World Rugby has hailed the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 as a “special and ground-breaking” event with new records set in terms of attendance and broadcast viewing.
In words that will warm the heart this morning of the bid team for the Men’s Rugby World Cup in 2023, World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont was fulsome in his praise for the tournament.
“This tournament will be remembered as a very special and ground-breaking rugby event. It raised the bar,” he said.
“We had compelling action, huge fan interaction and a strong family feel which characterised an event that captured hearts and minds beyond the traditional rugby community.”
“The level of global coverage and excitement is a testament to the performances of the world’s top teams and reflects the surge in interest around the world.”
“Off the field, our friends from the IRFU did an exceptional job at hosting the event, while the volunteers and fans were simply brilliant.”
“But most of all, it is the teams who deserve the praise. There is no doubt that they have inspired a new generation of girls and boys to get into rugby and while only one team can be crowned champions, all the teams were fantastic on and off the field – rugby has certainly been the winner.”
Ireland 2017 raised the bar in terms of support throughout the tournament with a record total attendance of 45,412, showcasing rugby to new audiences. The pool stages in Dublin sold out with 17,516 attending matches at UCD while the Final in Ulster Rugby’s Kingspan Stadium in Belfast attracted 17,115 spectators.
Ireland, France, the UK and USA all recorded record viewing figures.
A new tournament record of a peak audience of 3.2 million tuned into France 2 for the France v England semi-final, while a peak of 2.65 million tuned in to ITV in the UK to watch the final scheduled on ITV’s main channel.
This was the largest single audience for a Women’s Rugby World Cup final and came in at just under half of the audience for the men’s final in the UK in 2015.
In addition to the mainstream broadcast numbers, there were 45 million views of content across official tournament platforms, the best-performing World Rugby event of the year and the biggest since Rugby World Cup 2015.
73 per cent of social media engagement was with an audience aged under 24, while there was a 53/47 per cent audience split between female and male fans, highlighted the appeal of the action to both genders.
There were 63,000 uses of #WRWC2017 and in total, while 50,000 new fans joined World Rugby’s social media communities.
600,000 unique users visited www.rwcwomens.com over the duration of the tournament from 223 different territories, generating four times as many page views as WRWC 2014.
On the ground in advance of the tournament, the WRWC 2017 Trophy Tour covered 275 events across 140 days in all 32 counties, engaging more than 30,000 people, the largest ever undertaken for a Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“Hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup has been a tremendous honour for Ireland and one which has been embraced enthusiastically by the Irish public,” said IRFU President Philip Orr.
“It has been tremendously rewarding for the IRFU to witness the level of co-operation North and South at a government level, from tourism authorities, state agencies, the volunteers and of course from World Rugby who have been so committed to making this a tournament like no other. Our heartfelt thanks go to all.”
The event also provided the backdrop to the highly successful captains’ breakfast and leadership forum to consider strategies to advance women’s rugby and women in leadership roles within the game.
In November, the World Rugby Council will consider the 2017-25 women’s rugby plan, an action plan to build a stronger, sustainable game from the bottom up.
The part that Ireland has played in bringing that to the next level of engagement is truly important for the sport of Rugby and the advance of Women in Sport in an overall context.
UCD, Ulster Rugby, Heineken, Vodafone and many more within the Rugby community are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.