World Rugby and its humanitarian partner the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have announced that Rugby World Cup 2015 fans helped raise in excess of £1 million for the Tackle Hunger programme, the equivalent of approximately six million school meals to the world’s hungry.

An unprecedented programme of education and fund-raising, record-breaking ticket sales of 2.47 million, a global broadcast reach of 780 million homes and the most spoken-about sporting event of the year, with a social reach of 1.5 billion, enabled Tackle Hunger to reach and engage fans and raise funds in support of WFP’s work on the frontlines of hunger, providing food assistance to millions of children and families worldwide. In a first for Rugby World Cup, fans generously donated more than £215,000 through voluntary opt-in donations when buying tickets via the official channels online, while a further £850,000 was raised through text donations, online contributions and fund matching in a joint programme between World Rugby, WFP, host broadcaster ITV and the UK government’s UK Aid scheme. World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “On behalf of World Rugby and the Tackle Hunger programme, I would like to thank the incredible fans attending, watching and engaging with Rugby World Cup 2015. Their incredible generosity truly embodies the passion and solidarity behind sport’s ability to make a real difference and drive social change. “World Rugby, Rugby World Cup and the global rugby family have proudly supported the important work of the World Food Programme since 2003 in their goal to achieve zero hunger and through this partnership, supported by fans and stakeholders, funds have been raised to provide millions of meals to children and families across the world faced with a daily struggle to access nutritious food. “This generosity helped highlight the importance of good nutrition not just to play Rugby but also to give children a brighter future and get the food they need to reach their full physical and intellectual potential.”

With 48 matches across 13 stadia providing the backdrop to what will be remembered as the most competitive and compelling Rugby World Cup, extensive in-stadia activations supported by participating teams were complimented by a social media campaign and ITV’s own channels, which featured a series of live reports from a WFP school feeding programme in Malawi. Rugby World Cup worldwide partner DHL and official hospitality provider Rugby Travel & Hospitality supported the campaign throughout with internal and public facing activities to help promote the Tackle Hunger message. The England 2015 organising committee and media partners also provided valuable in-kind exposure at no cost through print, online and broadcast promotion. Greg Barrow, head of WFP’s London office added: “Once again, the rugby community has come together to support families who face a daily struggle to put nutritious food on the table.  By raising funds and awareness about the vital work of the World Food Programme around the world, the Tackle Hunger campaign provided a rallying point for the rugby community at one of the world’s biggest sporting events and helped WFP to harness the generosity of fans attending matches and watching on TV.”   The funds raised will be used to help WFP reach those who have been caught up in emergencies caused by natural disasters or war and to feed children who are beneficiaries of WFP’s global school meal programme.