This past weekend, USA Rugby played one of its final tests ahead of next month’s World Cup versus Rugby Canada, trouncing the Canadians 41-23. The match saw hundreds of tweets mention #USARugby, a good portion of which zeroed in on the result, including this quippish one:
— American Rugby Pod (@AmericaRugbyPod) August 23, 2015
The victory came a month after The Wall Street Journal broke news of the launch of Rugby International Marketing (RIM), a joint effort from USA Rugby and England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU).
According to a press release from the RFU, RIM “is the new commercial arm of USA Rugby, representing its commercial rights but also exploring new revenue streams to support the development of rugby in the USA.”
The major feature is the digital channel that will form its backbone, offering 24/7 rugby coverage, meant to help fulfill USA Rugby’s aim of making rugby more visible across the country.
News of RIM’s launch ━ which MediaMiser’s analysis software found was covered by 30-plus news outlets, including Yahoo! News and the aforementioned Wall Street Journal ━ comes at a time when both USA Rugby and the sport itself are experiencing significant growth.
In the five years through 2013, according to a study from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, participation among players six years old and up increased by 81 per cent, making it the fastest-growing team sport in the country (football participation fell 21.1 per cent over the same period.) Consider too that the Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 18, and the RIM announcement makes that much more sense.
USA Rugby finds itself in an enviable position right now: the sport’s popularity is surging, it is launching what is primed to be a successful revenue-producing and marketing subsidiary, and its national men’s team is rounding into form at exactly the right time. All that’s left is to wait and see what comes of it all.
The Rugby World Cup is 25 days away.