World Rugby, rugby union’s global governing body, has reported that Japan set a new Rugby World Cup national television audience record for the national team’s clash against Samoa on Saturday.
Japan defeated Samoa 26-5 in Milton Keynes, England, with World Rugby stating the game was watched by 25m people in Japan. This eclipsed the previous record of 20.7m held by France, when commercial broadcaster TF1 televised the first semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2007 between France and England.
World Rugby said Saturday’s recorded figures represented an audience share in excess of 64 per cent, hailing the strong ratings ahead of Japan’s hosting of the World Cup in 2019.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said: “This boost in interest could not be better timed as Rugby World Cup will venture outside of traditional rugby heartlands for the first time in 2019. It really has given the event a major shot in the arm.”
Pay-television broadcaster J Sports, commercial broadcaster Nippon TV and public-service broadcaster NHK hold World Cup rights in Japan.
The national team has a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time, but must beat the United States in its final group game on Sunday while hoping other results go its way.