World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont has hailed Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 as a “special and ground-breaking” event as New Zealand lifted the coveted trophy after a pulsating final, bringing down the curtain on a tournament that broke records on and off the field.
More so than any other edition, Ireland 2017 has captured the imagination beyond the sport’s traditional reach. Viewership and social engagement records were smashed, new stars were born and, yet again, the performance bar was raised by the world’s top players and teams.
The superb quality of the final matches also demonstrated the continued advances within the 15s game with World Rugby analysis showing that on average the ball was in play 10 per cent longer than in men’s matches.
Beaumont said: “This tournament will be remembered as a very special and ground-breaking rugby event. It raised the bar. Compelling action, huge fan interaction and a strong family feel characterised an event that captured hearts and minds beyond the traditional rugby community.
“The level of global coverage and excitement is testament to the performances of the world’s top teams and reflects the surge in interest around the world. Off the field, our friends from the IRFU did an exceptional job at hosting the event, while the volunteers and fans were simply brilliant.
“But most of all, it is the teams who deserve the praise. There is no doubt that they have inspired a new generation of girls and boys to get into rugby and while only one team can be crowned champions, all the teams were fantastic on and off the field – rugby has certainly been the winner.”
‘It’s a wrap’ – The #WRWC2017 highlights:
The best attended – Ireland 2017 raised the bar in terms of support throughout the tournament with a record total attendance of 45,412, showcasing rugby to new audiences:
- The pool stages in Dublin sold out with 17,516 attending matches
- The final attracted 17,115 spectators
- Thousands more visited the dedicated fan-zone at UCD
The most viewed :The tournament captured hearts and minds across the globe with Ireland, France, the UK and USA all recording record viewing figures:
- A new tournament record of a peak audience of 3.2 million tuned into France 2 for the France v England semi-final
- A peak of 2.65 million tuned in to ITV in the UK to watch the final scheduled on ITV’s main channel - The largest single audience for a Women’s Rugby World Cup final and almost half of the audience for the men’s final in the UK at RWC 2015
- Strong broadcast figures also recorded in key markets including the USA and IRE
The most engaged: Ireland 2017 was the most socially engaged World Rugby event of 2017, generating record video views, social engagement rates and website traffic, inspiring a new, younger audience:
- 45 million views across official tournament platforms, the best-performing World Rugby event of the year and the biggest since Rugby World Cup 2015
- 73 per cent of social media engagement was under 24, while a 53/47 per cent audience split between female and male fans, highlighted the appeal of the action to both females and males
- There were 63,000 uses of #WRWC2017 and in total, while 50,000 new fans joined World Rugby’s social media communities
- 600,000 unique users visited www.rwcwomens.com over the duration of the tournament from 223 different territories, generating four times as many page views as WRWC 2014
The most legacy-driven: The IMPACT Beyond 2017 programme has ensured a legacy-first approach to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, promoting participation at every level:
- Visiting all of Ireland's 32 counties, the WRWC 2017 Trophy Tour covered 275 events across 140 days, engaging more than 30,000 people, the largest ever undertaken for a Women's Rugby World Cup
Irish Rugby Football Union President Philip Orr said: “Hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup has been a tremendous honour for Ireland and one which has been embraced enthusiastically by the Irish public.
“It has been tremendously rewarding for the IRFU to witness the level of co-operation North and South at government level, from tourism authorities, state agencies, the volunteers and of course from World Rugby who have been so committed to making this a tournament like no other. Our heartfelt thanks go to all.”
The event also provided the backdrop to the highly successful captains’ breakfast and leadership forum to consider strategies to advance women’s rugby and women in leadership roles within the game. As always, World Rugby will undertake a full review of the tournament, including team and host feedback, before launching the host selection process for the next edition of the showcase event.
Beaumont added: “We are determined to ensure that the future of women’s 15s competition is bright, exciting and sustainable on and off the field. That is why the women’s plan consultation process is so important. It reflects the rugby family’s commitment, not just to the pinnacle event, but to an accessible, growing, competitive and commercially strong sport.”
In November, the World Rugby Council will consider the 2017-25 women’s rugby plan, an action plan to build a stronger, sustainable game from the bottom up and throughout a highly collaborative process, unions and players alike are welcoming the advances.