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Volume 7 No. 149
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Rugby World Cup Sets Records, Becomes Third-Largest Global Sports Event

The Rugby World Cup has become the third-largest global sports event after the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics, according to the NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW. As the popularity of the event grows, "it is becoming a huge business machine, with record audience sizes and revenues." England is hosting the RWC for the first time in 24 years. The event has set a number of records, such as highest gate receipts of $322M and highest broadcasting rights fees of 27.2B yen ($230M). World Rugby Head of RWC Alan Gilpin said that tournament revenue was estimated in June to grow by 70% from the one held in France in '07, to around 90B yen ($750M). The "expected increase of revenue is also shown by higher interest in the game around the world." According to the survey conducted by global sports research company Repucom prior to the '15 tournament, the interest levels of fans in the event in relatively new rugby nations were higher than before the '11 tournament, held in New Zealand. Nations that are currently outside of World Rugby's top 10 rankings are described as new. Explosive growth "has also brought problems." One is that distributing revenue from RWC tournaments between the host country and World Rugby "is complicated." Under the current scheme, host countries "are entitled only to gate money." Unlike host countries of the Olympic Games, those holding the Rugby World Cup "do not get a share of other revenue such as sponsorship." There is "further bad news for host nations:" they have to pay tournament fees to World Rugby. The institution "largely relies on the revenue from the World Cups for income." In the case of the current RWC, England and Wales will pay an estimated 10.1B yen ($80M). Japan will pay 17.4B yen ($150M) for hosting the event in '19. In a bid to expand its business opportunities, World Rugby is "further seeking new frontier markets." Gilpin: "We are mulling a new income distribution model [under which other revenues such as sponsorship are shared by host countries, too] like that being run by the International Olympic Committee" (NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, 9/30).