In a major boost for the
game of rugby in Japan, a world record national audience tuned in to watch
the Brave Blossoms defeat Samoa in the Rugby World Cup Pool B
match on Saturday.
Twenty-five million people in Japan watched the 26-5 victory for
Eddie Jones and his team in Milton Keynes, eclipsing the previous
record of 20.7 million held by France, when national broadcaster
TF1 televised the first semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2007 between
France and England in Paris.
The recorded audience
represents nearly 20% of the entire Japanese population
and a TV audience share in excess of 64%.
The figures are another
strong indicator that awareness and popularity of rugby is
growing in the country which will host the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
“This is a
significant result for the game in Japan. It shows that the
general population there appreciate the sport and the amazing
performances of their national team over the past few weeks. The
highlight, of course, was the incredible win over South Africa in
Brighton but Japan have set this entire tournament alight with how
they have performed in all their games. Their style of play has
really caught the imagination of rugby fans around the world and,
as these broadcast numbers indicate, in Japan,” said World Rugby
Chief Executive, Brett Gosper. “This boost
in interest could not be better timed as Rugby World Cup will
venture outside of traditional rugby heartlands for the first time
in 2019. It really has given the event a major shot in the arm.”
Still with a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals for
the first time, Japan’s final pool match takes place on Sunday
against USA at Kingsholm in Gloucester, England.
The Brave Blossoms and other national rugby sevens teams in action
during Thailand Sevens 2015.
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