Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan most watched rugby event ever

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa lifts the Web Ellis Cup with Siya Kolisi of South Africa following their victory against England in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Final between England and South Africa at International Stadium Yokohama on November 2, 2019 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)
South Africa’s Siya Kolisi (centre) lifts the trophy as South Africa win the 2019 Rugby World Cup final match at Yokohama Stadium. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

An estimated 857 million people globally watched the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan making it the event with the highest audience in the sport’s history, according to World Rugby.

The figures represent an increase of 26 percent (nearly 223 million) from the previous Rugby World Cup held in England in 2015.

By extension, the 2019 Rugby World Cup final between South Africa and England in Yokohama was the RWC final with the highest audience ever with an average live audience of 44.9 million.

The Springboks claimed their third Rugby World Cup with a 32-12 win with inspirational captain Siya Kolisi becoming the first black captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

That represented an 83 percent increase in live television viewing from the 2015 final. Additionally, total viewing figures rose by 63 percent to 51.3 million.

“Interest in the UK and South Africa was high, and a combined 16.7 million people across the two countries made the final a part of their Saturday morning routine – more than double the figures achieved in those markets in 2015,” a statement from World Rugby read in part.

With 425 million people tuned in, Japan provided just over half of the global audience that watched the tournament.

Japan, whose Brave Blossoms reached the quarterfinals, also recorded the highest viewing figures for the Rugby World Cup final, with a live average of 17.2 million people.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said the broadcast figures confirmed their belief that the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan will be remembered as one of the great Rugby World Cups.

“It had everything – exceptional rugby on the field, a host nation team that exceeded all expectations, capturing hearts and minds, and the inspiring story of Siya Kolisi – all creating an incredible story that captured the imagination of people around the world in record numbers.”