Wales' national sport has increased participation on a global scale by 19% since the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has seen even larger increases in emerging nations like USA (350% increase), Africa (33%) and Africa (%22).
Rugby, the report concludes, is now the sport of choice for more than 5 million men, women and children in over 117 countries and Welsh Rugby Union National development manager Jason Lewis speaks in support of the view that the game has grown steadily in the last five years with reference to his own findings.
"Participation in the game in Wales has risen by 16% in the last five years, with a steady increase of around 3% a year recorded across our national game," said Lewis.
"The pleasing thing in Wales is that a lot of our growth is seen in mini rugby and we have a team of development officers who have been working very hard behind the scenes to make this happen. We use the phrase 'max the minis' which means we want maximum participation in mini rugby.
"We are working closely with schools as well and the overall aim is to get more and more youngsters involved in the game. Its pleasing to hear that the hard work we are doing in Wales is being replicated on a global scale by the IRB."
But Wales, who are currently ranked 7th in the IRB World Rankings, punch well above their weight when comparing the current player pool to nations like England (2.5 million) and France (280000).
In fact, the number of registered players in Wales - around 43,000 - is also dwarfed by those in America (81,000), Argentina (102,790) and even Japan (122,598).
Emerging nations, like Japan, Argentina and Sri Lanka, the study shows, are experiencing unprecedented levels of growth thanks to IRB investment, the development of non-traditional game formats like Sevens Rugby and legacy programmes
The report also suggests that Rugby is penetrating untapped Asian markets too, including Pakistan, where participation quadrupled over the past two years with an increase of 250% in the last year alone, and Iran, where the sport is now played in 15 out of 30 provinces and where Women's Rugby thrives.
"Rugby is in a healthy state with participation now spreading through new territories and across demographics in emerging markets. While traditionally Rugby has been concentrated in relatively small pockets, it is widely accepted that the future strength and development of the sport is dependent on achieving a higher level of competitive balance between the developed and emerging rugby nations," said Professor Simon Chadwick, Director of the Centre for the International Business of Sport (CIBS) at Coventry University.
IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset, said: "These are extremely exciting times for Rugby with strong growth and participation worldwide. This report, commissioned by MasterCard, underlines that growth is not just continuing, but is accelerating and is as prominent in emerging Rugby markets as traditional Rugby countries.
"The IRB is committed to the development of the Game and through a strong programme of investment, coaching and education funded through the commercial success of Rugby World Cup we are committed to ensuring that more men, women and children can enjoy a sport that brings people together through values of integrity, respect, solidarity."
"We are also noticing the boost that Olympic Games inclusion has given Rugby and we are excited by the opportunities that are now being presented to our Member Unions through National Olympic Committee and as we count down to Rio 2016. We are working in partnership with the IOC and the Olympic family to ensure that Rugby Sevens' Olympic debut is both memorable and successful."
Japan was the top Asian market ranked fifth worldwide with 122,598 registered players ahead of Sri Lanka (103,325), Argentina (102,790), Australia (86,952) and the US (81,678). England (2,549,1962), South Africa (632,184) and France (273,084) topped the table for 2010 participation.
Participation in Africa is being driven by a surge in young recruits - more than 80% of the continent's players are under 20 years old. The report attributes the growth of Rugby in Africa to the high profile of Sevens Rugby - particularly following the success of Kenya - and new development initiatives funded through the IRB's Strategic Investment Programme.
The study finds Asia's interest in Rugby has been boosted by Japan securing hosting rights for Rugby World Cup 2019 and Rugby Sevens' status as an Olympic sport from 2016, which is expected to have a huge impact on development across the Region.
Participation in China has grown 13% since 2009, according to the report, but is currently a miniscule 5,430 registered players from a population of 1.3 billion. While 89% of participants are over-20 males, the Chinese women's Sevens team has been more successful than the men's team. It is one of the top ranked women's sides in Asia although it lost to Kazakhstan in finals of the Asian Games.
Rugby Sevens has been added to the 2013 Chinese National Games programme and will be included in the national development system aimed at developing elite athletes.
While Rugby is still thought of as a niche, amateur sport in the US, it shows a 350% participation increase since 2004 and staggering growth in terms of economic impact. The 2007 US Sevens International tournament in San Diego had an estimated impact of USD625,000.
The study uncovers a strong positive correlation between the number of Rugby participants in a country and its IRB World Ranking, suggesting that there is a close link between the two variables.
According to the report, though a number of other factors are important, if countries are to improve their playing quality they need to increase participation. Additionally, bringing Rugby to areas not traditionally involved will engage athletes who might otherwise be attracted to other sports, or to those who otherwise may have not engaged with physical activity at all. The study shows that while Rugby faces stern competition from other sports and entertainment activities, over the last decade it has managed to harness the renewed enthusiasm for the Game in a number of ways, to become one of the world's fastest growing sports.
Stuart Cameron, vice president, Sponsorships, Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard Worldwide, said: "Our study shows that the hard work done to bring Rugby to new audiences is paying off. It is clear that communities - particularly in Africa and Asia - are buying into what Rugby has to offer. In a Rugby World Cup year, and in preparation for the 2019 tournament in Japan, that is a powerful endorsement of the sport and an indicator of its strong future."