• Impact Beyond legacy programme surpasses 1 million player mark
• World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont hails ‘incredible achievement’
• Japan 2019 on track to be most impactful Rugby World Cup ever
• Over 112 million rugby fans across Asia according to Nielsen research
• Asia is world’s most populous continent and home to 60% of global youth

With nine months to go until Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019, it was revealed today that World Rugby’s Impact Beyond legacy programme has surpassed all expectations by achieving its target of reaching one million participants in Asia.

Launched in 2013, the ground-breaking Impact Beyond project is a central pillar in World Rugby’s mission to grow the game globally, providing the platform for women and men, girls and boys to be introduced to the game around the world.

The Impact Beyond 2019 programme is a key driver to ensuring that Japan 2019 is on track to be the most impactful Rugby World Cup to date and a game-changer for rugby both in Asia and around the globe.

VIEW VIDEO OF IMPACT BEYOND PROGRAMME >>

Coordinated by Asia Rugby and the respective unions within the region, there have been over 460,00 participants involved in the programme in RWC 2019 host nation Japan, combined with huge contributions from emerging rugby nations such as Pakistan (237,00), China (180,00) and India (106,00) as well as many players from diverse age, gender, ethnic and social backgrounds having their first taste of rugby in countries such as Bangladesh (27,000), Philippines (18,000), Malaysia (18,000), Nepal (8,600), Sri Lanka (8,000) and Indonesia (4,800).

It is a truly exciting time for rugby in Asia with fan-engagement, broadcast audiences and player participation numbers growing year-on-year. Asia is at the centre of rugby’s global growth success story and Rugby World Cup 2019 is set to be a fantastic celebration of the emergence of rugby across Asia.

Recently published Nielsen data found there to be more rugby fans in Asia – 112 million – than any other continent, with China (33 million), India (25 million) and Japan (14 million) all ranking within the top 10 nations globally.

The highly successful Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour visits to India, China, Hong Kong and the Philippines ahead of the three-month domestic tour of Japan further highlighted the huge potential for the growth of rugby in Asia. In India alone, the Webb Ellis Cup was greeted enthusiastically by more than 18,000 young people across Delhi, Mumbai and Bhubaneswar and just last week over 2,500 adults and children got into rugby when the Webb Ellis Cup visited Nepal for the first time.

VIEW VIDEO OF RUGBY WORLD CUP TROPHY TOUR TO INDIA >>

World Rugby and Asia Rugby are also dedicated to growing the broadcast market in Asia and have been working together to develop a sustainable broadcast strategy, that will enable more people to access the game, free-to-air, across Asia than ever before.
It is anticipated that the opening match of RWC 2019 when hosts Japan take on Russia in Tokyo will smash the domestic broadcast audience for a rugby match, which currently stands at 25 million when Japan faced Samoa in RWC 2015 in England.

The achievement of the ‘Asia 1 Million’ project was announced by World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont at a special event to mark the 50th anniversary of Asia Rugby in Bangkok, Thailand.

“The incredible achievement of surpassing the ambitious target of attracting one million participants in Asia to the Impact Beyond 2019 legacy programme is a wonderful example of the extraordinary efforts being put into action to convert this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow rugby in Asia,” said Beaumont.

“This accomplishment is testament to the hard work of our colleagues at Asia Rugby and the unions, and my special gratitude and appreciation goes to the many thousands of volunteers who regularly give their time to support rugby programmes around the world. They are the unsung heroes of the game.

“The World Rugby Council awarded the Rugby World Cup to Japan because we believed that it could be a powerful game-changer for sporting and social change in Asia, the world’s most populous and youthful continent and today’s announcement marks a very important step on the journey.

“Asia Rugby has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years and I believe we can look forward to a very exciting and prosperous future for the game in this region. With just nine months to go until kick off, there has never been a more thrilling time for rugby in Asia as the eyes of the world turn to Japan 2019 and we are looking forward to a very successful and impactful tournament.”

Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu added: “Reaching the Asia 1 Million target so far ahead of schedule is a fantastic achievement. Being active in sport is key to living a rich, healthy and happy life. When you add the camaraderie, values and discipline instilled through playing rugby, you have a tremendous benefit to both individuals and society. I am delighted that Rugby World Cup 2019 is having such a positive impact in driving growth in participation across Asia and congratulate Asia Rugby, its member unions, the Japan Rugby Football Union and World Rugby for reaching this truly monumental milestone.”

The focus of the Impact Beyond programme now turns to the important task of the retention of players and ensuring there is every opportunity for a long-lasting sustainable impact far beyond 2019.

As part of the Impact Beyond programme World Rugby runs ‘Leading Rugby and Growing the Game Workshops’ for developing unions to help enhance their capacity and capability to govern the game and deliver the various growing the game and Impact Beyond strategies across Asia while also increasing the quality and quantity of qualified coaches, match officials, strength and conditioning and medical staff to support the growth of participation in the sport.

An important element of World Rugby’s Impact Beyond legacy plan is a commitment to bringing positive social change through the power of sport. To date, more than 9,500 children and youth from Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam have benefitted from participation in the ChildFund Pass It Back programme, an innovative Sport for Development program led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women Win.

The programme delivers an integrated life skills and rugby curriculum for children and young people in disadvantaged communities across Asia, with girls making up over 50 per cent of the players and coaches. Announced earlier this year, the transformative partnership with ChildFund Pass It Back will positively impact the lives of over 20,000 disadvantaged children in Asia, thanks to the support of Rugby World Cup fans who share in the values of the game and choose to make a donation when purchasing tickets. To find out more, visit www.childfundpassitback.org/

Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place in Japan from 20 September to 2 November 2019. Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets are back on sale on 19 January. In the meantime, Official Supporter Tour and Hospitality packages can be purchased. Full details for the complete range of ticketing options can be found at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.

(Source:World Rugby)