France true winner of Rugby World Cup 23


France Rugby WC impact Image: Coliseum GSVA

Rugby World Cup France 2023 delivered a significant social and economic impact for the host country while efforts to limit its environmental footprint were ‘remarkable’.

According to the official impact report on the Rugby World Cup produced by experts from EY on behalf of the French Ministry of Sport, the 10th edition of the men’s flagship event generated €1.8 billion of spend and a net input for the host country of €871 million.

The comprehensive report gives an in-depth analysis of Rugby World Cup’s clear hosting benefits to boost the host nation’s economy, drive positive social change and reduce the global carbon footprint inherent to international competitions.

Report highlights include:

  • Rugby World Cup 2023 delivered a net input of €871 million for France’s economy and a total of €1.8 billion total spend
  • 425,000 international visitors (72 per cent from Europe) staying 10 days on average in France and spending €170 a day
  • Estimated public funding (€70m) for security, stadiums and fanzones covered by tax revenue generated by the event (€84m) making RWC 2023 an attractive investment for the French state
  • 39 per cent of the total tourist spend benefitted local communities outside of the host cities showcasing France 2023’s nationwide positive impact
  • 98 per cent of spectators satisfied with their stay in France with 82 per cent wishing to return, underscoring Rugby World Cup’s attractiveness in boosting tourism in the medium-term
  • Significant Rugby World Cup “effect” with a 12 per cent increase of registered players in France between February 2023 and February 2024
  • 160,000 direct beneficiaries from France 2023’s social programmes making it a best-in-class programme according to EY
  • RWC 2023 total carbon footprint tallies 830,000 tons of CO2 equivalent with 86 per cent coming from international visitors’ travel outside of France (scope 3 emissions)
  • Overall environmental impact mitigated using existing facilities and focusing strongly on public transport infrastructures and low-carbon mobility plans
  • France 2023’s carbon absorption programme to take a shared responsibility approach regarding key scope 3 emissions

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup 2023 was a fantastic showcase of our sport and values, and we are delighted to see that its positive impact went beyond the field of play with tremendous benefits for the host country, its population, businesses, society and the wider environment.

“The true value of hosting Rugby World Cup goes beyond the numbers, it is about the togetherness, solidarity, passion and the lifelong memories for the millions of fans. As we take our pinnacle competition to England, Australia and USA for the next Women’s and Men’s Rugby World Cups, we will strive to maintain and enhance this positive impact to benefit local communities and economy while carefully addressing the important topic of our environmental footprint.”

The report estimates that 5,200 jobs were created thanks to Rugby World Cup 2023 and France 2023’s strategy to prioritise French companies in its commercial structure and for its operational delivery. It meant 90 per cent of all suppliers and commercial partners were French organisations, and less than one per cent of France 2023’s operational spend benefited foreign companies.

Importantly, the report highlights that the cost incurred by local authorities (French government, cities and metropolises) was moderate with €70 million spent compared with the €84 million they earned in fiscal revenues with the VAT and tourism taxes.

Environmental initiatives

From the initial bid process in 2017, France 2023 maintained a strong environmental ambition and rightly so as 54 per cent of spectators expect organisers to reduce the tournament’s environmental impact.

Using the methodology provided by the French Ministry of Sports and data from the Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME), the total event’s carbon footprint has been estimated at 830,000 tons of CO2 equivalent.

By attracting rugby fans from around the world, Rugby World Cup 2023 is responsible for these indirect emissions (scope 3) which make up a majority of the tournament’s carbon footprint; 86 per cent of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions came from international visitors’ travel.

While significant, the footprint is estimated to be 3.4 times less than the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament (also organised in France within similar venues) and 4.4 times less than the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup. The total could have been higher without transformative efforts taken by organisers highlighted in the report.

The use of existing facilities and infrastructures for all tournament operations was a key decision that helped keep emissions to the lowest possible early in the planning phase. The tournament did not require any new build and all tournament venues from stadiums to team base camps were repurposed for the event, including the international broadcast and media centres at Roland Garros in Paris.

With transport responsible for 94 per cent of all emissions, France 2023 put a strong focus on low-carbon mobility plans for teams and fans within France. The report lauds the policies implemented, including the decision to make participating teams travel by train or bus for all journeys under five and a half hours (56 per cent of all teams’ mileage was done via train and bus – 80 per cent of all journeys), as well as the emphasis on railway and public transport for fans travelling within France and its host cities.

France 2023 Chairman Jacques Rivoal said: “Our ambition since the beginning of our Rugby World Cup journey has been to leave a positive impact for France and rugby communities, while organising a responsible tournament that set new standards for the future. The impact report brings tangible proof that we have fulfilled our vision with great outcomes for all tournament stakeholders, including strong economic benefits for France and its cities, as well as a fantastic social and rugby legacy.

Rugby World Cup 2023 was a record-breaker in many aspects with unprecedented attendance, viewership, and engagement and we are extremely proud to have organised this amazing celebration of togetherness while taking significant measures to limit and mitigate the tournament’s environmental footprint.”

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