Massive impact of RWC 2019 will be an enduring legacy in Asia

By James Fitzgerald, Dublin, May 21, 2017: Massive impact RWC 2019, Inspiring sustainable rugby growth and attracting one million new participants in Asia is the aim of the Impact Beyond 2019 programme, which was launched today.

Announced at the Asia Rugby General Assembly in Mongolia, Impact Beyond 2019 is a partnership between World Rugby, Asia Rugby and the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) and is the legacy programme for Rugby World Cup 2019, Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.

Asia is already at the heart of the ongoing global rugby growth success story with overall playing numbers across the entire continent rising from 356,000 when the Rugby World Cup 2019 rights were awarded in 2009 to 562,000 in 2016, while a further 610,000 boys and girls participated in Get Into Rugby activities in Asia in 2016.

The Impact Beyond 2019 programme aims to capitalize on the success and harness the potential of the world’s most populous continent by focusing on four key pillars to enable unions to drive participation growth while growing sustainable business models for the sport:

Target: 200,000 active participants at all levels in Japan

Target: One million new players in Asia with a total of two million by 2020

Target: Reaching 40 million viewers on all platforms by making rugby more widely available

Target: Maximise the impact of the RWC 2019 to grow the game globally to 11 million players by 2020


World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby mass-participation programme, which has proven successful in reaching, inspiring and retaining nearly two million participants worldwide in 2016, will again be at the heart of the participation targets, providing an entry point for boys and girls. Other projects included in the Impact Beyond programme include Asia One Million, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA)-JRFU Scrum project, JENESYS exchange programme, Sport For Tomorrow and Child Fund Pass It Back.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby’s mission is to grow rugby globally and our strategic ambition is to attract, inspire and retain 11 million players by 2020 through a range of programmes run in partnership with our regions and unions. RWC 2019 offers a unique opportunity to do that in Asia.

“A truly sustainable legacy should be a central thought, not an afterthought when it comes to major event planning and the Impact Beyond 2019 programme sets out exciting participation, coaching, administrative and fan-engagement targets for the world’s most populous region by the time it hosts its first Rugby World Cup in 2019. It also provides the roadmap and resources to make those targets achievable.

“Impact Beyond has been at the very heart of that growth strategy, with tangible successes at Rugby World Cup 2015 and Rio 2016 and through this project, World Rugby is committed to providing unions with a solid foundation for sustainable growth at all levels of the game through funding, development and high performance support.”

Asia Rugby President Koji Tokumasu added: “It’s with immense excitement and pride that we launch this strategy for Impact Beyond RWC 2019 incorporating a vast number of projects to grow the game in Japan and across our continent over the next four years and beyond.

“Asia Rugby has grown from our eight founding unions in 1968 to today’s 30 member unions across our five Olympic sub-regions and I know I speak for all who have gone before me that Rugby World Cup being awarded to our region and this Impact Beyond strategy reflects everyone’s collective efforts over so many years to put Asia on the global rugby map and grow the game to our current levels and beyond.

“I look forward to working with our member unions and partners to deliver these exciting projects as we move towards 2019, Tokyo 2020 and further into the future.”

President of Japan Rugby 2019 Tadashi Okamura said: “Japan Rugby 2019’s mission is to contribute to a better society by playing an active part in the world. In 2019, Japan will become the first Asian nation to host Rugby World Cup. The success of RWC 2019 is the biggest challenge in the history of Japan rugby.

“Japan rugby will continue to strive to become stronger and to play a vital role for all people and society, and leave an impact beyond rugby, beyond Japan and beyond 2019.”

Chairman of Japan Rugby Football Union Noriyuki Sakamoto said: “Collaborating with World Rugby and Asia Rugby, JRFU will cooperate with the RWC 2019 organising committee and the local government of RWC host cities and the team camps to execute our new strategic plans and build the legacy of the game.

“In addition, Asian Scrum Project, which was founded in 2011 to support rugby development within Asia, will expand the partnership and work closely with government projects such as Sport For Tomorrow, JICA volunteer programme and JENESYS programme. With the support of relevant ministries and agencies, JRFU will strive to go forward with Impact Beyond 2019.”

Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “ChildFund is very pleased to be working in partnership with World Rugby to help grow the game in Asia and achieve important social outcomes for poor communities. It is an exciting time in the Asia region in the lead up to Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.

“ChildFund Pass It Back is an innovative sport for development programme that is being enthusiastically taken up by children and youth from disadvantaged communities across the region, giving them the chance to learn the skills of rugby, take part in organised sport – often for the first time – while undertaking a valuable life-skills curriculum.

“As the social development component of Impact Beyond 2019, ChildFund Pass It Back is creating a new generation of rugby players in Asia and helping young people to overcome challenges, inspire change and ‘pass it back’ to their communities.”

Hugely successful at major events, including Rugby World Cup 2015 and Rio 2016, Impact Beyond combines sporting and business strategies to provide unions with the best-possible platform to maximise the multiple benefits of hosting what is rugby’s showcase event and one of the world’s biggest sports events.

The programme was at the heart of a very special and record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 which saw 17 Rugby Europe member unions strategically partner with RFU counties to share knowledge and create stronger foundations for community level participation. —- WR

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