What can business learn from the Rugby World Cup?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks you’ll know that England is hosting the Rugby World Cup. Maybe your not at all interested and indeed I posed the question “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?” on Salford City Radio’s Sportszone programme recently. We’ll come back to that a little later.

Even if your not into Rugby Union here are some statistics from the 2015 Rugby World Cup that should interest anyone in business. These are from the IRB report from Ernst & Young. The Economic impact of the Rugby World Cup 2015. Plus my own research.

  • The RWC is the 3rd biggest global sporting event after the Olympics and Football World Cup
  • In Single sport events only the football world cup has a bigger paying number attending
  • 95 Countries have been involved in 2015 RWC. Rugby is now played in 119 countries, supporting an estimated 6.6m players worldwide
  • The sport is the national game for many of these countries, Fiji, Samoa etc in context Samoa – Population 190,372 (Salford 218, 000) Fiji – Population 881,065 (Manchester 2.6M) – New Zealand 4.5M (North West England 7M)
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 is expected to attract around 466,000 foreign visitors to Britain
  • Visitor spend on matches and visiting tourist attractions of approx £869M
  • Investment in infrastructure for the Tournament is around £85 million, bringing lasting benefits to the Host Cities
  • In total, Rugby World Cup 2015 is expected to deliver £2.2 billion in output to the economy, translating into an additional £982 million of value added to Britain’s GDP
  • The number of jobs created approx 41,000
  • Global TV audience is estimated to be 800Million – 1.2 Billion
  • In the first two weeks of the tournament almost a million people attended matches

If your business is in one of the host cities for the RWC has it benefited? If not maybe you should be asking why and look at your marketing plan as there are some pretty impressive statistics in that list.

Regardless of England being the first host nation who have failed to get out of the group stages the International Rugby Board (IRB) can claim with confidence that the RWC has lived up to expectations both on and off the pitch.

The marketing has been superb and creative. The use of worldwide local rugby clubs and celebrities from different industries to tell stories to enhance the experience before matches has been masterful. As has taking the sport from it’s traditional southern heartland and bringing it north. Also the connections with local communities to engage them in health initiatives and the support for local businesses looks like it will bring lasting rewards.

It’s also helped that their has been some fantastic moments on the pitch. Are their negatives of course their are. Here are a few.

  • Tickets are extremely expensive and freeze out those on lower incomes
  • Not enough matches have been played north of the M25
  • Many foreigners have been dismayed by the lack of public transport co-ordination – although it did get
  • Some games should have been played at larger stadiums
  • Did the head coach pick the right team – that one will run and run

The IRB has been working on those and other issues as the tournament has progressed and managed to resolve some of them. Others will be worked on post world cup and it will remain to be seen if the team make an impact in the next 6 nations competition.

So what can business learn from this if anything?

First that planning is everything and even then things won’t go to plan and you have to be flexible and fast enough to implement fixes on the fly. Even if they are temporary and held together with sticking plaster.

Second your marketing and communication has to create a buzz around the event. So that even those who don’t necessarily want to partake at least take notice and remember your product/service/name.

Third create a spectacle for your product/service/event. Make it memorable. Enlist local celebrates to endorse you.

Finally when the event is over whether it was successful or not go through the steps and see what worked and what didn’t and why. This will give you great base information to use for future events.

So what was the result of the Sportszone question “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?” arguing the yes case were rugby union supporters Lewis Hughes and I. In the no corner were football supporter Colin James and Rugby League supporter Rob Parkinson.

We had a lively and interesting debate but didn’t persuade Colin and Rob to become RU supporters. But they agreed it was a spectacle and that it has so far been a success and Colin even went to a game. So you can persuade people to become customers if only for a specific event or promotion.

If that’s left you feeling nostalgic here’s a couple of videos from the world cup to sing your heart out too.

Ella Eyre–Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Paloma Faith – The World in Union

Sportszone – Discussion “ The Rugby World Cup. Does it matter?”


Performance and Culture – Can business learn from a state school?

The last two weeks has seen triumph and tears for our national Rugby League and Rugby Union teams. But for me and my former school it has been a week of joy and jubilation. What has been achieved in the sporting arena you would expect a public school may accomplish once in its lifetime? The Last two weekends saw six former students from the state school step out onto the pitch to represent their country three in each code.

But it’s not just in the sporting arena that St John Fisher RC High School excels, it constantly exceeds local and national targets for hard subjects such as Maths and English.  As it does for “added value” which means helping students exceed their predicated grades. The school also excels in its role as a Leading Edge School and Performing Arts College.

So how does it do this? Well to understand that I need to take you on a short historical tour. St John Fisher is in Wigan which many have said is the world centre for Rugby League and the school along with several others in the town have fed professional rugby league teams for 70 odd years and in later years Rugby Union teams.

I left the School in 1974 and there was a very supportive ethos no matter what your ability or what the subject. My children attended the school in the 90’s and early 00’s and I joined the PTA and then became a governor in 2005. The same ethos was still there and it is there today.

When I joined the PTA in 2002 there were still teaching staff who had taught me passing the school ethos on to a new generation of teaching staff. The school attracts high performing teachers who want to support students to fulfil their potential. They stay because they have a commitment to the school its students and the ethos in return the school supports them and their development.

The school has an expectation that teachers, support staff, parents, students, governors the PTA and wider community all share. Along with the performance expectations there are high levels of respect and communication. The desire to succeed has been honed within the schools culture over generations.

In business good cultures built up over years are often lost as organisations downsize quickly. In the case of the public sector several years of job losses and cuts to services and pay have also taken their toll on employee motivation.  Many organisations are facing an uphill struggle to motivate staff and increase performance whilst trying to re-establish a new culture.

Is there a lesson to be learnt here that whilst cutting quickly in several areas simultaneously may save on the bottom line now. Do organisations pay for that in following years with low levels of performance, high turnover and sickness rates and lack of direction? Which in turn can lead to poor customer service, loss of customers a decrease in profitability and loss of reputation. Food for thought indeed.

Finally congratulations to England in their win over France in which our former pupils played a pivotal role. This coming Thursday 21st November I am looking forward to attending St John Fisher’s annual awards ceremony which will be a wonderful celebration of what our students have achieved. They all have the “Fisher Factor” thanks to the positive culture and ethos maintained by dedicated staff,