Rugby World Cup 2019 gets under way in Japan in a few short hours.  It will be the most interactive rugby tournament ever, engaging new audiences worldwide with bespoke content across all official online and social platforms.

Google has marked the start of the tournament with a Doodle, which went live this morning in Japan, while YouTube will feature comprehensive match highlights from World Rugby and rights holding broadcasters.

Throughout the event, when people search ‘Rugby World Cup’ on Google they will find the latest updates, scores, and more, with a complementary video feature – a first for any rugby event.

Searching on the Google News app will bring up an interactive tournament wheel that transports users straight into the latest news from the event.

Earlier this week, World Rugby launched bespoke Rugby World Cup 2019 twitter emojis to bring the tournament alive on that particular channel.

In addition to new team, venue and fixture emojis, fans can share a new #RWC2019 hashtag featuring the tournament logo, the #WebbEllisCup and even the match officials #Team21, which features a whistle.

Great content

Building on the success of England 2015 which achieved 400 million video views, 2.5 million uses of #RWC2015, 28 million unique website viewers and 2.8 million Official App downloads amongst many record-breaking highlights, fans are in for a treat during Japan 2019.

Engaged rugby fans will have every minute of the tournament available to view and analyse but but World Rugby is especially looking to engage the wider sports fan, youth and international audiences across all platforms.

This offering will include exclusive behind-the-scenes match content, a hosted daily show highlighting cultural experiences around Japan using various different rugby personalities, similar to what we carried in yesterday’s Daily Video,  which is being targeted at 15 – 24 year olds.

Match highlights with additional camera feeds, a new Podcast airing twice weekly, audio commentary to all matches in 5 languages on the official app and website, player tracking technology and an interactive match centre to supplement the television broadcast will all be available for the first time this time round.

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“Fans want to be closer to the action and immersed in the sport,” said World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper.

“That means highlights, analysis, behind-the-scenes team, fan and player content, news, statistics – all of these and more are now the expectation, not the unique.”

“We aim to bring fans closer to the action, the teams and the warmth of the Japanese welcome as Asia hosts its first Rugby. We hope to use the power of rugby to bring together an enormous global audience as well as enabling fans to engage with more than just the match day content.”

“We are also working with the teams to produce and share content across our respective channels, ensuring fans will get an insight into the sport like never before. This certainly will be a game-changer in every aspect.”

Engaging narrative

“We’re going to use this incredible Rugby World Cup as a springboard to get rugby in as many new households across the world as we can – online, on social or via our broadcast,” added World Rugby Chief Marketing Officer Marissa Pace.

“Engaging content and narrative will be at the forefront of all our owned platforms and social communities in four languages, and we’re embracing an audience-first approach – a step forward for us as a governing body.”

“Whether it’s using user-generated content in our daily show, the multitude of social platforms that we’re across, our new podcast or the Match Centre on, we’re looking forward to opening our doors to a new generation of rugby fans.”

“During major sporting events, fans around the world come to platforms like YouTube and Google for news, information and video highlights,” said YouTube’s Head of Sport for EMEA, Tomos Grace.

“As a Welshman, I know the passion that rugby inspires and so we’re proud to play a role in taking this fantastic competition to a broader global audience.”

In an innovative step forward for media engagement, the world’s media accredited for the tournament will also benefit from additional video content with World Rugby making available free downloadable post-match and eve-of-match press conferences for native website posting as well as daily 30-second digital highlights.

The offering, a first for Rugby World Cup, will include the introduction of an izone in venue media centres, where media can film interviews on the smartphones for publication. All material will be available via the dedicated Media-Zone, which will also feature video content captured by a team of official Rugby News Service agents.

“The media environment is evolving rapidly and for what will be a ground-breaking Rugby World Cup on many levels, we are providing accredited media with unprecedented access to video content and additional content-capturing opportunities to bring fans closer to the action,” according to World Rugby Head of Communications Dominic Rumbles.