IRB Chairman Committed to Expanding Rugby Globally

April 26, 2012

Bernard Lapasset, IRB Chairman, today outlined the organisation’s ongoing commitment to growing the sport of Rugby globally. 

Speaking at the International Herald Tribune Sports Business Summit in Istanbul, Turkey he suggested four key factors that have led to an 18 per cent increase in global participation since 2007, including the success and strength of Rugby World Cup, the IRB’s Strategic Investment Programme, the organisation’s event hosting strategy and the effect of Olympic re-inclusion. 

Lapasset said: “These are exciting times for Rugby. We are experiencing unprecedented growth across all continents. There are now more than 5.5 million men, women and children playing the sport in all its disciplines within 117 countries affiliated to the IRB. We are growing in major markets such as China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and the USA.”

He highlighted the importance of Rugby World Cup in driving the growth of the sport on and off the field: “The commercial success of Rugby World Cup has enabled the IRB to invest more than GBP 150 million in our national federations, regional associations, competitions, development, training, education, anti-doping and player welfare between 2009-2012. It is important that our top federations, who generate the major share of revenue, remain strong and that emerging and new federations can grow.”

Talking about the significance of Olympic Sevens inclusion he added: “It is the key that has unlocked the door to participation in emerging and new Rugby markets, thanks to National Olympic Committee and government support, our development strategies and renewed commercial and broadcast interest. Rugby is now on the agenda in these countries, in schools and growth is being accelerated.”

by Ismail Uddin