In January 2022, TikTok announced its partnership with Six Nations Rugby, which included the Women’s Six Nations, Guinness Six Nations and Autumn Nations Series.
The fact the women’s tournament is mentioned first in the press release is no accident. Not only was this an important landmark in women’s rugby – it was the first time the Women’s Championship had a Title Partner – it also showed TikTok’s commitment to the women’s game.
I can’t imagine the traditional rugby fan is on TikTok. However, as a move to engage new and existing fans with rugby content, it’s a smart one.
TikTok promised ‘significant investment and promotional support’ but what did they actually do?
Firstly, they had to grow the rugby presence on the platform.
At the time of writing, the @womenssixnations account has more than 80,000 followers and 1.2m likes. This official feed shows highlights from the games, player interviews and shots of full stadia and excited fans.
They needed an easy hashtag for the event and to date, #tiktokw6n has had 167.4m views. This is where users have been creating and sharing content, providing a fan’s take on the Championship. And #womensrugby has received 213.9m views so, in terms of driving audience engagement with women’s rugby, I’d say they’ve done a pretty good job.
Then they did the traditional things brands do to ensure their name is seen and heard throughout the Tournament: a lock-up logo, branding on pitches, the creation of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations Player of the Championship / the Match / Round 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Just as I was beginning to worry they would follow the traditional route of sports sponsorship, they introduced their Rugby Creators – people who love rugby but who would appeal to a younger, more diverse audience. These Creators were heavily involved in their home games – they did the coin toss, brought out the match ball and presented the player of the match medals.
Welsh TikTok star Laura Orgill has 838,000 followers and is one of those Creators. Her videos across the Tournament regularly had more than 10,000 views with her most popular video from the Tournament being watched more than 184,000 times.
The players have got on board too. Welsh prop Cerys Hale and her teammates have fully embraced TikTok with this video, which has been watched more than 164,000 times.
It’s refreshing to see sports sponsorship being done in a very different way. The content is entertaining, informative and, perhaps most importantly for the new generation of rugby fans, short and easy to digest.
With record-breaking crowds attending the games and huge numbers watching on TV, I’m sure TikTok is looking forward to the next three years of its partnership with glee.