Rugby World Cup 2011 looks set to deliver a significant boost to the ongoing development of Rugby worldwide after tournament owners Rugby World Cup Limited today announced strong initial financial results for the showcase event.
With New Zealand 2011 hailed as an exceptional event, the tournament is on track to achieve a net surplus of more than £90 million, making RWC 2011 the second-highest revenue earning event in the history of the tournament. Gross commercial revenues achieved for Rugby World Cup 2011 of £142 million were within three per cent of the total achieved for the record-breaking France 2007, reaffirming the tournament as one of the world's premier sporting events.
Previous forecasts indicated the tournament, the seventh Rugby World Cup, would achieve a surplus of £80 million, but the strength of the Rugby World Cup brand in the commercial marketplace and increased broadcast exposure, particularly in new markets, contributed to results that will ensure that the Game's governing body, the IRB Council, is able to continue to invest significantly in the development of the Game at all levels worldwide over the next four-year cycle.
The announcement is another boost for a tournament that exceeded all revenue, ticketing and visitor forecasts for the host nation and tournament organisers Rugby New Zealand 2011 Limited. This was the largest event ever hosted in the country. More than 1.35 million fans took their seats at 48 matches with revenue from ticket sales surpassing the NZ$268.5 million (£140 million) target set by RNZ 2011. This equated to more than 10 times the gross revenue generated by the next biggest sporting event hosted by New Zealand, the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour.
In addition, more than 133,000 fans travelled to New Zealand from overseas, nearly double original forecasts. The tournament is estimated to have boosted economic activity in New Zealand by more than NZ$500 million (£260 million), delivering a significant return for the host nation.
RWCL Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “These excellent results represent a strong endorsement of the Rugby World Cup brand and Rugby brands generally in the global commercial marketplace. The Game is currently in excellent health, we now have 5.5 million men, women and children playing in more countries than ever before and there is no doubt that the success of Rugby World Cup has been a major contributing factor to this growth.”
“The financial results also reflect the significant commitment and support of the tournament by our Unions and are a strong endorsement of our long-term hosting strategy. The awarding of Rugby World Cup 2015 to England and Rugby World Cup 2019 to Japan at the same time has provided certainty for our commercial partners and broadcasters and has ultimately enabled the IRB to take a 10-year strategic view to global investment to ensure that our Tier 1 base is strong while maintaining our investment in Tier 2 and 3 and developing Rugby markets.”
“This is particularly encouraging given that Rugby World Cup 2007 was hosted at the height of the global economic boom, while Rugby World Cup 2011 was hosted amidst an uncertain economic climate in a smaller domestic marketplace and in a non-European time zone.”
Rugby World Cup is the financial driver of the global Game and over the 2009-2012 period the IRB is investing £150 million across all 117 Member Unions at all levels of the Game. RWC 2011 will provide the platform for unprecedented investment in Union Grants, tournaments, strategic investments, research and development and player welfare programmes during the next four-year Rugby World Cup cycle.
Highlights include a Tier 2 competitions fund to deliver a full schedule of June tournaments and November Tests and a US$10 million (£6.3 million) funding package to support the transition programme to substantially assist with Argentina’s entry into the Rugby Championship up to 2015.
An independent study commissioned by MasterCard in 2011 emphasises the commercial success of Rugby World Cup and the IRB's investment strategies made possible by the commercial success of the tournament as key drivers behind an 18 per cent increase in global participation since France 2007 with significant growth experienced in Asia, North America and Africa.
Lapasset added: “Ninety-two per cent of the IRB's total revenues come from the commercial strength of Rugby World Cup and this announcement is good news for both the event and for the global Game. It also underscores the strength of the partnership by RWCL, RNZ 2011, the NZRU, the New Zealand Government and other key stakeholders in hosting what was a wonderful and extremely successful event.”
“In addition to significant development and Union grant investment, Rugby World Cup revenues continue to drive the development of the Game across men's and women's Fifteens and Sevens at all levels, international and regional tournaments and also player welfare initiatives and research.”
Preparation and planning for England's hosting of Rugby World Cup 2015 is well underway and ahead of schedule with a number of key decisions to be made during 2012. The tournament dates, venues and ticketing strategy details will all be announced during a year that will culminate with the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw. The qualification process for England 2015 kicks off on Saturday when Mexico plays host to Jamaica in the first of 184 matches involving 80 Unions.
The full IRB group results for 2011 will be announced in May following the completion of the reporting process to the IRB Council.