The 2019 Rugby World Cup is heading towards a complete sell-out after the general public ticket sales phase opened at the weekend, with local organisers in Japan claiming they are far in advance of England’s staging of the previous tournament in 2015.

Tickets were made available to the general public on Saturday after organisers last week 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 initial next stage of the process commenced on January 15.

Following record demand across the 2018 ticket ballot phases, first-come-first-served ticket sales began last Tuesday with World Rugby reporting more than 300,000 fans sought to secure tickets during last week’s exclusive sales period for those who had previously applied for tickets in the ballot phases but failed to secure them. 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) on January 15 and ran through to 23:59 JST on Thursday. The second stage saw general sales commence at 10:00 JST on Saturday, with this phase running through to 23:59 on March 31, or until the event sells out.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that more than one million tickets of the 1.8 million available had been sold as organisers seek a complete sell-out. World Rugby reported that only around 200,000 tickets remained as the final phase commenced on Saturday.

As the process opened, Japanese news agency Kyodo said that remaining tickets for the host nation’s pool matches sold out almost immediately. Tickets for all knockout-stage games also sold out on Saturday, along with those for the Australia vs Wales and England vs Argentina pool matches.

According to the organisers, the two games at Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, the city devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, also sold out along with three games at Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, in the Tokyo area.

“In terms of applications and sales, we are far in advance of even Rugby World Cup 2015,” a source with the organisers told Kyodo.

However, the news agency noted that the sales process has not been without its problems, with long waiting times and payments not being accepted from certain foreign banks and credit cards among the complaints.

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Image: World Rugby