Kiwis splurge at Rugby World Cup

FOR every person living in New Zealand, $42 was spent on Rugby World Cup tickets - likely a per capita record for an international event in recent times.

The tournament finished with sales revenue of $269 million at 87 per cent attendance - just past its target of $268.5 million.

"For New Zealand it's a huge achievement. The sales target was large by international standards, but off the radar compared to anything New Zealand has hosted before," said Rugby New Zealand 2011 marketing and communications general manager Shane Harmon.

New Zealanders bought about 70 per cent of the tickets, or about 952,000 tickets worth $188 million.

Visitors contributed the rest, about $81 million.

"In the end overseas sales were higher than what we expected. We upgraded our forecasts of international visitors to 95,000 just before the start of the tournament, and with 80,000 already confirmed through to the end of September, we will most likely surpass those estimates," Mr Harmon said.

The per capita spend among New Zealanders comes out to about $42.

It compares to $5 for Rugby World Cup 2007 in France and $8 for Rugby World Cup 2003, according to International Rugby Board figures - without even subtracting the visitor spend component.

The soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010 had a per capita sales figure of about $7, said Fifa's official report.

"Given the size of the domestic market our view is that per capita its probably one of the strongest results for any major event in recent times," Mr Harmon said.

"We always felt that Kiwis would get behind and support teams other than the All Blacks, but I think even we were surprised at the amount of colour, noise and atmosphere in the stadiums generated in a large part by Kiwis. In the end it is the fans that have made this tournament so successful."

Well-researched forecasts meant the tournament's actual sales hit the target almost exactly, Mr Harmon said.

"The key for us was striking a balance between ensuring we hit our financial targets but also making sure that a RWC experience was affordable to most New Zealanders."

Relocating eight matches scheduled to be played in Christchurch had been a major challenge, setting the tournament back temporarily by $28 million, he said.

"We were very philosophical about the challenge as our issues paled into insignificance compared to the issues faced by Cantabrians. Nonetheless... this was unprecedented for a major event."

Despite the strong sales figures, the IRB has said the tournament would make far less money than the European-based tournaments before and after it - mostly because of lost broadcasting and sponsorship revenue.


$269m spent on tickets
87% attendance at matches
70% of sales came from NZ
$42 spent on tickets for every man, woman and child in New Zealand

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