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World Rugby chief hails commercial success of England 2015

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has hailed the commercial success of the 2015 World Cup, stating that the ongoing national team tournament has benefited from having its core business partners and sponsors locked down a year in advance.

Hosted by England, the 2015 Rugby World Cup heads into its semi-final stage this weekend with South Africa taking on New Zealand and Australia facing Argentina at Twickenham, before the event concludes at the London venue with the final on October 31.

“The commercial value is up by 50 per cent on 2011,” Gosper told UK broadcaster the BBC, referring to the increase in revenues from the previous World Cup in New Zealand. “That includes money from sponsors, broadcast revenue – of which the main part is TV rights – and hospitality. All of these areas have done fantastically well. That is all revenue that we reinvest in the game.”

Gosper said the strong financial platform has been created by having the team of main business partners and sponsors signed up one-year before the start of the World Cup, something World Rugby has never achieved for previous editions. “Without our commercial partners the Rugby World Cup would not exist,” he said. “We are grateful for the time and money they put in. (Meanwhile) the sponsors like to be associated with a brand like rugby that is all about character.”

Gosper said the World Cup will result in some £150m (€202.5m/$230.3m) being reinvested in rugby union across the globe, including in new markets for the sport. “We are committed to growing the game in new markets, and promoting the sport beyond our traditional comfort zones,” Gosper added. “We have seen huge growth in Brazil, India, China, Russia. It is also the fastest-growing team sport in the US.”

In order to further this reach in new markets, Gosper said World Rugby has sought to ensure that the World Cup has been broadcast free-to-air in certain territories, rather than trying to monetise the rights for a premium. He added: “Our strategy is reach and value. We would rather grow the game than seek short-term gain.”

The World Cup will next head to Japan in 2019. The Japanese national team has been one of the success stories of England 2015 and Gosper revealed that plans are already in place to engage Asian business in the 2019 tournament.

“We will make some adjustments to allow more local brands to take part (as sponsors),” he added. “We will find a way to generate the involvement of Japanese brands, ones that will sit well with our global partners. That is critical for us.”