There are so many areas that rugby needs to refresh and revitalise, but the most fundamental is better understanding (and growing) its audience – Where are the current and potential fans? How do they consume their news? What challenges/pain points/interests do they have? By knowing this, the clubs, the RFU, World Rugby, have a starting point. They know where to reach people, what to say and how to say it.
With the future in mind, a key audience for rugby will be new, younger followers. Getting them watching games, playing grassroots rugby, and generally engaging with the sport will be a valuable first step. And PR can help achieve this. Decisionmakers across the sport need to be using the media, but they also need to explore all that social media has to offer. Across these channels they can show what rugby is all about, and start changing rugby’s elitist image to one that welcomes everyone, of all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds.
If the success of Formula 1’s Drive to Survive series is anything to go by, rugby’s upcoming Netflix show could be a catalyst for this change. Launched in 2019, Drive to Survive has drawn in new, younger audiences – particularly in the US – massively widening Formula 1’s reach and transforming its image. Which bodes extremely well for rugby. Landing next year, Netflix is releasing a documentary following the 2023 Six Nations. On paper, this sounds incredible for the sport. Hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of new viewers. But sitting back and hoping for the best won’t be enough. At national, club and grassroots level, everyone within the sport should be planning how they’ll grasp this opportunity with both hands. Brand building, media campaigns, social media activity, influencer marketing– rugby needs to make the most of all the new eyes coming its way. This is a chance to capture a completely new audience, and a chance to grow the sport.