|Strength In Numbers|
‘Strength in Numbers’ is a new Connacht Rugby campaign which was borne out of a need to collate the 28 underage, collegiate and senior clubs which can be found across the province, and to attract a new generation of players, supporters, and sponsors.
By late 2013 it was felt that the development and promotion of the women’s game within the province had reached a critical stage. The traditional remit of the Connacht Women’s Committee had been to promote the interprovincial squad’s annual tournament, and its AIL clubs which until recently numbered only one. However, with the frantic growth of women’s and girls’ rugby in Connacht, a new promotional template was needed.
In particular, it was felt that all local remedies available to the committee had been exhausted and that a new approach was needed to (a) streamline resources and information that was available and (b) to initiate a short-term scheme which will educate on how to better promote our sport in the long run.
It was decided that a heavy injection of support in terms of creating marketing and PR opportunities for a finite period and, more importantly, the establishment of a new network of communication within this ever-growing community, would achieve this.
Following on from contributions received after a request from the committee asking those involved in the women’s game to describe what rugby means to them, the theme ‘Strength in Numbers’ was formed and aptly reflects where Connacht Women’s rugby is at present, and where it wants to go.
The campaign had its launch at the Connacht v Treviso Rabo Direct Pro-12 fixture in March 2014. This date was specifically chosen to coincide with International Women’s Day and Ireland’s historic debut appearance at the Aviva stadium, both of which take place the following weekend.
Through the generation of a community amongst all women’s and girls’ teams in the province, the campaign will increase exposure of the female game, introducing members of the public to it thereby securing more recruits and perhaps even new clubs for future seasons.
Overall, the aim of Strength in Numbers is to sustain the promotion of the women’s and girls’ game in the province throughout 2014, while helping to facilitate the promotional work carried out by clubs and their teams so that they will be stronger in that regard by the end of the year.
Only together can we maintain the development of our game, and succeed exponentially.
1. Promote our role models
The success of rugby within the province, particularly our growing band of international caps, is an accessible source of potential role models, unknown for the most part to the wider Connacht public, and a resource which every recruitment campaign needs to succeed long term.
However, role models need not wear their national colours to influence and inspire. As part of Strength in Numbers, testimonials and profiles will be completed on players who have come from various sporting backgrounds which may entice players who are thinking of retiring or who are bored of their first sports to try rugby.
This remit gives the campaign a great opportunity to focus on different aspects of the women’s game, such as volunteers, coaches, officials, as well as players. This aspect will also highlight the many opportunities available to women involved in the game that many may not be aware of.
2. Improve our website
The Connacht Rugby website’s women’s section will become the main tool in terms of first contact points for potential players and clubs, and is currently undergoing much needed improvements.
Changing from its current news-based format it will, in accessible sections, provide essential information for current and prospective players, coaches, volunteers, and supporters.
In tandem with the Committee’s new focus on promotion, it will provide information on interprovincial squad members, club player profiles, volunteer opportunities, as well as collating a history of women’s rugby in the province.
Overall, it will provide information that was not usually readily available to interested parties, but which is incredibly valuable for potential players and volunteers. This includes testimonials from past/current players and coaches, officials, clubs with new women’s teams, junior and senior, which explain the benefit of having such players.
The website redesign will be completed by July 2014.
3. Social Media
The Connacht Women’s Rugby Facebook page has been invigorated of late. While it has traditionally been used to post details about interprovincial training and fixtures, it now posts news items and results for each team within the province, and has also been used as a tool to communicate and collaborate with the teams.
However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and the committee will continue to seek innovative means to increase traffic, support, and discussion using this resource.
4. Collaboration with clubs
This is vital as a new PR strategy cannot be conducted successfully by a committee member, or the committee alone, as was traditionally the modus operandi. It needs to be supported and fed by the clubs/ players/ coaches the branch serves. A new collective effort to promote our sport is the central aim of this point, and the campaign in general.
It is requested that each club, if it does not already have one, nominate a member (PRO, manager) associated with its senior / underage team to keep in regular contact with the committee/campaign designee in terms of news, events, results, possible stories, achievements, photos, videos, sponsorship deals etc. The committee will, in collaboration with Connacht Rugby, edit (or write if needs be) and disseminate the items via teh branch’s media channels.
Promoting teams is a vital function of clubs, and with a ‘nerve-system’ coordinated by the committee, all aspects of the women’s and girls’ game in Connacht can be promoted centrally and to a bigger audience.