As the pinnacle of international rugby, the Rugby World Cup 2023 will take place in France from 8 September to 28 October 2023 with matches played by 20 teams in nine venues across 10 host cities.

The tournament will be the 10th men’s Rugby World Cup and the second to be hosted by France after a memorable event in 2007. To add some extra poignancy, it will take place in a year when the sport celebrates 200 years since Rugby School pupil William Webb Ellis was credited with inventing the game of rugby football by showing “a fine disregard for the rules” in catching the ball and running with it in 1823.

For venues across the home nations, it represents an enormous opportunity to grow footfall, sales and profits with England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland all securing a place at this year’s showcase global tournament. With a total of 48 matches played across 51 days, the tournament presents back-to-back opportunities for venues to cash in and deliver winning performances in the run up to the all-important festive period.

SPORT SELLS 

For an indication of how important top-class sport can be to sales, it’s worth looking back at the much smaller Six Nations tournament.  According to data from CGA by NIQ, venues that showed live matches generated 28% more sales on matchdays than on the average equivalent day—double the 14% increase seen at non-sports venues. On the tournament’s opening weekend alone, total drinks sales in sports venues increased by an astonishing 38%.

The categories to benefit most were stout (up 85%), cask ales, world lager and cider while soft drinks also saw a spike of 15%, spirits were up 24% and wine grew by 15% across all matchdays.

CGA client director Paul Bolton commented: “The Six Nations was a reminder of the power of big sporting occasions to loosen people’s spending and encourage brand trial and loyalty.”

SPORT MEANS SPEND

According to Ipsos data from June 2022, 57% of pub-going sport viewers spend more when watching sport than when not.

According to BT Sport:

  • 85% of sports fans spend more on drinks when watching live sport
  • 76% would stop going to their local if they stopped showing live sport
  • 92% of sports fans said that showing live sport during the week positively influences their visit frequency to a pub.

 

PICKING WINNERS

With endless opportunities for heroics and intrigue on the pitch during the Rugby World Cup come extensive opportunities for boosting sales and profits – and it will pay to focus you and your team’s efforts on the products most likely to drive your business forward.

Fortunately, Greene King and Belhaven’s extensive portfolio of top-quality products and their long-standing and very deep links with rugby offers you the perfect platform to build on.

Premium British ale has long enjoyed a harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship with rugby and Greene King IPA is the perfect example. The brand was the Official Beer of England Rugby for eight consecutive years as well as being the title sponsor of the English
Championship for eight years.

That high-profile relationship with high-level rugby continues to this day through Greene King IPA’s official partnership with three Premiership clubs: Saracens, Newcastle and Gloucester.

Greene King IPA also supports grassroots rugby through its ground-breaking Proud To Pitch In initiative, as well as counting over 100 rugby clubs as Free Trade customers.

At 3.6% ABV, it’s the perfect session beer for your customers to enjoy during the Rugby World Cup – so make sure you keep it prominent in-venue in the coming months. To help you do just that, venues are currently being offered a free ‘Watch Rugby Here’ POS kit when they buy just 2x9G casks of Greene King IPA which will ensure that the brand is unmissable during the Rugby World Cup and help add theatre to drive interest and excitement around the tournament.

Similarly, the recently refreshed Belhaven Best has enjoyed a lengthy involvement with rugby and is a !rm favourite of many drinkers when it comes to spending a few hours in the pub watching the match.

With stout performing so well during the Six Nations, it could be the perfect time to add the fantastic quality, great-tasting and competitively priced Belhaven Black Stout to your offer. Following a recent brand refresh, Belhaven Black Stout offers a great way to tap into a growing demand for stout and one which is likely to be accelerated even further during the Rugby World Cup.

SCREEN TIME

Making the most of the Rugby World Cup relies, of course, on optimising your sports TV subscriptions in every way that you can. Greene King and Belhaven can help save up to 50% on your sports TV subscriptions which is step one in getting the best out of live sport.

But with a subscription in place, the next step is to avoid simply sticking a TV on in the corner and hoping people come in.

“The biggest battle publicans face isn’t other pubs showing live sports, it’s getting sports fans off their sofa at home,” according to Fanzo, the leading app that helps fans find venues showing live sports in their local area.

To do that, simply get hold of the full list of fixtures for the Rugby World Cup at the official website and highlight the fixtures most likely to
draw a crowd. With all of the Home Nations represented, you won’t be short of mouth-watering clashes while fixtures featuring teams like New Zealand and South Africa are also likely to prove popular.

 

AN EXPERIENCE YOU CAN’T GET AT HOME

With 48 fixtures during the tournament over 51 days, it’s vital you tell both existing and potential customers about them. In the past, you might have placed a chalkboard listing the games outside your bar but these days you’re far more likely to drive new footfall by reaching customers on their mobile phone. So it makes sense to list your fixtures on social media.

Then, when matchdays come, it’s time to deliver a quality experience. Flatscreen TVs and dropdown projectors are more affordable than ever so it’s cheaper now than ever before to offer the sort of high quality experience that will get customers off the sofa, away from their own TV and their cans of beer, to come to the pub for a great quality pint and an immersive, social experience. The key to winning this battle is to offer a superior experience to the one customers can get at home.

It’s wise to leave the commentary on and to consider zoning your venue to separate the rugby fans from the rest of your customers. You could also consider table bookings for part of your venue, insisting that customers claim their table at least 30 minutes before kick-off to avoid no-shows.

Whatever way you look at it, the Rugby World Cup offers endless chances to win over the next couple of months. Speak to your Greene King or Belhaven SDM to find out how they can help.