The Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015 burst into life last month with hundreds of thousands of fans treated to some barnstorming matchups in fine autumn weather.
There was no slow-burn crescendo through the group stages of this 8th incarnation of the world’s third-largest sporting extravaganza—after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The on-field action has more than matched the pyrotechnics of the pre-match entertainment. A number of tier-two nations have sought to overturn the established order, none more so than Japan’s Brave Blossoms who, in their opening game against the South African Springboks, created a finale of such sublime drama that Harry Potter author J K Rowling tweeted, “You couldn’t write this …”.
Early pool games attracted record RWC attendances of close to 90,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium. And, as at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the passion, humour and good-natured rivalry of the legions of fans have enlivened the stage upon which the world’s greatest teams perform.
While meticulous and detailed planning is key, the secret of the tournament’s success is undoubtedly the fans’ enthusiasm. It has created the jamboree atmosphere that will ensure the tournament’s legacy.
The organisers of RWC 2019, who will seek to sprinkle some of the same excitement on the tournament in Japan, will be heartened to learn that about 25mn people in the country watched Japan v. Samoa. According to The Guardian, this is the largest national viewing audience in rugby history.
Although there will inevitably be challenges in maintaining and enhancing this spirit in the build up to 2019, it hints at a level of interest that could sustain attractive opportunities for business.
Bringing you leaders
For those not lucky enough to have travelled to England to watch the rugby, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan was delighted to provide a bit of sporting razzmatazz in Tokyo last month by hosting an event with Jenson Button MBE.
Made possible by GlaxoSmithKline K.K. and the McLaren Technology Group, more than 100 guests met the 2009 Formula 1 world champion who, with nearly 280 race starts, is the third-most experienced F1 driver of all time. Probing questions posed by pupils of The British School in Tokyo ensured a frank and lively session that gave attendees insight into the dedication required to be a champion.
This month we will be welcoming members to events with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and Lord Patten, former governor of Hong Kong and former European commissioner for external relations.
So, whether you are interested in sport, politics or business, I hope you will agree that the BCCJ continues to bring you the people who matter.