- O2, Rugby Football Union and Women’s Sport are collaborating to deliver a long-term study into the visibility of the England women’s rugby team ‘the Red Roses’
- The joint ambition is to use the data and insights to help close rugby’s gender awareness gap
- One of the key aims is to drive record match attendances for the Red Roses, with a target to fill Twickenham Stadium for the first time for a women’s international (82,000 fans)
- More than 40,000 tickets have already been sold for the Red Roses v France Women’s Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 29 April which could break the record for the largest ever attendance for a women’s rugby match
- Awareness of the Red Roses team has increased by more than 14% during the 2021 Rugby World Cup (Played in 2022)
O2, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Women’s Sport Trust (WST) have today announced an innovative collaboration that aims to use data and insight to help close rugby’s gender awareness gap.
The Women’s Sport Trust, founded in 2012 to raise the visibility and increase the impact of women’s sport, will provide the data and insights to inform the RFU and O2’s ambition to reduce the gender awareness gap.
Looking at key areas including visibility, demographics and social media trends, the charity will bring its expertise and research to help all parties build on the progress already made in women’s sport, and specifically women’s rugby.
The results and findings gathered throughout the partnership, will help influence and structure future campaigns and projects from all of the parties involved to ensure that they have the most impact possible.
O2, WST and the RFU are setting out to deliver against three clear ambitions:
- Close the awareness gap between the England Men’s team and the England Women’s rugby team ‘the Red Roses’
- Grow the Red Roses fan base
- Increase attendance to women’s rugby games and fill Twickenham Stadium
The project will begin ahead of the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations which sees the Red Roses play their first stand-alone game at Twickenham on Saturday 29th April against France.
With more than 40,000 tickets sold so far, the fixture provides a crucial steppingstone towards the ambition of a sold-out Twickenham by 2025 and could beat the current women’s rugby attendance world record of 42,579 set at Eden Park for the 2021 Rugby World Cup Final.
The partnership comes after O2 signed a landmark principal partner deal with England Rugby in 2020, committing to parity in marketing spend across the men’s and women’s teams.
This investment has already seen the commissioning of a two-part documentary, Wear the Rose: An England Rugby Dream, co-funded by O2 and the RFU, which aired on ITV last year (still available on ITV Hub).
Data has shown that those who watched the documentary, consumed an average of 68 minutes of action during the World Cup on linear TV, compared to 44 minutes for those who didn’t.
Live TV viewership of the men’s Guinness Six Nations is currently 10.8x the viewership of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations. However, new data from WST reveals that there are opportunities for rugby to reach new audiences through building visibility of the women’s game.
In 2022, around one million fans watched 3 minutes+ of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations live but didn’t watch any of the men’s Guinness Six Nations live.
Of that unique audience to women’s rugby union, there are also encouraging signs that the women’s game presents an opportunity to attract a more diverse audience to the sport;
- 9% of those who watched the Women’s Six Nations were Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, compared to 6% who watched both the men’s and women’s competition
- 21% of the audience who watched the Women’s Six Nations were aged 35 and under in comparison to 9% who watched both the men’s and women’s competition
However, there remains an opportunity for the game to have a greater connection with female audiences. 43% of the audiences who just watched the Women’s Six Nations were women yet 52% who only watched the Men’s Six Nations in 2022 were female.
Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “This exciting new partnership with the RFU and Women’s Sport Trust will enable us to combine our efforts in helping to drive awareness of women’s rugby throughout the UK. Through our partnership with England Rugby, we’ve committed to equally funding the men’s and women’s game and will continue to push to champion women’s rugby and the Red Roses.”
Alex Teasdale, RFU Women’s Game Director, said: “There has been significant growth in the women and girls’ game, as well as awareness of the Red Roses team, over recent years. However, through our ‘Every Rose’ strategy we have set ourselves ambitious targets to grow the women’s game even further and the insights we gather from this research will provide valuable understanding to aid us in driving the awareness forward.
We’re really pleased to be able to collaborate with England Rugby’s longest standing partner, O2, and leaders in driving change, Women’s Sport Trust, to collaborate in this research that will inform our collective ambition to accelerate the growth of the women and girls’ game.”
Tammy Parlour, CEO and co-founder of Women’s Sport Trust, said: “Our research into the visibility of women’s sport over the last few years has been key to proving its commercial value. We have seen an upwards trend across a number of areas such as the time spent watching women’s sport as well as the amount of women’s sport available to view. However, we know there is still work to be done, especially if we look at the difference to the men’s game.
“This is why we applaud both the RFU and O2 for their commitment to raising the visibility of the women’s game. We are looking forward to working together to understand how to drive greater awareness for the Red Roses in the build-up to and during the Rugby World Cup 2025, as well as how to ultimately reduce the gender gap in rugby union.”