Pool A of the 2019 Rugby World Cup began on 20 September 2019. The pool included hosts Japan, and previous 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists Ireland and Scotland. They were joined by the European qualifier, Russia, and Samoa, the winner of the European-Oceania Cross-Regional play-off.

Japan won all four of their matches, including surprise victories over both Ireland and Scotland, to finish top of the pool and become the first Asian nation to reach a Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Ireland picked up a bonus point in each of their matches, and their victory over Scotland in their opening pool match proved the difference between the two sides in the hunt for second place. Samoa finished in fourth place, their only win coming against bottom-placed Russia.

Overview

The opening match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup was played in Pool A with Japan scoring a 30–10 win over Russia. Kotaro Matsushima became the first Japanese player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup. For the Russian side, Kirill Golosnitsky scored the first try of the tournament after four minutes – the fastest try ever scored in the opening match of a World Cup.[1] Two days later, Ireland defeated Scotland 27–3.[2] On 24 September, Samoa played their first match against Russia in Kumagaya. Despite Samoa's being reduced to 13 men after Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu'u were sin-binned within two minutes of each other, Russia could not capitalise on their advantage and Samoa went on to win 34–9.[3] Four days later, hosts Japan defeated Ireland 19–12 in what Japan Today called the biggest upset of the tournament. Kenki Fukuoka scored a try in the 58th minute to give Japan a two-point lead after Ireland's Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney had scored the opening two tries. Yu Tamura's conversion and fourth successful penalty kick sealed the result for Japan.[4] Scotland recorded their first victory of the World Cup with a 34–0 whitewash victory over Samoa in muggy conditions in Kobe, with Samoan captain Jack Lam stating that the rugby ball was "a bar of soap."[5]

Three days later, Kobe Misaki Stadium held another match in Pool A – this time it was Ireland, who would whitewash their opponents (Russia) in a 35–0 victory with five different players getting tries for the Irish. The Irish though, did not have everything go right with Jordi Murphy being subbed off in the 27th minute due to a possible rib injury, which added to the Irish back row pain after losing Jack Conan earlier in the tournament.[6] Japan recorded their third victory over Samoa in Toyota with a 85th minute try from Kotaro Matsushima sealing the Japanese a 38–19 bonus point victory.[7] Russia in the final match of the tournament was hammered by Scotland 61–0 with George Horne scoring a hat-trick as the Scots became the first team in World Cup history to not concede a point from two World Cup matches.[8] A red card to Bundee Aki in the 29th minute forced Ireland to go down to 14 men but that was the only blemish with Ireland winning 47–5 over Samoa in Fukuoka. Johnny Sexton scoring two tries for the Irish.[9] Typhoon Hagibis saw the Japan–Scotland match under threat with the Scottish Rugby Union demanding legal action if it was cancelled.[10] But after an inspection deemed the match to go ahead,[11] Japan held their nerve against a fast-finishing Scotland to take home a 28–21 victory with Kenki Fukuoka scoring two tries. The win saw Japan become the first Tier 2 team to qualify since 2007, as they topped the group while Ireland finished in second place.[12]

Standings

Key to colours in pool tables
Advanced to the quarter-finals and qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Eliminated but qualified for 2023 Rugby World Cup
Team
Pld W D L TF PF PA +/− BP Pts
 Japan 4 4 0 0 13 115 62 +53 3 19
 Ireland 4 3 0 1 18 121 27 +94 4 16
 Scotland 4 2 0 2 16 119 55 +64 3 11
 Samoa 4 1 0 3 8 58 128 –70 1 5
 Russia 4 0 0 4 1 19 160 –141 0 0


All times are local Japan Standard Time (UTC+09)

Japan vs Russia

20 September 2019
19:45 JST (UTC+09)
(1 BP) Japan  30–10  Russia
Try: Matsushima (3) 12' m, 39' c, 69' c
Labuschagné 47' m
Con: Tamura (1/3) 40'
Matsuda (1/1) 71'
Pen: Tamura (2/2) 44', 64'
Report Try: Golosnitski 5' c
Con: Kushnarev (1/1) 6'
Pen: Kushnarev (1/1) 61'
Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu
Attendance: 45,745
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Japan
Russia
FB 15 Will Tupou Substituted off 71'
RW 14 Kotaro Matsushima
OC 13 Timothy Lafaele
IC 12 Ryoto Nakamura
LW 11 Lomano Lemeki
FH 10 Yu Tamura Substituted off 67'
SH 9 Yutaka Nagare Substituted off 61'
N8 8 Kazuki Himeno
OF 7 Lappies Labuschagné
BF 6 Michael Leitch (c) Substituted off 71'
RL 5 James Moore
LL 4 Wimpie van der Walt Substituted off 61'
TP 3 Asaeli Ai Valu Substituted off 55'
HK 2 Shota Horie Substituted off 75'
LP 1 Keita Inagaki Substituted off 55'
Replacements:
HK 16 Atsushi Sakate Substituted in 75'
PR 17 Isileli Nakajima Substituted in 55'
PR 18 Koo Ji-won Substituted in 55'
LK 19 Luke Thompson Substituted in 60'
FL 20 Hendrik Tui Substituted in 71'
SH 21 Fumiaki Tanaka Substituted in 61'
FH 22 Rikiya Matsuda Substituted in 67'
FB 23 Ryohei Yamanaka Substituted in 71'
Coach:
New Zealand Jamie Joseph
Japan vs Russia 2019-09-20.svg
FB 15 Vasily Artemyev (c)
RW 14 German Davydov
OC 13 Vladimir Ostroushko
IC 12 Dmitry Gerasimov Substituted off 68'
LW 11 Kirill Golosnitsky
FH 10 Yuri Kushnarev Substituted off 65'
SH 9 Vasily Dorofeev Substituted off 33' Substituted in 42' Substituted off 74'
N8 8 Nikita Vavilin
OF 7 Tagir Gadzhiev
BF 6 Vitaly Zhivatov Substituted off 65'
RL 5 Bogdan Fedotko Substituted off 61'
LL 4 Andrei Ostrikov
TP 3 Kirill Gotovtsev Substituted off 68'
HK 2 Stanislav Sel'skiy Substituted off 65'
LP 1 Valery Morozov Substituted off 65'
Replacements:
HK 16 Evgeny Matveev Substituted in 65'
PR 17 Andrei Polivalov Substituted in 65'
PR 18 Azamat Bitiev Substituted in 68'
LK 19 Andrey Garbuzov Substituted in 62'
FL 20 Anton Sychev Substituted in 65'
SH 21 Dmitry Perov Substituted in 33' Substituted off 42' Substituted in 74'
FH 22 Ramil Gaisin Substituted in 65'
WG 23 Vladislav Sozonov Substituted in 68'
Coach:
Wales Lyn Jones

Player of the Match:
Kotaro Matsushima (Japan)

Assistant referees:
Nic Berry (Australia)
Matthew Carley (England)
Television match official:
Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Notes:

  • This was the first Rugby World Cup opener not to feature a Tier 1 nation.
  • Kotaro Matsushima (Japan) became the first Japanese player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup, and the first player to score one in a Rugby World Cup opener.
  • Russia's try was the fastest to be scored in an opening match of a Rugby World Cup.

Ireland vs Scotland

22 September 2019
16:45 JST (UTC+09)
(1 BP) Ireland  27–3  Scotland
Try: Ja. Ryan 6' c
Best 14' m
Furlong 25' c
Conway 56' m
Con: Sexton (1/2) 8'
Murray (1/2) 27'
Pen: Carty (1/1) 68'
Report Pen: Laidlaw (1/1) 21'
Ireland
Scotland
FB 15 Jordan Larmour
RW 14 Andrew Conway
OC 13 Garry Ringrose
IC 12 Bundee Aki Substituted off 21'
LW 11 Jacob Stockdale
FH 10 Jonathan Sexton Substituted off 58'
SH 9 Conor Murray Substituted off 58'
N8 8 CJ Stander
OF 7 Josh van der Flier Sent to blood bin 14' to 22' Substituted off 74'
BF 6 Peter O'Mahony Substituted off 27'
RL 5 James Ryan
LL 4 Iain Henderson Substituted off 58'
TP 3 Tadhg Furlong Substituted off 50'
HK 2 Rory Best (c)
LP 1 Cian Healy Substituted off 50'
Replacements:
HK 16 Niall Scannell Substituted in 74'
PR 17 Dave Kilcoyne Substituted in 50'
PR 18 Andrew Porter Substituted in 50'
LK 19 Tadhg Beirne Temporarily suspended from 70' to 80' 70' to 80' Substituted in 58'
FL 20 Jack Conan Substituted in 14' Substituted off 22' Substituted in 27'
SH 21 Luke McGrath Substituted in 58'
FH 22 Jack Carty Substituted in 58'
CE 23 Chris Farrell Substituted in 21'
Coach:
New Zealand Joe Schmidt
Ireland vs Scotland 2019-09-22.svg
FB 15 Stuart Hogg
RW 14 Tommy Seymour Substituted off 58'
OC 13 Duncan Taylor Substituted off 65'
IC 12 Sam Johnson
LW 11 Sean Maitland
FH 10 Finn Russell
SH 9 Greig Laidlaw Substituted off 62'
N8 8 Ryan Wilson
OF 7 Hamish Watson Substituted off 38'
BF 6 John Barclay Substituted off 53'
RL 5 Jonny Gray Substituted off 65'
LL 4 Grant Gilchrist
TP 3 WP Nel Substituted off 53'
HK 2 Stuart McInally (c)
LP 1 Allan Dell Substituted off 62'
Replacements:
HK 16 Fraser Brown Substituted in 38'
PR 17 Gordon Reid Substituted in 62'
PR 18 Simon Berghan Substituted in 53'
LK 19 Scott Cummings Substituted in 65'
FL 20 Blade Thomson Substituted in 53'
SH 21 Ali Price Substituted in 62'
CE 22 Chris Harris Substituted in 65'
WG 23 Darcy Graham Substituted in 58'
Coach:
Scotland Gregor Townsend

Player of the Match:
CJ Stander (Ireland)

Assistant referees:
Pascal Gaüzère (France)
Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Television match official:
Graham Hughes (England)

Notes:

  • This was the first meeting between the two nations at a neutral venue.

Russia vs Samoa

24 September 2019
19:15 JST (UTC+09)
Russia  9–34  Samoa (1 BP)
Pen: Kushnarev (2/2) 19', 26'
Drop: Kushnarev (1/1) 48'
Report Try: Leiua (2) 16' m, 80' m
Amosa 45' m
Fidow (2) 49' c, 53' c
Lee-Lo 63' m
Con: Pisi (2/5) 50', 54'
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya
Attendance: 22,564
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Russia
Samoa
FB 15 Vasily Artemyev (c)
RW 14 German Davydov
OC 13 Vladimir Ostroushko
IC 12 Dmitry Gerasimov Substituted off 65'
LW 11 Kirill Golosnitsky
FH 10 Yuri Kushnarev Substituted off 55'
SH 9 Vasily Dorofeev Substituted off 55'
N8 8 Nikita Vavilin Substituted off 65'
OF 7 Tagir Gadzhiev
BF 6 Vitaly Zhivatov
RL 5 Bogdan Fedotko
LL 4 Andrei Ostrikov Substituted off 65'
TP 3 Kirill Gotovtsev Temporarily suspended from 47' to 57' 47' to 57' Substituted off 71'
HK 2 Stanislav Sel'skiy Substituted off 57'
LP 1 Valery Morozov Substituted off 59'
Replacements:
HK 16 Evgeny Matveev Substituted in 57'
PR 17 Andrey Polivalov Substituted in 59'
PR 18 Azamat Bitiev Substituted in 71'
LK 19 Andrey Garbuzov Substituted in 65'
FL 20 Anton Sychev Substituted in 21'
SH 21 Dmitry Perov Substituted in 22'
FH 22 Ramil Gaisin Substituted in 55'
WG 23 Vladislav Sozonov Substituted in 65'
Coach:
Wales Lyn Jones
Russia vs Samoa 2019-09-24.svg
FB 15 Tim Nanai-Williams Substituted off 65'
RW 14 Alapati Leiua
OC 13 Rey Lee-Lo Temporarily suspended from 29' to 39' 29' to 39'
IC 12 Henry Taefu
LW 11 Ed Fidow
FH 10 Tusi Pisi Substituted off 65'
SH 9 Dwayne Polataivao Substituted off 40'
N8 8 Afa Amosa Substituted off 33' Substituted in 40' Substituted off 46'
OF 7 TJ Ioane
BF 6 Chris Vui (c)
RL 5 Kane Le'aupepe
LL 4 Filo Paulo Substituted off 65'
TP 3 Michael Alaalatoa Substituted off 55'
HK 2 Motu Matu'u Temporarily suspended from 31' to 40' 31' to 40' Substituted off 40'
LP 1 Logovi'i Mulipola Substituted off 51'
Replacements:
HK 16 Ray Niuia Substituted in 33'
PR 17 Paul Alo-Emile Substituted in 55'
PR 18 Jordan Lay Substituted in 51'
LK 19 Senio Toleafoa Substituted in 65'
LK 20 Josh Tyrell Substituted in 46'
SH 21 Melani Matavao Substituted in 40'
FH 22 AJ Alatimu Substituted in 65'
FH 23 UJ Seuteni Substituted in 65'
Coach:
New Zealand Steve Jackson

Player of the Match:
Alapati Leiua (Samoa)

Assistant referees:
Jérôme Garcès (France)
Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Television match official:
Graham Hughes (England)

Notes: