RWC Hosting Boosts Participation in New Zealand

Dublin – Ireland, Sept 9, 2012: Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) has welcomed the news that Rugby participation and interest has increased in New Zealand following the country’s hosting of Rugby World Cup 2011, capping a tournament that has exceeded all expectations.

Official figures released by the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) one year on from the opening match show almost 150,000 players turned out for their club or school during 2012. That represents a rise of three per cent (4,289) on 2011. Over the last four years, total player numbers have increased seven per cent from 140,279 in 2008.

The news further underlined the success of the seventh Rugby World Cup which delivered above forecasted visitor numbers (133,000), ticket sales (1.35 million), television coverage (207 territories), economic impact (NZ$750 estimated) and financial injection for the development of Rugby worldwide (GBP 90 million), while the action on the field produced the most competitive tournament to date.

RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the news, saying that the result underscores the success of an event that delivered significant economic, trade and sporting returns for New Zealand, demonstrating the country’s capacity to host major events and the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand.

“This announcement, one year on from Rugby World Cup 2011, further endorses the tremendous success of Rugby World Cup 2011 and the shared objective of all stakeholders to deliver an outstanding event that would generate multiple benefits for the host nation and Rugby worldwide. Rugby World Cup 2011 certainly showcased the country and showcased Rugby.”

“This pleasing uplift in participation within a Rugby saturated market reflects the strong programme implemented by the NZRU to maximise the benefits of hosting. It also underscored the role of the tournament as a catalyst to inspire the next generation of players and fans.”

NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said the strong player numbers was in addition to increased attendance and viewership of Rugby this year and was testament to the enduring legacy of RWC 2011.

“One year ago today we kicked off a wonderful six week celebration of rugby and our country. Rugby World Cup 2011 was an overwhelming success as New Zealanders filled stadia, enjoyed fanzones and welcomed our visitors. The tournament exceeded all revenue and ticket targets.”

“We always believed that one of the benefits of hosting Rugby World Cup would be increased support for the Game. This year we have seen a 40 per cent jump in crowds at Investec Super Rugby matches and a 50 per cent surge in fans watching live on SKY.”

“Now we are seeing the success of the tournament flowing through to increased numbers taking to the field. What’s really thrilling is the near six per cent increase in numbers of kids aged under 12 taking up the Game. Overall numbers for this age group are up 14 per cent in the last four years and that will provide a great platform to encourage young people and teenagers to remain playing Rugby for years to come.”

“Rugby also can’t thrive without the support of coaches, referees and other volunteers so it’s pleasing to see a big lift in those numbers as well.”

Coach, referee and volunteer numbers increased 7 per cent, 5 per cent and 9 per cent respectively and Tew said it was also pleasing to note that 15,182 women registered to play Rugby in 2012, up slightly on 2011.

He said the overall numbers augured well for the future and underlined the success of the NZRU’s RWC 2011 Legacy Programme which aimed to build a strong platform for the Game in the years ahead.

“Our nationwide road trip to share the Webb Ellis Cup with the Stadium of Four Million, improved fan experiences around Tests, a successful Investec Super Rugby competition and winning All Blacks have all contributed to an incredible year for rugby since RWC 2011 kicked off.”

NZRU General Manager of Provincial Union and Community Rugby Brent Anderson said participation was the highest it had been since official numbers were first collated in 2000.

“At a time when Rugby is competing against a range of other sports and activities, these results are really encouraging.”

Rugby World Cup 2011 – The Facts

• 133,000 fans visited from over 100 countries

• 1.35 million fans attended 48 matches

• Biggest ticketing event ever in NZ – 11 times the 2005 British & Irish Lions Tour

• Venues were at 87 per cent capacity on average

• Estimated NZ$750 economic impact

• Tournament deficit NZ$31.3 million – 20 per cent better than forecast

• Global cumulative television audience of 3.9 billion

• Broadcast in 207 territories

• Screened live for the first time in USA

• 98 per cent market share in New Zealand for RWC 2011 Final

• All-time record pay TV audience in Australia

• 73 per cent of French population watched at least 15 minutes. —- IRB

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