Digital marketing a key to successful Rugby World Cup bid
The Rugby World Cup is the ultimate rugby competition for fans around the world.
Held every four years over the course of six weeks, the men’s competition features the world’s top 20 national teams competing for the Webb Ellis trophy. The women’s competition has also grown rapidly since it was first held in 1991, and brings together the leading 12 women’s teams – to be expanded to 16 after 2025 – who compete for their own cup.
The Rugby World Cup is also one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, ranking behind only the Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in terms of economic impact and global viewership. An October 2020 analysis showed the men’s edition of the Rugby World Cup is worth around NZD$5.8bn in total economic impact, with visitors pumping around NZD$2.2bn into the local economy. RWC 2019 in Japan was the most watched rugby event ever, with around 859 million people watching on TV, with many millions more following on social media.
It’s no surprise then that the rights to host the Rugby World Cup are keenly contested, and hosting bids are years in the planning. The selection process itself for the hosting rights takes more than a year, with bids undergoing close scrutiny. As well as proving they have the basic infrastructure, talent and expertise necessary to host the event, bidding nations also need to prove they will be able to help grow the game around the world, and inspire a new generation of players to get involved.
In effect, bidding for the Rugby World Cup is as much about a host nation’s ability to market the event and the game itself. In this day and age, effective digital marketing is crucial.
The next edition of the Rugby World Cup will be hosted in France in 2023 and the hosts for 2027 will be voted on by the World Rugby Council in May 2022. One of the nations bidding for the 2027 hosting rights is Australia. Their bid makes use of a number of clever digital marketing strategies, starting with the URL for their website australia2027.rugby.
“The key to a successful digital marketing campaign is a successful website. And the starting point for a successful website is the URL,” says Hamish Miller, CEO of sports tech and marketing innovators ROAR.
“You want to optimise your URL so that it’s simple, memorable and tells your readers – and Google’s crawlers – exactly what it’s about. By including .rugby in the URL as the domain name extension, you’re doing exactly that.
“It’s a really simple trick but it’s hugely effective. We’ve been working on similar initiatives with a number of national rugby associations, helping them move from complicated URLs to .rugby. And they’re seeing huge growth in web traffic, simply because their sites are a lot easier to find.”
One example of this in action is Super Rugby. In 2019, the league switched their URL from sanzarrugby.com/superrugby to super.rugby and almost immediately saw an increase in organic search and direct web traffic.
“When we suggested a similar move to Rugby Australia to help them get the edge over their competition for the RWC hosting rights, this shift was a no-brainer for them,” Hamish says.
Before the rugby world gears up for 2027, however, the Rugby World Cup will be heading to the northern hemisphere for France2023.rugby. Again, the URL is optimised with the .rugby extension, giving the event the maximum exposure possible on the web.