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A record two million spectators for World Cup

Latest update : 2008-02-18

The Rugby World Cup held in France was a record-breaking tournament as spectator figures broke the 2 million barrier for the first time in its 20 year history, according to the International Rugby Board.

DUBLIN — France may not have won the 2007 World Cup, but the hosts were part of a record-breaking tournament as spectator figures broke the 2 million barrier for the first time in its 20 year history, according to the sport's ruling body, the International Rugby Board (IRB).

The number of people attending a Rugby World Cup reached 2.25 million in a tournament that saw matches also hosted in Scotland and Wales.

This represents an average match attendance of 47,000 across the 48 Tournament matches in France, Scotland and Wales, with a 97% attendance rate across the 42 matches held in France.

"Rugby World Cup is a major event on the global sporting calendar, and Rugby World Cup 2007 was the biggest sporting event to be staged last year," said the newly installed IRB president, Bernard Lapasset, who succeeded Syd Millar after the tournament.

"The Rugby was of exceptional standard, generating fascinating matches both in the pool stages and the knock-out rounds," he said.

Television viewing figures were also markedly up and it was not just in the usual suspects of South Africa and the other southern hemisphere countries where it showed an increase.

Television coverage doubled in Spain, Italy, Portugal and across Asia, while enhanced levels of coverage were also gained in the emerging rugby markets of Russia, India, Canada and the USA, highlighting rugby's growing global appeal.

"It is also significant to note that RWC 2007 matches were the top six viewed programmes of any description in France during 2007," commented Lapasset, whose home country of France benefited from an additional 400,000 visitors from abroad delivering a total economic impact of 4 billion euros.

He added: "Over 20 million viewers in France tuned in to watch the France versus England semi-final at Stade de France, bettering the figure achieved for the football World Cup final involving France at the same stadium in 1998.

"Coverage of the England versus South Africa final attracted the highest viewing figures for a single programme in the UK in 2007, with nearly 17 million tuning in to see whether England could retain the Webb Ellis Cup," said Lapasset.

Date created : 2008-02-18

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