RFU says Rugby World Cup is still a ‘fantastic shop window’ despite England exit

The chief executive of the Rugby Football Union Ian Ritchie admits that England’s early exit from the Rugby World Cup is “enormously disappointing” but he insists the tournament is still on course to be a “great economic success.”

Rugby WC

Speaking at IGD’s The Big Debate event today (6 October), Ritchie said England reaching the latter stages of the tournament was one of three key objectives for the RFU alongside hosting a memorable event and helping to promote the sport.

On the latter two fronts, he said the RFU is succeeding, citing the 89,000 people who bought tickets to watch Ireland v Romania, the 25 million Japanese viewers who tuned in for Japan v Samoa, and the 650,000 ticket applications for games at Twickenham.

“The Rugby World Cup will be a great economic success and the tournament has shown the world the camaraderie and atmosphere that is unique to the sport,” he said.

“When Japan beat South Africa, there were South African fans cheering on the Japanese. Images like that have helped to boost the sport’s profile and then some.”

He said the RFU had invested £350m back into improving the game and that the tournament was succeeding in generating interest at grass roots level.

However he also admitted that there was a huge element of disappointment after England’s surprise exit.

“I don’t think the event is damaged but of course it is enormously disappointing,” he added.

“The Rugby World Cup will go from strength to strength over the remaining weeks, it is still a fantastic shop window.

“I’ve read some astonishing stuff about beer sales and how England exiting took £3bn out of the stock market. Yes there is an impact but we have tried to invest in the legacy and I’m confident we have the right schemes in place.”

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