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Strong merchandise sales as rugby mania grips Japan

Licensing programme for Rugby World Cup 2019 set to be largest and most successful ever.

World Rugby and IMG have revealed that the Rugby World Cup 2019 licensing programme is shaping up to be the tournament’s largest and most successful ever.

With IMG signing more than 45 local and international licensees for the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia, pre-tournament sales of the official online store have already outperformed those of the 2015 tournament’s in England by over 50%.

The hundreds of official products – ranging from merchandise and apparel to unique lifestyle and traditional Japanese items – are also available in more than 70 stores run by IMG-appointed official on-site retailer Legends International, including a 1,000sqm megastore in the centre of Tokyo.

Products are being sold in more than 75 countries worldwide, with bestsellers including Union national team jerseys and caps, fan apparel, face towels, keyrings and pin badges.

The six-week tournament is expected to draw a record 400,000 international visitors to Japan and will be the most digitally-engaged rugby event ever.

“Rugby World Cup 2019 will be a very special and global celebration of rugby and, these incredible sales demonstrate that it will not just be big in Japan, but is capturing the imagination of fans and new audiences globally,” said Brett Gosper, ceo of World Rugby.

Bruno Maglione, president of licensing at IMG, added: “Our objective from the start was to build a programme that celebrates the first Asian host country edition of this global tournament, while also capitalising on the overall growth of the sport itself in traditional rugby markets and newer ones.

“Our Japan team and international offices have worked together to develop an extensive suite of products that captures the uniqueness of the host country, as well as providing typical sports merchandise for rugby’s growing legions of fans traveling or watching from their homes around the world.”

In apparel, Canterbury was appointed as the tournament’s branded sports outfitter. In addition to the core Canterbury range and co-branded national team jerseys, consumers have many other choices of products and price-points through multiple collections of branded and non-branded shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, rain ponchos, footwear and fashion accessories.

The available merchandise also features a diverse range of collectables and lifestyle goods that reflect the unique culture of 2019’s host country, including traditional Japanese Jimbaori coats and KIMEKOJI dolls, as well as jewellery and toys featuring the tournament’s official mascot.

Food licensing has been another distinctive component of the local offering with branded ice cream, confectionary, cookies, rice crackers and Shumai dumplings.

Rugby World Cup 2019 takes place in Japan from September 20 until November 2.

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