Instant Case Study: 2014 Six Nations Re-play of “Le Crunch” Offers Operations and PR Lessons

Soldier Field in Chicago will host the Eagles vs All Blacks match on Nov. 1

Soldier Field in Chicago will host the Eagles vs All Blacks match on Nov. 1

By Baron Christopher Hanson – Le Crunch. It is the often-electrifying opening Six Nations match between England and France each year.

Produced by BBC Sport, the Feb 1 2014 broadcast was particularly special for a number of reasons, which even included the mighty Led Zeppelin welcoming viewers into the gorgeous honor and international atmosphere that can only be the sport of rugby.

Thankfully, a replay of the entire 2.5 hour match broadcast is complimentary via YouTube  which is a treat to view in the USA.

Clearly an expensive undertaking justified by the scale of rugby fandom in London and Paris, the BBC broadcast of Le Crunch serves as instant case study for advanced rugby operations, marketing, and PR brilliance to analyze closely and implement incrementally.

From the very first frames until the final whistle, the quality of video production; the music, sound, and graphics; the vernacular of the TV announcers; the planned interviews with present and past coaches, the replays of the best Le Crunch tries, the locker room walkouts and national anthems, and the filming of the match is a collective work of art.

As the camera spans around the stadium, into media booths, and along the pitch sidelines, camera shots offer operations and PR lessons to observe, benchmark, and strive to produce stateside.

If you pay close attention to the theme of the evening, it becomes clear that both England and France are striving to introduce many new players that mainstream EU fans might not know as well. By the end of the match the narration, replay quality, and zoom lenses give viewers a thorough introduction of all players and replacements.

What if US high school, college, and local RFC players could see themselves on replay, analyze their own match performances afterwards, or present the video footage as a playing resume?

Obviously video and editing and microphones are not free, and RFCs seldom have funds for local media exposure. This is why a more comprehensive PR strategy and operations budget is needed in each local USA rugby market.

Filming A) home matches, B) away and tour matches, and C) multi-team tournament matches are the three general recording opportunities that RFC leadership and event organizers must include in their priorities and punch lists going forward.

  • How can your RFC film and edit your rugby matches and tournaments cost-effectively?
  • How can your RFC invite “old boys and girls” back to comment on TV or submit local articles?
  • How can your RFC convince local media and sports TV venues to air your rugby highlights or match footage?
  • How can your RFC partner with a local marketing, media production, and PR agency in a mutually profitable way?

The good news is that USA Rugby has embraced this philosophy well in recent years, dramatically improving broadcasting quality and exposure channels.

“Off the field, USA Rugby has continued to increase exposure with broadcast partners such as NBC, ESPN, and Universal Sports,” states Kevin Roberts chairman of USA Rugby.

Last year, USA Rugby hit a home run with their WORK FOR IT campaign and website  which includes their strategic plan and literature from the home office and board leaders (must read), along with stellar video material to share online to excite new players and fans.

“Our events program has continued to grow with increased broadcast and media presence, increased sponsorship, and record crowds,” states Nigel Melville, CEO of USA Rugby.

With Scotland, Japan, Canada, and the mighty New Zealand All Blacks coming to the USA in 2014, the match results captured on film will be another case study to consider locally and nationally, as more record crowds turn-up wherever the USA Eagles are playing.

What does your rugby club do to market the team and sport in your region?  How can individual clubs and USA Rugby work to better promote the game to see it continue to grow in the U.S.  When will rugby become one of the ‘big’ sports in the U.S.?

baron-hansonSMALLBaron Christopher Hanson is the principal of RedBaron Advisors, a growth, strategy, marketing, and PR firm based in Charleston, SC and Palm Beach, FL. A Harvard graduate, former #8, and Porsche restorer, the “RedBaron” can be reached via RedBaronUSA.com or 843-641-0331.

  • Frank

    Great Article! BGSU Men’s Rugby has been making a huge marketing and PR push to the campus and local community and we have had great turnouts for big home games and the National Tourney. We have used Posters schedules and handouts for game day, participate in community and campus events to get our name out there, go on Campus TV explaining the game, use campus news papers, and contact and socialize with other campus organizations. We also manage to make a highlight tape for the fall season. All this has made us THOUSANDS of Dollars in ticket and gear sales! seriously, this thing can work.

  • petnzme

    That piddly little camera that films the game from the half way that has trouble focusing that gets loaded on to Youtube..is just the greatest taste of what’s going on in rugby in America. I love it for its amateurish look…You get this taste of who’s playing (club or university wise) where.

    Then they graduate to two cameras and sound which is such a hilarious thing to hear the fans of maybe 20 people screaming their lungs out. With some dude on microphone calling scores.

    I love the fact I can go online and watch guys playing live games thousand of kilometers away and 15 minutes later be watching a game down the road.

    It’s a beautiful thing..all the best to american and future of rugby

  • Michelle

    Great article and thought provoking questions Baron!

    When I played rugby in college we taped all of our games, and our coaches would watch them, and sometimes we would watch part of a game as a team, and we made highlight videos at the end of each season.

    I really believe that a strong PR and marketing strategy is really important to growing a club and it’s success.

    Especially keeping an updated website, sending out a quarterly newsletter, current match schedule, score updates on Twitter, photos on Facebook, etc. All of this is important for keeping alumni, parents, fans, and supporters updated and connected with the team.