Japan 2019 was the most economically successful Rugby World Cup ever, with nearly £4.3 billion generated in economic output according to The economic impact of Rugby World Cup 2019 report published by EY.
Rugby World Cup 2019 has been heralded as the best to date, delivering a unique experience for visiting fans, showcasing Japan’s renowned culture and spirit of Omotenashi and significantly boosting national pride. Delivering unforgettable moments on and off the field, the tournament has been reinforced as one of the world’s most prestigious and exciting sports events.
The 44-day global celebration of rugby, hosted across 12 cities the length and breadth of Japan, captured the imagination of a nation and fans around the world. It was the most competitive, best attended, most viewed, most socially engaged and most commercially successful of the nine men’s tournaments to date and the biggest sporting event of 2019.
Rugby World Cup 2019 was also one of the most economically successful events in Japanese sporting history, underscoring the nationwide approach to host Asia’s first tournament.
The EY report, launched during a special webinar event in Tokyo today, outlines how Rugby World Cup 2019 generated £4.3 billion in output and added £2.3 billion to Japan’s GDP. It attracted 242,000 international fans from 178 nations, who stayed an average of 17 days, visiting five cities on average. More than 60 per cent of fans were visiting the country for the first time, while their daily spend was 4.6 times higher than that spent by the average visitor to Japan in 2018.
Aside from a record economic impact footprint that reached from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the south, the tournament also created or sustained 46,000 jobs and 13,000 volunteer roles, many of whom will be supporting Tokyo 2020.
The host’s ticketing strategy also proved successful with a total of 1.83 million tickets sold. The 99 per cent attendance versus capacity rate across the 45 matches is the most successful in Rugby World Cup history and among the most successful major sports events of all time. It was the biggest single-sport event ever held in Japan. In addition, a record 1.13 million fans attended one or more of the 16 official fanzones despite two typhoons during the event.
Stadia packed with Japanese fans (more than 50 per cent attending a rugby match for the first time) combined with joyous overseas fans created a special atmosphere, The performance of Japan’s national team – the Brave Blossoms – in reaching the quarter-finals for the first time played a leading role in boosting national pride with 90 per cent of people in Japan believing that hosting captured the nation’s imagination, boosting pride, excitement and engagement.
A special, unforgettable, record-breaking tournament
- Asia and Japan’s first Rugby World Cup
- Unprecedented 44-day global shop window for Japan and rugby
- Record nationwide economic impact beyond Tokyo
- 242,000 international visitors staying average of 17 days v 14 days for RWC 2015
- 60 per cent of fans visiting Japan for the first time
- 90 per cent of fans said they would return to Japan
- 80 per cent of fans said they had an exceptional experience
- £4.3 billion total economic impact/£2.3 billion GDP increase
- £2.3 billion spent in Japan by international visitors
- £286 average spend per international visitor per night, almost double England 2015 (£4,574 total average v £2,400)
- RWC 2019 visiting fans spent 4.6 times more than the average visitor to Japan in 2018
- 46,340 jobs created or supported for the tournament
- RWC 2019 visitors stayed 17 days, compared to 14 days average at RWC 2015
- £2 million pledged for the Childfund Pass It Back programme, a partnership between Childfund, World Rugby, Asia Rugby and the JRFU
- 2.25 million people introduced to rugby in Asia via the Impact Beyond programme (769,000 children involved in tag rugby in elementary schools in Japan)
- Significant infrastructure legacy for rugby and community sport, including the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium
A separate Nielsen Sports DNA report conducted immediately after the tournament also demonstrates the significant pride and happiness benefits of hosting to the Japanese people:
- 78 per cent of the general public thought that Rugby World Cup hosting in a so-called “non-traditional” rugby market was positive for the future of the sport
- 46 per cent of the general public thought Rugby World Cup was the most exciting sporting event of 2019 (70 per cent in Japan), compared to 25 per cent who disagreed, demonstrating the value of hosting to international marketing and national pride
- The level of Rugby World Cup interest almost doubled from 26 per cent in 2018 to 44 per cent in 2019, representing more than 50 million people
- Nine out of 10 people in Japan believed that Rugby World Cup hosting captured the imagination, boosting national pride, excitement and engagement
- Nine out of 10 people in Japan got behind the national team on their run to the quarter-finals, reflecting a 33 per cent increase in ‘niwaka fans’ or new fans during the tournament
- 83 per cent of people in Japan believe that hosting Rugby World Cup generated a positive legacy for rugby, delivering future major rugby event hosting opportunities for Japan
- 50 per cent of those in Japan who followed Rugby World Cup had become interested in the sport in the last year, highlighting the significant legacy opportunity for host nations
- 54 per cent of those in Japan who followed the tournament were doing so for the first time
- 74 per cent of Japanese who were aware of Rugby World Cup believe that the tournament will encourage more children to play the sport
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The outcomes of this comprehensive EY report reaffirm Japan 2019’s status as one of the great Rugby World Cups on and off the field. It is also good news for France 2023 and interested nations and unions wishing to host in the future.
“It reflects Rugby World Cup’s status as one of the best-loved and most prestigious major sports events to host, while highlighting the significant social and economic benefits that make the tournament such an attractive low-risk, high-return on investment hosting proposition for governments and unions alike.”
With 769,000 children in Japan introduced to tag rugby in school because of the tournament and a strong performance by the national team, Japan Rugby Football Union President Shigetaka Mori says that Rugby World Cup 2019 will continue to be a catalyst for rugby participation, popularity and profile in Japan.
“I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to everyone involved in the success of Rugby World Cup 2019”, he said.
“I am forever grateful that Rugby World Cup was held in Japan, resulting in the increasing popularity of the game and more people than ever becoming familiar with the beauty of our beloved sport. With enthusiastic cheers from all over Japan, the Japan national team made history by powering their way to the quarter-finals, the highest Rugby World Cup finish they have ever achieved.
“We are determined to make sure that the valuable legacy left by this immeasurably successful tournament will live on, and we will continue to strive to make rugby a well-loved national sport in our country. If the opportunity arose again, we would be eager to demonstrate our intention to bid for future Rugby World Cups and make the Japan national team the world’s best team.”
Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said he was proud of how Japan embraced the tournament, delivered the spectacle and welcomed international visitors: “Rugby World Cup 2019 was an unforgettable event which will be fondly remembered by everyone for years to come.
“The excitement around the stadiums and official fanzones in each host city was incredible, and what we achieved was in no small part thanks to all 19 local governments of the 12 match venues that embodied the sense of responsibility and pride that was crucial to this tournament’s success.
“Once again, I would like to extend my respect and gratitude to all those involved who contributed to the success of Rugby World Cup 2019, including the 13,000 volunteers whose efforts will never be forgotten.
“We hope that the hosting of this tournament will help to enrich sports culture in Japan and will lead to the further global development of rugby starting from the community level.”