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Report: Global Rise in Rugby Interest

A new global study from Nielsen has highlighted rugby’s strong growth in both established and emerging rugby nations during 2019.

The study collected and analysed data from both traditional and emerging rugby nations around the world and the key findings were released in a white paper entitled “Global Reach of Rugby 2019”.

Key findings:

  • Interest in rugby is growing significantly across the world. There were 877 million rugby followers in 2019, which represents an increase of 11% on 2018
  • In 2019, there were an estimated 405 million rugby fans, and 126 million avid fans, marking an 18% and 17% increase since 2018, respectively
  • Women’s rugby is on the rise, with interest in established markets up to 45% and in emerging markets to 27%, a 15% and 22% increase since 2018, respectively
  • Across 36 surveyed markets, there were over 140 million female rugby fans in 2019, which marks a 29% increase since 2018
  • There has been a growing global interest in men’s rugby, increasing to 63% in established markets and 30% in emerging markets, an 11% and 15% uplift compared to 2018, respectively
  • Rugby is associated with a host of positive values and two thirds of followers in established markets agree that the sport sets a positive example
  • Following Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, rugby interest is soaring in the country, with the number of avid fans quadrupling, and the number of fans increasing by 138% in 2019
  • The inspirational impact of RWC 2019 spread across Asia. In India, 14% of people are now interested in rugby, a 75% growth since 2018, and Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam featured in the top 20 for Rugby World Cup 2019 TV figures globally
  • The number of rugby fans across the surveyed emerging nations has almost doubled since 2013, up to 168 million, with Brazil and India showing the most impressive levels of growth
  • With the number of followers of the sport rising to 65%, France was particularly engaged with rugby in 2019, as excitement builds in the country ahead of hosting Rugby World Cup 2023
Dylan Rogers
Dylan Rogers

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