Rugby World Cup engagement

Almost 14 million Brits intend to watch the Rugby World Cup this year
28 April 2023
Rugby worldcup
James Powell

Senior Marketing Manager, Media Division, UK & Ireland

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This year’s Rugby World Cup in France is coming up in September and it promises to be a must-see event for millions of British consumers – making it equally compelling for many marketers seeking to engage what can be a very valuable audience of rugby enthusiasts.

Latest TGI monthly data out this month shows that 26% of adults (13.6 million people) say they plan to watch the 2023 Rugby World Cup. This is considerably more than the proportion who claim to have an interest generally in rugby union (12%).

The majority of those who plan to watch the Rugby World Cup have a special place in their heart for the culture around rugby as a sport. 59% of them believe that rugby is more inclusive and welcoming compared to other sports – this compares to 25% of adults generally. However, 26% of those planning to watch the Rugby World Cup believe that rugby is an elitist sport – significantly more than the 16% of adults generally who agree with this.

Some may feel that the notion of elitism in rugby comes from the sport’s reputation as a game appealing particularly to men in higher socio-economic groups. TGI data reveals that there is some truth in this. Those with an interest in rugby union are significantly more likely than the average adult to be in the top (AB) social grades, have a family income of £75,000 or more and to be male. However, if we look at those intending to watch the Rugby World Cup, they are not significantly more likely to be any of these things, with the exception of being male.

Rugby worldcup

Perhaps little wonder that a sport with a following particularly likely to be relatively well off attracts premium brand sponsors for its showpiece events. Indeed, among sponsors for the Rugby World Cup are the Land Rover Defender and Emirates airlines.

Those who plan to follow the Rugby World Cup are particularly likely to engage with brands sponsoring the sport – even compared to other rugby fans. They are also more likely to take the view that sporting events should be sponsored by healthier brands.

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When it comes to engaging these Rugby World Cup fans with the optimal media mix, TGI reveals that they are particularly likely compared to the average adult to be heavy consumers of a range of media. Newspapers, radio and reading news online are especially prominent for these fans.

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