Stella Mills: Separate promotion in women’s rugby isn’t a bad thing - Ruck

Stella Mills: Separate promotion in women’s rugby isn’t a bad thing

When it comes to promotion of a men’s and women’s rugby teams, many clubs, from the grassroots upwards are divided on the topic of joint promotion. 

With the TikTok Women’s Six Nation’s now being in a separate standalone window, and with huge media coverage gains made from the tournament, it got me thinking about promotion of women’s rugby, and what the best way forwards would be in terms of social media accounts. 

In my experience, there is often a heavy focus on a “one club” mantra on the surface, but when you scratch beyond this, women’s teams are often an afterthought when it comes to promotion on main club’s pages. To be clear here, I am referencing my own experiences as captain of a local grassroots team, although arguably the same could be said with other levels too. 

In setting out to write this article, my initial gut feeling was leaning towards the separate promotion of women’s rugby, with separate stand-alone accounts. 

In theory, you are pushing two different products to two different audiences, and that shouldn’t be seen as a negative, if anything it should be celebrated.

By giving women’s teams their own social media pages, you are giving women’s rugby its own identity. We have already seen, thanks to insights from The Space Between, that women’s sports fans consume content in a different way, so why would you lump the two together, surely it doesn’t make sense? 

I would also argue that you can still push a one club mantra through separate accounts and ride the wave of a bigger men’s fan base pushing the women’s content.

Also, something I have picked up on and wanted to address here is every men’s rugby fan doesn’t necessarily have to be converted into a women’s rugby fan, and vice versa. I openly put my hands up to say that I follow women’s rugby more than I do men’s, and don’t watch men’s that often. 

I had an exchange over social media with an individual who explained he wasn’t interested in watching women’s rugby, but followed men’s. And that’s fine. We don’t have to beg for fans in places that we shouldn’t be, the increased consumption and coverage of the Tiktok Women’s Six Nation’s is proving the audience base to this sport is growing, and its coming from plenty of different sources. 

Also, with a joint account informational updates can get slightly messy on game days. If you start to flood fans with updates from teams they don’t follow, they soon loose interest. 

A suggestion that did turn my head came from The 2nd Row on Twitter, suggesting that if a joint account where to be put in place you should implement a social media manager for the men’s section, and for the women’s. 

Looking deeper into a joint promotion account that is working wonders for the growth of the women’s game, its hard to overlook the Army Rugby Union page. The content that comes out is a fair balance between men’s and women’s and is exceptionally high in quality too, with a good mixture of factual game day information and story telling in the build up to fixtures. 

The common factor in all of this is, as with most things in women’s sport, resources. To run a joint social media account which is promoting both the men’s and women’s teams you would need double the resources, as The 2nd Row suggested above. Also, some serious thought has to be pu into the equality behind posts, to ensure the women’s team isn’t drowned out, as is often the case. 

Another point to consider is recruitment, especially at a grassroots level its essential for young girls to see and understand they have a place in their local club. Rugby is not a natural sport for girls to play, we still have some huge barriers to overcome in terms of normalising it and moving it away from a male dominated space. Therefore, a dedicated women’s page to me seems like a healthy recruitment tool for grassroots clubs. 

Which ever decision a club lands on, its one that needs careful consideration and management. Social media is arguably your club’s modern day shop window, it’s the first thing fans and prospective players will see, and we all know how important first impressions are.  

%d bloggers like this: