Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Scottish Rugby Union


  1.  On 6 November 2000 the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) received a request from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons seeking written evidence with regard to the impact of the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Scotland. Specific areas on which evidence was requested included:

    —  The impact of the marketing and ticketing strategy for the World Cup;

    —  The impact on the spectator base for rugby in Scotland of the World Cup;

    —  The impact on participation in rugby of the World Cup; and

    —  The economic impact of the World Cup.


Tournament Hosts

  2.  The 1999 Rugby World Cup was hosted by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), with the primary contracts in relation to the staging of the event being between the WRU and the International Rugby Board, Rugby World Cup and their subsidiaries. This represented a change from the only previous occasion the tournament has been played in the UK (1991) where the Five Nations Unions (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France) had co-host status.

  3.  This response therefore, specifically does not cover the detailed commercial relationship between the WRU and IRB/RWC, the SRU not being a party to these arrangements. It has been assumed for the purpose of this response that the Committee will seek any such information it considers necessary direct from the WRU.

  4.  The SRU would, however, note that the IRB/RWC produced a detailed report on the 1999 Rugby World Cup for the Committee's information (a copy can be forwarded on request).

Involvement of the SRU in RWC 1999

  5.  Whilst the WRU were appointed as host for the 1999 tournament it was recognised that in order to maximise the commercial and promotional benefits arising from the tournament the actual matches to be played would be spread, as in 1991, throughout the Five Nations. It was therefore, agreed that the Welsh Rugby Union would enter into a "sub-host" agreement with the Unions in Scotland, England, Ireland and France. In effect this agreement offered each of these Unions an opportunity to host certain matches within the tournament, with the costs and revenues (as governed by the WRU's agreement with IRB/RWC) of these matches being aggregated and divided on an equal basis amongst the five Unions.

  6.  On this basis the SRU was allocated one of five tournament pools of four nations (South Africa, Scotland, Spain and Uruguay) together with a Quarter-Final Play Off and Quarter Final Fixture, being 8 fixtures in total. Six of these fixtures were played at Murrayfield, one at Hampden Park and one at Netherdale (Galashiels).

  7.  At the conclusion of the tournament the SRU submitted a detailed report to the WRU and IRB covering all aspects of RWC 1999 in Scotland. Whilst much of this report has little relevance to the Committee's current investigation it has, where applicable, been used as the basis for the SRU's responses to the request for information.



  8.  The 1999 Rugby World Cup represented a significant opportunity to raise the profile of rugby within Scotland. At the outset it was recognised that the tournament's marketing impact would be achieved through four distinct channels:

    —  Generic RWC tournament marketing;

    —  Ticket orientated specific sales marketing;

    —  Sponsors support marketing; and

    —  TV support marketing.

Generic RWC Tournament Marketing

  9.  The level of generic RWC marketing of the tournament—by which is meant the centralised campaign to raise public awareness—was perceived by the SRU to be poor. In its post tournament review the SRU identified:

    —  a failure by the host Unions to formulate a collective strategy for this area at an early enough stage;

    —  an over-reliance on the pre-tournament awareness with further awareness anticipated from the tournament broadcaster which in Scotland was poor;

    —  problems induced by the split between the marketing operations of the RWC commercial programme (which reported to IRB/RWC) and the host Union/sub host Union programme; and

    —  sponsors had agreed to work with the Edinburgh City Council to create a real RWC presence in the City but this was not delivered. The SRU wished to deal with this aspect and with the benefit of hindsight, should have done so and not left it to the Commercial programme and its Sponsors.

  10.  It is undoubtedly the case that these failings led to a relatively patchy awareness of the tournament throughout the five hosting countries, leading to criticism that the event was too widespread, etc. The Host Unions certainly suffered from a lack of the right calibre of marketing expertise in the planning stages. Notably, the SRU has subsequently invested in a top level, well qualified Marketing Director whose appointment has already proven the point. Any future planning of such an event must be marketing driven and planned by the Host Union(s) not just the organisation appointed to run the Commercial programme.

Ticket orientated sales marketing

  11.  Each of the hosting Unions was granted a ticket sales related marketing budget by the WRU, these budgets being determined based on the profile of the games to be hosted by each Union. The SRU considered that this was an equitable basis on which to allocate available funds, and that the overall sum allocated to Scotland was fair. The SRU did, however, comment adversely on the relatively late quantification of the amount available for this purpose which led to a number of planning and implementation problems.

Sponsors support marketing

  12.  RWC 1999 was supported by a number of major international companies who each made a major financial contribution to IRB/RWC in relation to their sponsorships. In addition to the sponsorship monies that each company paid over directly to IRB/RWC, each sponsor undertook its own product related marketing campaign during the period of the tournament. It is believed that in each case the sponsor company's own marketing support program one exceeded the actual value of the sponsorship paid to the IRB/RWC.

  13.  Whilst recognising that each of the sponsors had their own valid objectives in relation to their promotional expenditure, the SRU believe that the division of the commercial programme from the host Unions operational responsibilities led to a degree of disfunctionality in this area eg one sponsor ran a very successful "armchair supporter" campaign during the tournament, which increased the volume of their products sales but which had the effect of discouraging attendance at matches.

TV support marketing

  14.  The television broadcast contracts for the tournament were the responsibility of the IRB/RWC. Despite being covered by a commercial broadcaster, the level of slots promoting the tournament in Scotland was disappointingly low. Be believe that this was not experienced to the same extent in other host countries.


  15.  Research had been undertaken giving indicators as to the numbers travelling to the British Isles and France for the RWC (only available centrally ie from IRB/RWC) from the principal rugby playing countries and RWC assumed a certain percentage would visit Scotland.

  Prices were set centrally with some perspective to each others' prices. These prices were determined before teams were allocated to the regions. Scotland at the time expected to have Romania/Italy plus Tonga rather than Spain and Uruguay and, with no disrespect to the countries, determined prices based on a far more attractive group of teams.

  The commercial programme had indicated a requirement for 50 per cent of tickets from each stadium used in Scotland and in actuality they took hardly any for the minor games and on average less than 25 per cent of their proposed take for the higher profile games at Murrayfield. Pricing took into account the planned RWC uptake and Scotland able to sell at least 50 per cent of its stadium for Six Nations and Autumn internationals, accepted a higher pricing structure than for Six Nations. With such a low delivery from the commercial programme the SRU had to, very late in the day promote the games themselves but we believe encouraged 20,000 new people to attend Murrayfield, a positive factor that was lost in the negativity of the Press position of "less than full stadia". Pricing under the above outcome was high and open to public criticism.


  16.  In addition to the participation stated above the attendance at matches will be forwarded under separate cover as part of Appendix 1[13].

  The "message ball relay" carrying the match ball around the country holding participative events around Scotland had a huge effect, involving 18-19,000 youngsters between the age of eight and 12. To put this into perspective we only have 7,019 at this age level in clubs at the time. (See statistics attached[14]).

  17.  For the purpose of clarification, the SRU has for the past three years had returns sent in by every club in Scotland showing the numbers playing at each age level and non-playing membership, all as at 30 September each year. Despite a general malaise in sport and a decline in the other home countries' rugby participation in clubs, Scotland continues to grow, beating that trend. We call our statistics Accreditation Statistics (enclosed in an Excel file)[15]. RWC has had a very positive impact on that participation and indicators for end September 2000 (not yet complete) appear to show continued dynamic growth in grass roots participation.


  While no economic impact study was undertaken after the RWC on either the Scottish or Edinburgh economy, we understand that Edinburgh City Council keep impact information which you may be able to acquire. Based on a study done in Dublin of a Six Nations weekend, which generated between £12 million to £15 million (sterling) for the City we would estimate that a Six Nations game in Edinburgh would do likewise. With a lower balance of foreign visitors for RWC we estimate that the income to Edinburgh was £6 million to £8 million on average per game. With the proper marketing, planning and pricing this could become 50 per cent to 100 per cent better.

  In preparing this response the SRU would note that the time period available for drafting was relatively short and fell within a busy period of international fixtures. The SRU would be happy to provide such further detail as may be requested in order to enable the Committee to complete its report.

December 2000

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