By Justin Palmer
The 2015 Rugby World Cup won by New Zealand has been hailed by organisers as the biggest, best and most competitive yet.
The All Blacks’ 34-17 final victory over Australia on Saturday to secure a record third world title was watched by an estimated 120 million people across the globe.
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said the six-week tournament was the “best-attended, most-watched, most socially-engaged, most commercially-successful Rugby World Cup”.
Organisers said over 2.47 million tickets were sold across all 48 matches with over one million fans visiting fan zones during the tournament in England and Wales.
Over 250 million pounds was generated in ticket revenues, delivering an 80 million pounds surplus to World Rugby and a 15 million pounds surplus to the English RFU “to be invested into the development of the game”.
“Rugby World Cup 2015 will be remembered as the biggest tournament to date, but I also believe that it will be remembered as the best,” Lapasset said.
“But this special Rugby World Cup has been about much more than numbers, it has been about the amazing atmosphere in full and vibrant stadia, the excitement around the host nation and in Cardiff, the unforgettable moments played out by the world’s best players and the friendships that have been created along the way – the very best of our sport has been on display.”
The tournament began with a bang on the opening weekend last month with Japan’s shock victory over South Africa and although the Brave Blossoms ultimately failed to reach the knockout stage despite three pool wins, their game against Samoa was watched by a record national TV audience of 25 million.
England’s failure to qualify from their pool was a huge letdown for an expectant nation hoping for a repeat of their 2003 triumph.
Stuart Lancaster’s side lost to Wales and Australia in the so-called ‘pool of death’, their defeat by the Welsh watched by 11.6 million viewers on ITV – the largest Rugby audience in the United Kingdom since the 2007 Final.