New Zealand Rugby Union's All Black Team Raises Rugby's Profile In Asia
While Japan got its moment in the rugby spotlight with its test in Tokyo against the All Blacks, the match "also had benefits for the New Zealand Rugby Union as it promoted its most famous brand in Asia," according to Emma Stoney of the N.Y. TIMES. The fact that New Zealand "was playing its first official test in Japan was significant, particularly as the Japanese will be host to the World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics the following year, when rugby sevens will be on the docket." The Int'l Rugby Board "has earmarked Asia as a key region in its quest to raise the profile of rugby globally and to strengthen it." The Asian sports market "over all offers huge potential growth commercially for the sport, and this trip to Japan offered a chance for the N.Z.R.U. to develop commercial as well as rugby relationships." NZRU CEO Steve Tew said, "There’s no doubt that Asia is going to be important. Taking the All Blacks there, it's a dual opportunity to really promote the game, but we were also looking for development opportunities, and this is obviously a first step." Rugby officials "would like to expand Japan’s role in other areas, and that could include increased participation in the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest domestic competition." The organizers of Super Rugby "are exploring their options." Expansion into Asia, particularly Japan, "is one of the options being considered, and Tew had discussions with the Japanese about the possibilities while in Tokyo." SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said, "Obviously the commercial aspect of those markets is attractive. Asia and Japan are big sports markets in a general sense, and rugby is gaining a stronger foothold in those areas" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/3).