Rugby League conquered new Asian lands

Description: Rugby League World Championship, Rugby World Cup 2019 officially opened in Japan on Friday 20/09. 20 national teams will compete together until November 2 to choose the champion of the Rugby League. This is the first time the tournament has been held in an Asian country, in addition to the “mecca” of rugby: Europe, Oceania or South Africa.

Japan team (red striped shirt) crushed Russia on October 30 in the opening match of the World Cup on Tokyo Stadium on September 20, 2019.
Japan team (red striped shirt) crushed Russia on October 30 in the opening match of the World Cup on Tokyo Stadium on September 20, 2019.


Choosing Japan as the host of the tournament, the World Rugby Federation aims to conquer a new continent to internationalize the sport, which is very attractive in competition but not yet widely available.

Rugby League

A sport with a history of over one hundred years. Since 1886,  Rugby League has established IRFB (International Rugby Football Board), the first institution that manages 15 and 7 football, before being renamed World Rugby as it is today.

It was not until 1987 that rugby football hosted its first World Championship in New Zealand. At that time, the World Rugby Federation had only 8 members. After this event, the nations massively joined the rugby village, so far World Rugby has gathered 105 official member states.

However, rugby is still a strange sport for many countries on the planet, in addition to the quite complex rules, so the World Championship is still a closed club. From 1987 to now only 25 teams have participated in the World Cup and the names that entered the final rounds of the tournament are repeated over 9 seasons like New Zeland, Australia, South Africa or England.

Rugby League on the road to globalization

Rugby League

In 2009, the World Rugby Federation unexpectedly chose the country of Sunrise to host the 2019 World Championship. There are many reasons for this choice. Japan is a country with a long tradition of rugby (the British who came to Japan established the first Rugby club in 1866). In Japan, Rugby is the third most popular sport, only after wrestling Sumo and baseball. Japan is also where Rugby League is popularized. Universities and big companies all have clubs participating in national championships.

However, the choice of Japan is also an ambition to open a new economic horizon for  Rugby League in Asia, an area that accounts for 60% of the world’s population but only 370,000 people play this sport.

For a year now, the World Federation’s development program aims to develop 1 million players in Asia. In addition to Japan, the goal of World Rugby is also a country of 1.4 billion people in China, currently only a very small part of the population, about 114,000 players Rugby, but also ranked 9th in the world. about the quantity.

Rugby League

Success in the Japan World Championship will be the motivation for the Rugby League to push beyond the goal of globalization. With 1.8 million tickets sold, the audience coverage has reached over 96%. Between 400,000 and 500,000 foreign visitors will come to Japan to attend the world rugby festival.

According to calculations by experts, the revenue of the tournament in Japan is about 2.8 billion euros, although it is lower than the World Championship record in the UK in 2015 (3 billion euros), the Japanese Rugby League tournament will be more profitable.

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