Now the dust has settled, we can agree that the England on-pitch performance in the Rugby World Cup left a lot to be desired. However, from a participation perspective the Rugby World Cup has been a massive success in terms of getting people back in the game. We were lucky enough to be part of the RFU strategy to use the glow of the tournament to get players off sofa and onto the pitch. Here’s how we did it…
Our Fanatic Planning & Insight department spoke to 21-30 year old lapsed players to understand their feelings about playing rugby again. Fear of injury ranked highly as a negative and the overwhelming positive emotion revolved around nostalgia and peer groups that had been held together by the sport. These links were now less strong but were expressed in Facebook groups that continued to share sports content, bravado and banter. Ex-players talked of the camaraderie of being part of a team and how much they missed it. We felt that if we could re-ignite that connectivity we could change the group behaviours of these loosely knit peer groups and get players back on the pitch together.
We used this insight to build an integrated multi-channel campaign which was launched via participating clubs and RFU channels. The centrepiece was a beautifully shot piece of customisable content featuring ex England hero Lewis Moody as campaign ambassador. The video was a challenge to mates; a call to action, encouraging lapsed players to sign-up and create their own rallying call to get friends back on the pitch together. This content was pushed across key channels through a targeted media buy, utilising Facebook, YouTube and influential sporting blogs and lifestyle sites, with further content released around key games to drive further sign-ups.
Following sign-up, players were reintroduced to the game through an 8 week program of training sessions, promoting the core values of team work, sportsmanship, camaraderie and the banter they missed. All information was housed on a bespoke microsite which directed players to their relevant clubs and was supplemented by a customisable toolkit, providing each club with premium club-specific content including videos, artwork and posters to promote the campaign.
The campaign has led to a spike in local rugby clubs throughout the country with over 2000 fans showing commitment to getting back in the game. In the space of three months, Dukinfield RC in Cheshire have increased their membership from 60 to 167. They are far from unique. Stuart Grainger rugby development officer with the RFU says, “It’s all about building towards Japan 2019… We believe that just as there is a four-year cycle in the performance end of the game, there is a four-year cycle with participation numbers,” Grainger said our legacy campaign around the tournament not only drove participation, but generated further engagement with clubs across the country.
The opportunity of having games on people’s doorsteps has convinced many that this is a sport they can now consider