Rugby World Cup - Breaking New Boundaries

April 28, 2016

In the latest installment of its Global Sporting Events programme on April 22, the BCCJ hosted a breakfast session in association with the ANZCCJ at the Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo, welcoming members and guests to hear Murray Barnett, World Rugby’s Head of Commercial, Marketing and Broadcast, speak about the exciting opportunities the Rugby World Cup can bring to a host country and the sport itself.

Barnett opened the session with a short overview of World Rugby which was founded in 1886, originally as a regulator, but is now the global governing body for rugby and the owner of Rugby World Cup. It is headquartered in Dublin with around 150 staff working around the world.

From regulation to inspiration

The organisation stipulates the regulations and laws of the game; determines the guidelines on discipline, anti-doping and anti-corruption; prevents discrimination and promotes fair play. Barnett highlighted the core values of World Rugby, namely solidarity, passion, discipline, respect, and integrity, emphasising that these are key aspects in developing and promoting the game.

Barnett elaborated on the importance of these values: "Rugby provides a unifying spirit that transcends cultural, geographic, political and religious differences. Enthusiasts have passion for the Game and the sport generates excitement, emotional attachment and a sense of belonging to the global Rugby Family. Discipline is an integral part of the Game on and off the field and is reflected through adherence to the Laws, the Regulations and Rugby’s core values. Respect for team mates, opponents, match officials and those involved in the Game is paramount, and integrity is central to the fabric of the Game and generated through honesty and fair play."

Opportunities and Benefits

The Rugby World Cup, said Barnett, is "the pinnacle of the Game and the shop window for our sport. We must use every opportunity to bring rugby to new markets, gain exposure, and reach new audiences."

Barnett reflected on the success of RWC 2015 by providing some insightful numbers. "648 players played 48 matches in 44 days. 2,349 points and 271 tries were scored. With 42 team bases, 13 host venues, 15 fan zones and 11 host cities, the indirect economic impact on the UK amounted to £2.7 billion with a total of 500,000 visitors to the tournament and 41,000 extra jobs supported."

"20,000 hours of matches were broadcast watched by 780 million households with 700,000 Twitter followers and 4.5 million Facebook friends. In total, £150 million was reinvested into rugby with lasting benefits for local communities."

Looking towards RWC 2019, the speaker highlighted some of the major benefits for the host cities: "Tokyo can look forward to increased exposure as a tourist destination; business investment opportunities; event-related employment; increased participation in sport; infrastructure investment; stadium improvements; feel-good factor; and spend by visitors," said Barnett.

The speaker recommended the delivery of RWC "city spectaculars" in Japan similar to the massive rugby ball set into the city walls of Cardiff, dedicated cultural programmes, the special design and illumination of the London Eye, and the "dressing" of many cities throughout the UK which were very popular among the public and highly effective in promoting not only the Rugby World Cup, but the host cities themselves.

Barnett also highlighted the fact that in comparison with other major sporting events such as the Olympics or FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup is a cost-effective event.

In the subsequent question and answer session, BCCJ and ANZCCJ members posed questions on various topics ranging from the challenges for Japan in organising such a large-scale event, broadcasting rights, roles and opportunities for member companies in the run-up to RWC 2019, female representation on the World Rugby committee, the role of the community, and ideas on how to fill stadiums.

Barnett emphasised the importance of knowledge-share between former and future host countries, but also stressed the importance of finding local solutions and embracing fresh ideas by talking with community groups.

The speaker explained that World Rugby selects a different broadcaster in each market and revealed that the chosen partner for 2019 is International Management Group (IMG). The organisation will be working with Dentsu at a local level, but intends to "draw strings" to bring together and involve smaller contributors.

Barnett emphasised that RWC is a private event and not funded by the government or the taxpayer. He spoke positively about the impact of the Games on tourism and local communities. "World Rugby is not coming to Japan focussed on the economic benefits, but on the promotion of the sport and the unifying values of the Game." The speaker added that rugby is becoming increasingly popular among women and that this welcome development is something World Rugby wishes to promote and actively support.

Barnett encouraged companies and the wider rugby community to get involved and to collaborate. He recommended approaching local rugby clubs, hosting rugby-themed events, involving staff in sports initiatives, and working on public relations and milestones to keep the sport in the public psyche. "Use all the assets rugby has to take the sport to the next level!"


Learn more about the BCCJ's Global Sporting Events mission

"The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan supports the interests of its members, along with the organisers of the 2019 Rugby World Cup 2019, and the 2020 Olympics, & Paralympics, to achieve the best possible organization, business and community results before, during and after the events." 

Since 2012, we have been delivering an events programme that underpins this mission, supporting knowledge-transfer between London 2012 and Tokyo 2020.



More Reading

More news from the BCCJ

The Paralympics in Japan: An Agent of Change

BCCJ Launches Global Sporting Events Champions Network

2015 British Business Awards winner interview: Junko Kemi (Entrepreneur of the Year)

JETRO Survey: Foreign Companies to Increase Japanese Operations

Japan's Corporate Governance Code - A UK Perspective

Annual Global CEO Survey

UK Companies Must Report Gender Gap