As the sport welcomes a host of new fans, it creates an opportunity for brands looking to tap into the buzz around the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

It might come second to football in Britain, but there’s no denying rugby is gaining momentum around the world. So much so, its global fan base has grown by 24% since 2013 to 780 million fans.

This explosion has been helped along by the introduction of Rugby Sevens to the Olympics and the stellar performance of Japan’s national team at the World Cup in 2015, which sparked interest in Asia where 112.5 million people now identify as rugby fans.

As rugby’s new age dawns and anticipation builds ahead of the kick-off of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan today (20 September), it creates a huge opportunity for brands to connect with this growing and diverse fan base.

Rugby Union’s governing body World Rugby (WR) believes we are witnessing a “momentous shift in the landscape of the sport”, but brands need to understand this evolving global audience if they’re to take full advantage of the potential they present.

And reaching those fans might be more complicated than marketers assume, as the audience is more diverse than people might think.

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