New report confirms record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 economic impact

RWC 2015 was the most economically-successful Rugby World Cup ever, with nearly £2.3 billion generated in economic output according to a report published by EY.
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 set new attendance, viewership and competition records
  • £2.3 billion economic output generated, £1.1 billion directly added to the UK GDP
  • 406,000 international visitors stayed an average of 14 days each in the UK, providing tourism and economic benefits to the host nation
  • Strong regional impact at the heart of nationwide benefits

Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most economically-successful Rugby World Cup ever, with nearly £2.3 billion generated in economic output according to The economic impact of Rugby World Cup 2015 report published by EY.
The 48-day global celebration of rugby, hosted in England and Cardiff between 18 September and 31 October, 2015, was heralded as the biggest and best to date, breaking records in every major metric on and off the field as the compelling action reached, engaged and inspired new fans.
England 2015 was the most competitive, best attended, most viewed, most socially engaged and most commercially successful of the eight tournaments to date and the biggest sporting event of 2015, reinforcing the tournament as one of the world's most prestigious sports events.
The new report outlines how Rugby World Cup 2015 generated £2.3 billion in output, added £1.1 billion to the UK GDP, attracted 406,000 international visitors from 151 nations and supported 34,000 jobs or volunteer roles the length and breadth of the host nation.
With 2.47 million ticket sales, RWC 2015 was the fifth largest single-sport event ever held. In addition, 98 per cent of available tickets were sold and there were packed crowds at all of the host cities, regardless of stadium size or fixture. As well as huge attendances in the traditional rugby heartlands of the Midlands and south of England, six matches were held in the north of England (Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester), where 291,000 tickets were sold.  

  • 44-day global shop window for the UK and rugby
  • 80 per cent of international visitors said they would return to the UK
  • 80 per cent of fans said they had an exceptional experience
  • £2,400 average spend in the UK per international visitor
  • 34,000 jobs created or supported
  • £1 million raised for Tackle Hunger (UN World Food Programme, official humanitarian partner of World Rugby)
  • £958 million spent in UK by international visitors
  • £2.7 billion attributed to inward UK investment directly related to RWC 2015
  • UK retail sales (Office of National Statistics): 1.8 per cent (September 2014 / September 2015) again in part attributed to increased leisure spending around RWC 2015


World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Rugby World Cup 2015 was a very special and record-breaking global celebration of rugby and its character-building values and widely regarded as the biggest and best Rugby World Cup to date.

Incoming World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont added: "This new report reflects Rugby World Cup's status as one of the best-loved and most prestigious major sports events, while highlighting the significant social and economic benefits that make the tournament such an attractive low-investment, high-return hosting proposition for governments and unions alike.”

RFU CEO Ian Ritchie commented: "We wanted Rugby World Cup 2015 to be a celebration of rugby, which inspired the country, and the world, to play and support the game. The team at England Rugby 2015 and the RFU are proud of the tournament we organised and hosted, which will deliver valuable financial benefits not just for the game of rugby, but for the wider national economy."

International visitors bring significant benefits to host cities

International tourists travelled far and wide across England and Wales, bringing significant benefits to the host cities and beyond. On average, the 406,000 international visitors for RWC 2015 each stayed for 14 days in the UK, spending a total of £958 million, at an average of £2,400 per person. This breaks down to £270 million on accommodation, £233 million on leisure activities, £188 million on food and drink, £156 million on travel and £111 million on retail.

EY Executive Director Mike Grice said: "EY is proud to be the official business advisor of Rugby World Cup 2015, and our report demonstrates the truly national impact of RWC 2015. There were a large number of international visitors to host cities outside London, including Birmingham, Brighton and Manchester. Many visitors extended their stays over several days or even weeks, to watch several matches in a variety of different venues. Host cities also gained exposure to international markets, raised their international profiles and encouraged future tourism.”

The 15 fanzones around the country were also a big hit with both international and domestic fans. They not only created an incredible atmosphere, but provided a key focal point for the tournament in each city. More than one million people attended a fanzone, including 265,000 international visitors, who spent an average of £40 in the fanzones contributing a total of £10 million to local economies.

The regional impact of RWC 2015

RWC 2015 generated a total of £980 million for the local economies of the 11 host cities, London, unsurprisingly, leading the way. As home to Twickenham, which hosted 10 RWC matches, including the final, Richmond benefitted from the largest impact of all the London boroughs, with fans coming to games and spending money in the fanzones. There was a total output of £284.1 million in Richmond, which generated a £136 million contribution to the local economy and supported 2,500 jobs.

RWC 2015 also had a big impact on the smaller host cities around the country. For example, in Gloucester and Exeter total output reached £24 million and £14 million, generating a contribution of £12 million and £7 million to the local economies and supporting 400 and 200 jobs, respectively.

A lasting legacy

The RWC 2015 legacy planning started many years before the tournament began. The Rugby Football Union made major investments to increase player numbers and improve the general rugby environment.  As a result, more rugby is now played in schools, grassroots facilities have been developed and there are more coaches and volunteers taking part. Additionally, the IMPACT Beyond and Unity projects involved one million players across 17 European nations.