Record-breaking Americas Rugby Championship underscores continental ambition

A scintillating Americas Rugby Championship provided a further boost to the expansion of the sport in the Americas, home to one of the world’s fastest-growing fanbases.
  • Competition surpassed eight million social and digital media engagements on official channels
  • Viral video of Brazilian scrum seen worldwide by more than one million fans
  • Argentina XV’s 5-0 win record earned the maximum 25 points for the first time in the tournament’s history
  • Brazil reached highest World Rugby Ranking of 24 after a successful ARC
  • Webb Ellis Cup visiting USA, Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina as part of Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour 2019
  • Americas Rugby Championship supported by World Rugby funding as part of global growth strategy

A scintillating Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) provided a further boost to the expansion of the sport in the Americas, home to one of the world’s fastest-growing fanbases.

The continental tournament, which is supported by World Rugby funding as part of its global growth strategy, was won by Argentina XV. The five-round competition played across 10 venues, set new fan-engagement and attendance records, capturing the imagination of a region that has seen the number of fans increase by more than seven per cent since 2017 to a staggering 198.2 million (above the worldwide average increase of one per cent).

The six participating teams showcased their talent while four of them - Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and USA - also used this year’s tournament as key preparation for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

 VIEW VIDEO OF AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP HIGHLIGHTS >>

With the Webb Ellis Cup enjoying a high profile visit to the USA last week before arriving in Canada this week ahead of scheduled stops in Brazil, Chile and Argentina in May and June as part of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour, there is a growing sense of anticipation and excitement building for rugby across the Americas, which was reflected in the increasing level of interest in the ARC.

Internet sensation

The 2019 ARC has been the best-connected to date, with more than eight million interactions and engagements globally on official platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Meanwhile, broadcast coverage reached all of the Americas with World Rugby’s platforms also showcasing the ARC via live streaming for the rest of the world to enjoy the action.

The Brazilian scrum became a massive internet sensation, generating more than a million hits on World Rugby’s channels and attracting the attention of media outlets and commentators across the globe.

The evolution of the Americas Rugby Championship and its digital media audience has ensured more fans, particularly from younger age groups, have been attracted to rugby, building on the huge potential for participation and fan growth across the continent.

The work done by the six participating unions focused on building capacity at every level of the game with an eye towards the future in terms of increasing the commercial, social, playing, officiating, and administrative aspects of the international game, which were all part of an over-arching focus on game development within this year’s Americas Rugby Championship.

Maximum returns

On the playing side, Argentina XV proved to be the strongest team, scoring 38 tries and only conceding six in 400 minutes of international rugby. They beat two-time defending champions USA 45-14 in the second round and went on to score a total of 258 points with 60 against. In getting a bonus point in every round, they became the first team to reach 25 points in the Americas Rugby Championship.

In second place were Uruguay, whose only defeat was to Argentina XV. Up until the final round, the second, third, fourth and fifth positions were under dispute with the final rankings decided with the last two games, generating excitement and anticipation throughout the five rounds. Brazil reached their highest World Rugby Ranking after a successful ARC saw them move up to number 24.

Dan Payne, CEO Rugby Americas and Tournament Director for the Americas Rugby Championship, said: “The outcome of the tournament has been extremely successful on many aspects.  We placed a large amount of our attention on the digital media plan and we’re happy with the metrics.

“There’s always more work to be done as we leverage competitions to grow the game at all levels within the region. We’re pleased with where we’re at, while always keeping an eye towards the future and the many new developments our countries will experience surrounding the international game in the years to come.

“Our aim is to create sustainable competitions that allow participating unions the opportunity to grow the game. With that in mind, we’ve witnessed clear growth within each area of focus across this year’s tournament.

“We congratulate Argentina XV as the champions while applauding each team and union for the overall progress on and off the field.

“Delivering on the vision and expectations of Rugby Americas President, Agustín Pichot, has pushed everyone to achieve more and to maximise the opportunities for growth that come with elite competition.”

Photo: Andrea Romero