Organisers of the 2019 Rugby World Cup have called on fans to move as quickly as possible to secure the remaining tickets for this year’s tournament in Japan, pointing to “huge demand” as the next stage of the process opens today (Tuesday).

Following record demand across the 2018 ticket ballot phases, first-come-first-served ticket sales are now set to begin. A two-stage process in the January sales window is designed to give priority to applicants who were unsuccessful in the 2018 ballots.

Exclusive sales for unsuccessful ballot applicants began at 20:19 Japan Standard Time (JST) today and will run through to 23:59 JST on Thursday. The second stage will see general sales commence at 10:00 JST on Saturday, with this phase running through to 23:59 on March 31.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than one million tickets of the 1.8 million available have been sold as organisers seek a complete sell-out. World Rugby said ticket availability across the tournament remains limited following record sales throughout the 2018 ballots.

While there is still reasonable availability for certain pool matches, tickets for the most popular matches remain extremely limited. These include all knockout stage matches and pool matches featuring the host nation, defending champions New Zealand, as well as Ireland and England.

Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO, Akira Shimazu, said: “With less than 250 days to go before Asia’s first Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, it’s incredibly exciting to see the phenomenal response from rugby fans here in Japan and from across the world. The huge demand for tickets points to Rugby World Cup 2019 being a truly special tournament.

“For anybody considering buying tickets for matches that still have availability I suggest you move as quickly as possible when first-come-first-served sales begin. The huge demand from domestic rugby fans unable to secure tickets for Japan matches will spread quickly to the tournament’s remaining matches. There are still some great tickets available and we want to ensure that we welcome as many foreign fans as possible for this once-in-a-lifetime tournament.”

Limited quantities of World Cup tickets will be periodically made available for sale across 2019 as new ticket inventory becomes available.

These tickets will be a mixture of seats released from ongoing venue planning and configuration, handbacks from the tournament’s commercial programme and unions, and tickets that have been registered for official resale by fans who can no longer attend matches.

The ticketing process is running as Japan’s parliament last month rubber-stamped a bill that will ban ticket scalping as the country prepares for two years of major sporting events in the shape of the World Cup and the 2020 summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Another option for fans looking to secure match tickets is through the Rugby World Cup 2019 Official Supporter Tour and Hospitality programmes. World Rugby said ticket-inclusive travel packages provided through official travel agents are proving extremely popular, but tickets for some of the most popular matches are still available.

The prestigious Webb Ellis Suite and private hospitality suites are already sold out, however some match-day hospitality options are still available. World Rugby added that with such exceptional demand for tickets, fans are being urged to buy exclusively from official channels to avoid being let down.