Let’s be clear: regardless of England’s early elimination, this has been a Rugby World Cup that will last long in the memory of rugby fans around the world.
From Japan’s epic win over two time World Cup winners South Africa (one of the biggest shocks in Rugby World Cup history) and Diego Maradona stealing the show when he came to watch his beloved Pumas play, to Scotland’s cruel exit in controversial circumstances in the Quarter Finals and Sonny Williams giving his World Cup winners medal to a young fan – it’s been a World Cup that’s sure to leave a lifelong legacy.
According to a recent BBC Sport article, commercially, rugby’s eighth World Cup has taken the sport to new heights. Never before have as many as 2.4 million tickets been sold for the event, with a world-record attendance of 89,000 at Wembley for Ireland’s match against Romania. Imagine those numbers if any of the home nations had reached the semi-finals, let alone England.
The last six weeks also seem to have changed the way rugby is viewed for the masses. The World Cup was shown live on TV for the very first time in Holland, and England 2015 has been the most discussed sporting event on the year on social media – even smashing the Ashes debates which took place up and down the country when England defeated Australia earlier this summer.
But why are people saying that this has been the ‘best World Cup ever’? Firstly, the standard of the lower-ranked teams has dramatically improved and made every game worth watching, even those between two Tier 2 sides. Secondly, Saturday’s phenomenal final between Australia and New Zealand truly defined the spirit in which the tournament has been played, amid great mutual respect.
From stand out tournament performances from David Pocock, to the breakthrough of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea’s brilliant hat-trick against France, the players have lit up the games of this year’s World Cup.
Tears, tackles, tries and plenty of heart – it’s easy to see why the 2015 Rugby World Cup is being described as the best World Cup ever. It’s just a shame it’s not for the reasons England had originally hoped for!