Rugby World Cup: What you need to know

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Rugby World Cup economic winner

Friday night will see 20 countries from around the world descend on the U.K for the start of the Rugby World Cup as host nation England take on Fiji in front of 82,000 roaring fans at a floodlit Twickenham.

CNBC takes a look at the tournament.

What's the big deal?

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One of the world's biggest sporting events, anticipation ahead of the 20-team tournament – which will feature global powerhouses such as New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Ireland – has reached fever pitch.

According to organizers, 95 percent of tickets – or 2.25 million – have been sold so far, while more than 772 million households across the planet will potentially have access to matches on TV.

The final will take place on October 31st, with current world champions New Zealand, led by iconic captain Richie McCaw, hoping to become the first side in history to defend their title.

Economic benefits

As well as all the sporting drama set to take place over the next month or so, the host nation stands to benefit financially too. Organisers say that up to £1 billion ($1.56 billion) of added value will be pumped into the U.K. economy, with a further £2 billion of indirect value added.

With matches taking place across the country, from Newcastle in the north-east to Exeter in the south west, the U.K.'s tourism industry will receive a significant boost.

According to a report from EY released at the end of last year, up to 466,000 tourists will visit the U.K. during the tournament. It is expected that they will spend £869 million on everything from transport and accommodation to match tickets and entertainment.

Happy Hour

Michel Gangne | AFP | Getty Images

One sector of the economy that is also set to benefit are pubs. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) says it expects U.K. boozers to pour more than 25 million extra pints, with over 2.5 million punters "watching at least one game in the pub." The BBPA says that "in beer sales alone," the total impact on turnover for pubs stands to be roughly £86 million.

"The Rugby World Cup is a great opportunity for pubs, and they will be making the most of it," BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmons said in a release yesterday. "Nothing can match the atmosphere of the Great British pub when it comes to big matches, apart from actually being there. And for those visiting the UK for the tournament, the pub is a huge attraction."


Nancy Honey | Cultura RM | Getty Images

It is hoped that as well as the immediate benefits from the tournament, a lasting legacy for the sport will be established too.

According to EY, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will invest £10 million over four years "to help clubs improve their clubhouses and pitches", while at least £1 million will be invested in new coaches and referees.

Perhaps most significantly, the RFU is already implementing its All Schools programme to bring new players to the game.

Described by the RFU as one if its "major development programmes from the 2015 Rugby World Cup," All Schools – which began in 2012 – will see the sport taken to 750 state secondary schools, where soccer is more often than not the most popular sport.

The RFU says that together with the Rugby Football Foundation, this will create a "positive legacy" for one million children up and down the country.