UK: How did the 2023 Rugby World Cup compare to previous years?
November 2nd, 2023, Christien Pheby

UK: How did the 2023 Rugby World Cup compare to previous years?

The 2023 Rugby World Cup has ended, with the Springboks narrowly beating the All Blacks to take home the trophy for the fourth time in the history of the competition (an all-time record). But how did the tournament go down with UK fans after England made the semi-final and Wales made the quarters?

Our data shows that, in terms of YouGov SportsIndex Buzz scores – which measure whether consumers have heard anything positive or negative about a sporting event – scores for the 2023 Rugby World Cup rose from 6.3 at the beginning of the competition to 19.2 by the final: an improvement of 12.9 points, and the highest score registered during the tournament.

This represents an improvement on 2015: when scores were at 14.0 at the beginning and hit 17.0 by the end (+3.0), peaking at 25.1 on October 12, 2015. That year, England were knocked out at the pool stages despite hosting the tournament. The 2023 Rugby World Cup, however, underperformed in terms of Buzz compared to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, when England made the final. Scores rose from 14 to 35 (+21) over the course of the competition.

Impression scores, which measure general positive and negative sentiment towards a brand, tell a similar story: the Rugby World Cup went from 19.2 upon launch to 23.9 by the final (+4.7).

Again, this represents an improvement on 2015: which started out at 20.9 and fell to 20.1 (-0.8) – we can once more likely attribute this to England’s worse-than-predicted performance at the contest – and a decline compared to 2019, where scores started off higher at 26.8 and improved to 29.5 by the end of the competition (+2.7).

So if we can partially attribute 2023’s underperformance compared to 2019 to the UK’s managed expectations for England, we can maybe say that lack of promotion paid a part too. The decision to ban sharing highlights from the Rugby World Cup on social media – perhaps a form of advertising itself – may have also contributed.

As for the general standard of the rugby being played, 2023 saw Quality scores rise from 19.2 to 23.9 (+4.7). Yet again, 2015 was a little worse – with scores rising from 19.4 to 23.1 (+3.7) – and 2019 much better, with scores jumping from 23.3 to 25.8 (+2.5).