The Japanese Top League season kicked off over the weekend with record attendance numbers for the opening round of action.
The domestic competition, which will run until May, was delayed by five months to accommodate Japan’s hosting of last year’s World Cup. Following the hosts’ successful run to a first-ever quarter-final, interest in the game in the Asian nation is at an all-time high.
A number of high-profile players were in action, including members of the Springboks’ World Cup-winning squad, with 116,737 fans attending the eight games across the country during the first round of fixtures.
This is an increase of 39% in comparison with last season’s opening round and a 176% jump on the opening round following the 2015 World Cup.
The average attendance of 14,952 is larger than that of the English Premiership and PRO14 two weekends ago.
A further indication of the rapid growth in interest in the sport was seen when 57,345 fans packed into the New Olympic Stadium on Saturday, to witness the All-Japan University Rugby Championship final between Waseda and Meiji.
Waseda ran out as eventual winners beating Meiji 45-35, in the highest-scoring final in the competition’s history.
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