Last summer’s Rugby World Cup was a spectacle to behold, and from the 18th of September to the 31st of October 2015 we saw 48 memorable games within which every single player but their bodies on the line to take home the famous Web Ellis Cup. Eventual winners New Zealand played some Rugby that was on a plateau even above their closest rivals Australia, whom they defeated 34-17 in an exhilarating final that was the culmination of a fantastic tournament. However despite the dominance of New Zealand, it was some of the so called ‘lesser’ teams that garnered most attention. Argentina’s amazing run to the Semi Finals – eventually finishing fourth place – cannot be ignored.
For years the perennial whipping boys in major tournaments they have now become a force to be recognised within the international Rugby scene, and will hope to cement that reputation in the upcoming years in preparation for the next Rugby World Cup in Japan 2019. This will be a tournament the hosts will also want to impress at, especially after their memorable last minute 34-32 win against South Africa in this year’s tournament, whereby opting to tap a last minute penalty and go for the winning try instead of kicking the penalty to draw the game caused what has been described as “the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history”.
Sadly for the hosts England it was a tournament to forget. One of the early bookies’ favourites to reach the latter stages, they couldn’t navigate it out of the group stage after losses to group toppers Australia and Wales ended their chances of progression. Certainly one of the upsets of the tournament, pressure from the public, the RFU and even major sponsors ultimately turned out to be too much for England. It was a situation that was greatly exacerbated by the media hype around the inclusion of Burgess, surrounding every team selection and press conference Stuart Lancaster had to endure.
Fortunately however, a northern hemisphere Rugby World Cup within which a northern team failed to reach the quarter finals for the first time –Wales, Ireland and Scotland being knocked out in the second round – still attracted record viewing figures and attendances. With over 2.47 million tickets sold for the 48 games it was the highest attended tournament in history, a fantastic achievement that showcased the UK’s love for all things rugby despite the host nation’s being knocked out so early. This was exemplified by the 2 consecutive Rugby World Cup record attendances at Twickenham for the semi-final and final that was the culmination of a fantastic tournament. It wasn’t just the fans that won either. Main sponsors Heineken had a fantastic tournament financially, a move which saw their share price jump up 0.85 after boasting record sales via benefiting from exclusive alcohol deals in every stadium. This success was echoed with other major sponsors Societe Generale SA and DHL (Deutsche Post AG) who also saw significant rises in their respective share price.
Overall it was a fantastic 6 weeks of international rugby, within which sports fans worldwide were treated to a sporting spectacle unmatched by no other on the planet in 2015. Now it’s just the long agonising wait until Japan 2019!