World Rugby lauds economic success of Japan World Cup

FILE PHTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup - Final - England v South Africa - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - November 2, 2019. England head coach Eddie Jones receives his runners up medal off World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont after the match. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Rugby World Cup held in Japan last year was the most economically successful World Cup to date, attracting some 242,000 international visitors and adding £2.3 billion ($2.9 billion) to the country’s GDP, a report said on Wednesday.

It was also “the biggest single-sport event ever held in Japan,” said the report, which was commissioned by the sports governing body World Rugby and conducted by consulting firm EY.

The tournament achieved a ticket sell-out rate of 99%, more than any previous Rugby World Cup, while the matches were watched by a cumulative worldwide television audience of 857.28 million compared to 678.53 million for the 2015 World Cup in England.

“It was one of the great, if not the greatest of Rugby World Cups,” World Cup chief Alan Gilpin told Reuters on Wednesday.

The 242,000 international fans who came to Japan stayed an average of 17 days and spent £286 per night. That compares with compared to 14 days for England 2015 and was almost double the amount of spending, the report said.

“Japan 2019 was a success on every metric,” Gilpin added, noting that the decision to hold the first Rugby World Cup outside the sport’s traditional heartlands had been vindicated.

As the last major sporting tournament to take place before the coronavirus pandemic shut down many events, World Rugby was also fortunate it could fall back on the financial gains from the tournament.

“The revenues from Japan and England before it have meant that we have been in a position to financially support our unions through the global pandemic,” said Gilpin.

France will hold the next World Cup in 2023.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Edwina Gibbs