Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan: a resounding success
The first Rugby World Cup in Asia proved to be a great success!
After the fantastic final between South Africa and England, we take a look at the many positive outcomes of Rugby Wolrd Cup in Japan, of which Societe General was Official Bank and Worldwide Partner. The tournament will long be remembered and may prove to change the sport forever.
A real change in rugby's status quo
For a long time, Rugby World Cup has bene dominated by teams that play in the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship and Europe's Six Nations. This time, Japan's performance - reaching their first-ever quarter final - means that the previously leading nations must now take them seriously and schedule regular meaningful matches so that they can build on their momentum.
This story could not not be complete without acknowledging the local fans. More than 58.8 million Japanese tuned in to watch their teams Quarter Final on TV – more than half the country's population and a record for a rugby match. Even when their team was knocked out they still continued to attend matches and the fanzones. Needless to say Japan's Rugby World Cup journey has surpassed all expectations, not just as a team but as the first Asian nation to host the tournament.
With a record ¥437.2 billion (€3.5 billion) economic impact delivered for Japan, Rugby World Cup has not only shone a spotlight on rugby in Asia but contributed significantly to business and commercial opportunities. Overall Japan 2019 sold 1.84 million tickets to live matches (99.3% of capacity) while more than 1.13 million people attended the official fanzones in the city to catch the action and soak up the atmosphere. During the tournament 500,000 international visitors flew in, filling the hotels, restaurants and bars to capacity for six whole weeks.
The economic benefits of the tournament weren't just felt in the capital of Tokyo; matches were played in stadia across the country. Cities such as Oita in the South and Kobe and Osaka in Central Honshu enjoyed increased local spending, additional employment opportunities, and even investment in local facilities and services. According to an economic benefit report produced by Ernst & Young for Japan Rugby 2019, more than 25,000 employment opportunities were directly and indirectly created domestically because of the tournament.
As a city with a rich rugby pedigree, Kamaishi was a poignant location for a purpose-built stadium. The intimate and utterly unique Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium saluted the people who lost their lives in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and marked the resilience of those who overcame adversity to rebuild their city. Sadly, Japan was also hit by some extreme weather conditions during the world cup, which affected many thousands of people and their homes. A portion of the money raised through ticket sales and donations, the online shop and sponsors and donors, has gone to help future emergency-relief efforts in disaster affected areas of Japan.
Societe Generale's commitment to young people
Rugby World Cup 2019 was also an opportunity to inspire a new generation of young players. The Societe Generale Rugby Spirit Festival in Yokohama brought together 96 young people from 12 charities focusing on social inclusion and 150 students from a Japanese Junior High School. Organised with the charity ChildFund, the Festival gave kids a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect with Japan through rugby and be part of a Rugby World Cup semi-final.