World Rugby has promised to do more to further close the gap between tier-one and tier-two nations before the next Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan, after hailing England 2015 as the "biggest and best" tournament ever.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said he was "ecstatic" at how the RWC had gone, on and off the field, as organisers confirmed they had exceeded their revenue target of £250 million (€350 million) and would return an £80 million surplus to World Rugby and a further £15 million to the Rugby Football Union for reinvestment in the sport.
“The whole tournament has shown our sport at its very best in every possible way, not only to existing fans but to new fans,” said Gosper, pointing to stadiums that were 98 per cent sold out to more than 2.4 million ticket holders and the biggest broadcast reach of any tournament to date.
He added that the money raised would help boost investment in coaching and administration in tier-two nations, after they closed the gap in England.
“We’ve had comebacks, we’ve had ranking upsets,” he said. “Looking ahead, we’re committed to closing that performance gap even further and we will work hard in partnership with the unions to make sure our investment in competition, administrative structures, coaching and technical support reflects our desire to create very competitive tournaments in future World Cups.”
The average winning margin of 20 points was the lowest in RWC history. The average winning margin between tier-one and tier-two sides was 30 points, compared with 36 in 2011. “I’m delighted this has been the most competitive Rugby World Cup to date,” said Gosper. “Our job is to make sure that every World Cup is more competitive than the last, and we have achieved that at each World Cup.”
He rejected the accusation that tier-two nations had been discriminated against in scheduling but said this would be looked at as part of the tournament review before Japan 2019. “We now turn to what is being called the land of the rising scrum,” he said.
The success of Japan in the pool stages, beating South Africa and narrowly failing to qualify, led to record TV audiences of more than 25 million. Guardian Service