Rugby World Cup: new directions or more of the same?

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23 Scopus citations


In 2015, England will host the eighth Rugby World Cup–a global event that started in 1987 but to date has only ever included 25 different nations. The Rugby World Cup, along with the Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics and the Ryder Cup, are a group of several sporting major events that claim to be the third largest sporting event in the world. Each of these events has limitations in terms of a truly global participation and competition reach, so more research is needed to understand the development and future expansions of sporting major events. This paper offers a longitudinal overview of Rugby World Cup events before looking ahead to Japan 2019. Geographical insight offered in this paper will be framed around notions of scale in relation to core and periphery. The International Rugby Board, now referred to as World Rugby, has developed a 2010–2020 strategic plan to that focuses on investing in the development of the sport outside the eight foundation member nations. This paper will address the expansion opportunities and reflect on limitations and issues surrounding the governance of rugby union. As this paper discusses, international governance has limited rugby’s expansion and inclusion beyond the core; however, future exposure through sporting major events in markets outside the core attempts to securing new commercial opportunities and global expansion. Japan is speculated to play a key role in promoting these expansion efforts through their commercial power, especially in Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-354
Number of pages14
JournalSport in Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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