Women's Six Nations
PAU, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 02: Sarah Hunter of England leads her team out prior to the Women's Six Nations Tournament match between France and England on February 02, 2020 in Pau, France. (Photo by Naomi Baker - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

As the women’s Six Nations fights alongside the men’s and U20s for a spot in the rugby calendar shoddy scheduling and poor commercialism have driven it to [some would say] a fate less admired than it’s male equivalent. 

As the Women compete for the prestigious Six Nations title, factors are seemingly against it being more widely popular product. Aside from the football on the field, the organizers and stakeholders need to take a good look at the championship.

Robert Rees delves into the women’s competition.

Leave it to have ‘its own’ identity

The women’s competition is going to be different from the men’s in terms of the product supplied when you consider that most of its participants aren’t full-time professionals. In fact, only England and France have a true chance of consistent success.

Scheduling issues have left clashes so fans may only watch one game at a time unless they furiously hunt down multiple screens and keep subconscious attention on both matches.

  • One major drawback in exposure when compared to the men’s tournament.
  • Another flaw is the lack of commercial opportunities taken. There is no title sponsor, Guinness backing the men’s campaign.

Get key people on board and the product is not only visible but, improved. The money earned by a title sponsor could help unions pay a little extra for the women to book time off work – for the nations without professionals – and that’ll ensure more cohesion and a faster, more fluid product for the public to watch.

Women’s product is definitely valuable

The women’s football World Cup proved to the world how commercial women’s sport can be, even in a predominantly male-dominated sport.

Over 264 million people watched that sport’s World Cup final. And whilst we aren’t talking about those high-end figures in this game’s scenario, we are talking about a chance to break that seven-figure barrier.

Multiply this over three weekly games, rather than splitting a crowd over three games and you have an audience that broadcasters can bid for. The RFU currently sees its women’s rugby broadcast deal packaged in with the Championship and autumn internationals.

When this is re-negotiated it is hoped the Championship will be separated and it could well prove to be the case with the women’s rugby. Sky Sport may well retain English rights, but let them cover each game; S4C with Welsh commentary rights, TG4/Eir can get Irish coverage, BeIn with French commentary rights.

That’s a niche bundle and one that could prove more prosperous than the current product.

No title sponsor not an endorsement of Women’s Six Nations

Guinness, for example, could come on board and add some much-needed stability. There isn’t suitable leadership in the women’s international game, see the point regarding scheduling as a citation!

Not only does it bring extra cash, directly and indirectly, but it promotes and expands the game. Something no one can begrudge. The women’s game doesn’t want to be shadowing the men’s and this is a perfect time to split the two competitions.

Women’s sport is on a rapid rise in attendance, viewing figures and participation and rugby needs to pounce. The timing is right and let it create its own brand of unique, open and physical rugby, without the need for fans to compare to the male game.

The women’s Six Nations needs extra leadership and accountability, and they need to create this before the ship leaves port.

 

“Main photo credit”

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