Rugby World Cup sees women's rugby's largest-ever crowd
The GIST: New Zealand’s victory in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final isn’t the sport’s only cause for celebration. The hosts lifted their sixth world title in front of 42K spectators at Auckland’s Eden Park, capping off a record-shattering tournament with women’s rugby’s largest-ever crowd.
The details: The World Cup attracted all-time high engagement across the country, initially breaking the sport’s attendance record when more than 34K fans filled Eden Park on opening weekend. The numbers are particularly impressive considering this year’s tourney marked the first time spectators actually paid to watch the Black Ferns.
- The Black Ferns won over fans at home, too. New Zealand’s semifinal victory over France drew upwards of a million viewers on domestic television, roughly a fifth of the population. Sweet as.
The why: Improved broadcast arrangements and New Zealand’s gold medal in women’s rugby sevens at the Tokyo Olympics provided the foundation for this massive domestic audience growth. In turn, the team’s ability to spark optimism and inclusivity lured longtime rugby fans and newcomers alike during the Black Ferns’ championship run.
- The engagement translates to larger fanbases for star players like Ruby Tui, who boasts over 80K followers on TikTok and a national following that includes prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
Zooming out: As a rugby-loving country, New Zealand was always well-poised to embrace the women’s game. Its trajectory is remarkably similar to another international tournament in 2022 — the Women’s Euro. Hosts England won over the domestic fanbase of soccer die-hards while also winning the competition itself.