hulu with Live TV includes CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.
- FuboTV $35 for the first month - FuboTV gives you the first month at a discounted rate but after that the price increases to $45 a month. The service includes CBS, Fox, NBC and the NFL Network but does not come with ESPN.
- DirecTV Now $50 per month - DirecTV Now includes CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and for $5 extra you can add the NFL Network.
- YouTubeTV $40 per month - YouTubeTV gives you access to CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.
Live stream Rugby World Cup 2019 matches in Canada
In Canada the rights to show the Rugby World Cup 2019 are owned by TSN So that means you can access this via your TV, online or on the TSN app.
If you want to catch it but are out of the country, you can use a VPN to access the rugby coverage.
What is the format of the 2019 Rugby World Cup?
The Rugby World Cup is a twenty-team tournament. Each country begins in one of four pools that each contain five teams. Each team plays one match against each of the other teams in the same pool.
The teams finishing in the top two of each pool advance to the quarter-finals from where the tournament goes into a familiar knockout format.
Who are the favourites for the Rugby World Cup?
While Ireland go into the tournament as the world’s no.1 ranked team, three-time World Cup winners New Zealand are the clear favourites with Betfair.com to once again lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
What teams are competing in this year's Rugby World Cup?
Mario Ledesma's side have a decent record to uphold, having advanced to the Rugby World Cup knockout stage four times and finished fourth in 2015. They come into the tournament however on a a losing streak of four defeats on the trot, but those did come at the hands of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
The second-most successful nation in World Cup history alongside South Africa. All the morale of their emphatic 47-26 win against New Zealand in Perth last month has dissipated somewhat after they were crushed 36-0 by the All Blacks in the return fixture in Auckland the following week.
An ever-present nation at the World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987, they've only ever progressed beyond the opening round on one occasion. Currently ranked 22 in the world, the Canucks will be targeting a win as minimum against minnows Namibia in Pool B and build from there.
While they may be one of the favourites, England coach Eddie Jones will be anxious to see his side start their campaign on the front foot and quickly eradicate the ghosts of the last World Cup which saw them make an embarrassing pool stage exit while tournament hosts. They come into this year's World Cup on a high following a 57-15 victory over Ireland at Twickenham in the run-up, but question marks persist over the squad's apparent lack of experience.
Traditionally one of the more entertaining teams at the World Cup, despite their much heralded flair, the Flying Fijians have failed to make it out of the pool stage in the preceding last two tournaments. Drawn alongside Australia and Wales this time out, the odds of it being third time lucky for coach John McKee's side this time out aren't high.
Three-time runners-up France head to Japan ranked 8th in the world. The emergence of young stars like Antoine Dupont and Demba Bambawill will provide plenty of optimism, but Pool C is arguably the toughest group of the tournament and Les Bleus will do well to make it through to the next phase.
Having reached the last four successive World Cups, the Lelos have steadily improved over the years and will fancy their chances of making their chances of making their way out of the pool phase for the first time. The return of all-time leading try-scorer Mamuka Gorgodze to the fold will come as a welcome boost to morale.
The Irish started the year as strong favourites to win their first World Cup following their Grand Slam winning 2018 Six Nations campaign and an impressive win over the All Blacks. Hopes for Japan, however, have since been tempered, with their humbling against England at Twickenham last month setting alarm bells ringing. Two warm-up wins since against fancied Wales will have regalvanised Joe Schmidt's side, and the starting line-up should be further boosted by the return from injury of Johnny Sexton.
The Azzurri are putting their faith in youth, with 23 members of their squad having never appeared before at rugby's main event. One of the few old-head's is skipper Sergio Parisse, who will be appearing in a record-equaling fifth World Cup.
The hosts came agonisingly close to making it past the group stage for the first time back in 2015, missing out despite winning five times. Progressing to the last-eight will be a prerequisite this time out for the team playing on home turf.
The rank outsiders have consistently qualified for the World Cup since 1999, but have never have never won a single match once at the tournament, racking up an unwanted 0-19 win-loss record in the process. Their recent 20-0 loss to Russia indicates that getting off the mark in Japan looks unlikely.
Despite having lost their seemingly perpetual place as the world's no.1 team recently (a spot they had held for a decade), New Zealand haven't lost their standing as the most fancied team to win the 2019 World Cup. A mixed showing during the recent Rugby Championship won't have a put off pundits from backing Steve Hansen's men to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time in a row.
While they may have made it to the Japan thanks to the disqualification of Spain and Belgium for fielding ineligible players, Russia won't be going in to the tournament to make up the numbers. They face the hosts in the 2019 World Cup's opening match and came close to beating Japan back in November last year.
Consistent qualifiers for the World Cup, Somoa will be looking to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time. To pull off that feat they'll need to improve on their recent form which has seen them lose to both the USA and Tonga during last month's Pacific Nations Cup.
With the likes of flyhalf Finn Russell and fullback Stuart HoggIn in their roster, the Scots aren't lacking top drawer talent. What they do a have a deficit in is consistency - as exemplified by their two contradictory performances against France last month.
Versatility could be the key attribute for two-time champions South Africa this time out. Packed with explosive pace from the likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi, the Springboks also have a kicking game that is the envy of most rivals. In Rassie Erasmus they also have the best named coach in the tournament.
With a squad littered with talented players plying their trade in New Zealand, Australia, England and France, coach Toutai Kefu will be out to finally get his side into the knockout stages for the first time. Having notched up creditable eight wins in their last 21 Test matches, its a goal that looks eminently achievable.
A kind draw with winnable opening matches against Fiji and Georgia gives the South American side a fighting chance of making through to the last eight for the first time.
Ranked 13th in the world, there were mixed fortunes for the USA in the recent Pacific Nations Cup which saw them stutter to a win against Samoa, thrash Canada, but get thumped against Japan. They've never won more than one game at a World Cup, but will likely rectify that during this year's competition.
The loss to injury of Gareth Anscombe and Taulupe Faletau would be huge blow for most teams, but luckily for coach Warren Gatland, Wales has plenty of strength in depth among the ranks. More concerning will be a dip in form in the run up to Japan which has seen them lose to England and Ireland, a contrast to the 14-game winning streak Wales enjoyed at the start of the year.
2019 Rugby World Cup fixtures
All times in BST
Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Samoa
Japan vs Russia Tokyo Stadium Friday, September 20 11.45am
Ireland vs Scotland International Stadium Yokohama Sunday, September 22 8.45am
Russia vs Samoa Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Tuesday, September 24 11.15am
Japan vs Ireland Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa Saturday, September 28 8.15am
Scotland vs Samoa Kobe Misaki Stadium Monday, September 30 11.15am
Ireland vs Russia Kobe Misaki Stadium Thursday, October 3 11.15am
Japan vs Samoa City of Toyota Stadium Saturday, October 5 11.30am
Scotland vs Russia Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa Wednesday, October 9 8.15am
Ireland vs Samoa Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium Saturday, October 12 11.45am
Japan vs Scotland International Stadium Yokohama Sunday, October 13 11.45am
New Zealand vs South Africa International Stadium Yokohama Saturday, September 21 10.45am
Italy vs Namibia Hanazono Rugby Stadium Sunday, September 22 6.15am
Italy vs Canada Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium Thursday, September 26 8.45am
South Africa vs Namibia City of Toyota Stadium Saturday, September 28 10.45am
New Zealand vs Canada Oita Stadium Wednesday, October 2 11.15am
South Africa vs Italy Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa Friday, October 4 10.45am
New Zealand vs Namibia Tokyo Stadium Sunday, October 6 5.45am
South Africa vs Canada Kobe Misaki Stadium Tuesday, October 8 11.15am
New Zealand vs Italy City of Toyota Stadium Saturday, October 12 5.45am
Namibia vs Canada Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium Sunday, October 13 4.15am
France vs Argentina Tokyo Stadium Saturday, September 21 8.15am
England vs Tonga Sapporo Dome Sunday, September 22 11.15am
England vs USA Kobe Misaki Stadium Thursday, September 26 11.45am
Argentina vs Tonga Hanazono Rugby Stadium Saturday, September 28 5.45am
France vs USA Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium Wednesday, October 2 8.45am
England vs Argentina Tokyo Stadium Saturday, October 5 9am
France vs Tonga Kumamoto Stadium Sunday, October 6 8.45am
Argentina vs USA Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Wednesday, October 9 5.45am
England vs France International Stadium Yokohama Saturday, October 12 9.15am
USA vs Tonga Hanazono Rugby Stadium Sunday, October 13 6.45am
Australia vs Fiji Sapporo Dome Saturday, September 21 5.45am
Wales vs Georgia City of Toyota Stadium Monday, September 23 11.15am
Fiji vs Uruguay Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium Wednesday, September 25 6.15am
Georgia vs Uruguay Kumagaya Rugby Stadium Sunday, September 29 6.15am
Australia vs Wales Tokyo Stadium Sunday, September 29 8.45am
Georgia vs Fiji Hanazono Rugby Stadium Thursday, October 3 6.15am
Australia vs Uruguay Oita Stadium Saturday, October 5 6.15am
Wales vs Fiji Oita Stadium Wednesday, October 9 10.45am
Australia vs Georgia Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa Friday, October 11 11.15am
Wales vs Uruguay Kumamoto Stadium Sunday, October 13 9.15am
Take place between October 19-20
Take place on October 26 and 27 International Stadium Yokohama
Friday, November 1 10am
International Stadium Yokohama
Saturday, November 2 10am