Rugby World Cup kicks-off with record merch sales

Pre-tournament sales are 50% higher than in 2015 as IMG readies extensive product programme to meet fan demand and reflect the culture of host nation Japan

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 19.09.2019 | Events

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Merchandise sales for the Rugby World Cup 2019 are expected to reach an all-time high as pre-kick-off sales outperform those for the 2015 tournament by 50 per cent.

IMG has signed more than 45 local and international licensees for this year’s Rugby World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow in Japan and is the first to be held in Asia.

The hundreds of official products range from merchandise and apparel to unique lifestyle and traditional Japanese items. They are available in more than 70 stores run by official retail partner Legends International, including a 1,000sqm megastore in the centre of Tokyo, meeting demand for the 400,000 international visitors expected to flock to Japan throughout the six-week tournament. Products are also available in more than 75 countries worldwide.

Bruno Maglione, IMG’s President of Licensing, says: “Our objective from the start was to build a programme that celebrates the first Asian host country edition of this global tournament while also capitalising on the overall growth of the sport itself in traditional rugby markets and newer ones.

“Our Japan team and international offices have worked together to develop an extensive suite of products that captures the uniqueness of the host country, as well as providing typical sports merchandise for rugby’s growing legions of fans traveling or watching from their homes around the world.”

Canterbury was appointed as the tournament’s branded sports outfitter, offering a host of apparel staples, accessories and more in addition to co-branded national team jerseys.

The merchandise assortment also features a diverse range of collectibles and lifestyle goods that reflect the unique culture of the host nation. These include traditional Japanese Jimbaori coats and Kimekoji dolls, as well as jewellery and toys featuring the tournament’s official mascot. Food licensing has been another distinctive component of the local offering, with branded ice cream, confectionery, cookies, rice crackers and Shumai dumplings.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper says: “Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a very special and global celebration of rugby and, these incredible sales demonstrate that it will not just be big in Japan, but is capturing the imagination of fans and new audiences globally.”

Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place in Japan from 20 September until 2 November.

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