With six months to go until Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off, Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset is confident that the eighth edition of the sport’s showcase event will be a very special and record-breaking celebration of rugby and the host nation.
Global anticipation and excitement continues to grow ahead of an event that will raise the bar on and off the field of play as the world's top teams compete for the coveted Webb Ellis Cup and inspire new participants and fans worldwide.
With preparations on track and strong demand for ticket applications through the public process, England 2015 is set to be the most viewed, best-attended and most-engaged Rugby World Cup ever, while a record commercial programme will provide the financial platform for unprecedented investment in rugby worldwide.
Lapasset said: "With six months to go, Rugby World Cup 2015 is in record-breaking shape and we are confident of a very special event that will capture the imagination on and off the field.
"Even before England and Fiji meet in the opening match on 18 September, England 2015 will have raised the bar on several fronts, reflecting a sport that continues to grow at record pace around the world and the exceptional standard of organisation and delivery across all partners.
"The event has captured the imagination like no other and demand for tickets has been unprecedented. From public sales to the official travel and hospitality programmes, we are anticipating record numbers as fans from around the world join those across the UK in celebrating rugby and friendship.
"Across 44 days and 48 matches the Rugby World Cup 2015 story will be told in more nations than ever before: audiences in 207 territories will be inspired by new broadcast, social and digital innovations, while a record family of commercial partners will also project rugby to new audiences.
"All of this is great news for rugby worldwide as Rugby World Cup is the financial driving force behind the growth of the sport, underwriting £330 million of investment in rugby by 2016."
In addition to strong demand for tickets via the public application process (buy official though tickets.rugbyworldcup.com), more than 170,000 tickets have been booked by rugby fans from 60 nations through Official Travel Agents – surpassing the total sold for New Zealand 2011 by 50 per cent, while sales are on track to topple the France 2007 total of 184,000.
The tournament in numbers
- Excitement building throughout host cities, venues and across the global rugby family
- Hospitality package sales for RWC 2015 have exceeded total volume sold for RWC 2011
- Six official Worldwide Partners with programme locked down in record time and with record value
- 13 iconic match venues
- 20 participating teams
- 41 team bases across England and Wales providing world-class training facilities for participating teams
- 83 nations have participated in the largest Rugby World Cup qualification programme
- 205+ broadcast territories to screen more than 20,000 hours of coverage
- 620 players
- 6,000 volunteers in ‘The Pack’
- 50,000 official hospitality covers sold (35,000 in 2011)
- 170,000 tickets sold through official supporter tour programme, surpassing the New Zealand 2011 total by 50 per cent
- 500,000 overseas fans anticipated to visit England and Wales during the six-week, 48-match festival
- 2.3 million tickets available
- £330 million being invested by World Rugby in development of global rugby between 2009 and 2016 owing to commercial success of RWC
- Up to £1 billion of additive value into the UK economy
The RFU’s legacy programme will maximise the hosting opportunity. It is investing £10 million into more than 500 community clubs and a further £1 million has gone into coaching and refereeing courses with 69,000 people having attended those courses since March 2012. The RFU is also aiming to attract 5,000 volunteers in England, while partnering with World Rugby and Rugby Europe to target one million new participants across Europe.
Rugby will not be the only beneficiary. A recent economic impact study by tournament supplier EY reveals that Rugby World Cup 2015 is set to deliver nearly £1 billion of additive value into the UK economy underscoring the value of major events to host nations.
As tournament preparations enter the readiness phase, World Rugby has also praised the organising body, England Rugby 2015, and the RFU for their excellent collaboration.
Lapasset added: "A tournament of this scale and stature cannot be delivered without a shared vision and strong partnership and I would like to thank England Rugby 2015 and the RFU for their continued focus on ensuring a superb event on and off the field.
"With final preparations well underway to welcome the world's top players representing 20 nations, the stage is set for a spectacular event that will engage and inspire audiences around the world."
No stone has been left unturned to ensure that every need is covered for the 20 participating teams. The venues and team bases have been selected with performance and player welfare in mind, while every aspect of tournament delivery has been designed to enhance the team and fan experience.
Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said: "Players are at the heart of Rugby World Cup 2015 and the facilities in stadia, at the training venues or team bases will be of an exceptional standard. They will have everything they need to perform to their potential on the world’s greatest rugby stage.
"It will be the same for fans from the in-stadia experience to fan-zones, broadcast and social media and we look forward to welcoming everyone in joining us to celebrate what promises to be an unforgettable and very special Rugby World Cup."