DRIVING 18-35+ LAPSED RUGBY PLAYERS OFF THE SOFA AND BACK ON TO THE PITCH
England Rugby wanted to leverage the excitement of the Rugby World Cup to drive recruitment and engagement with their training sessions nationwide. Having spoken to lapsed players to understand their feelings about playing rugby again, we identified that the most important element missed by ex-players was the nostalgia and camaraderie of being part of a team. These links, although now weaker, were still expressed in Facebook groups where they continued to share sports content, bravado and banter. We realised that if we could reignite the connectivity between the players, we could change the behaviours of the loosely knit group and get players to “Return to Rugby”.
Returning for a second year, the campaign needed to step it up a gear whilst keeping camaraderie at the heart of the activation. Playing on the atypical nature of the rugby brotherhood and traditional locker room banter, we partnered with Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly and England superstar, James Haskell to create a disruptive content series. With the new series of Trigger Happy TV due to air later in the season, we reworked one of Dom Joly’s most popular sketches, creating a series of gonzo style videos featuring the comedian and his “squirrel squad” tackling unsuspecting lapsed players across England and getting them back into the game. The England Flanker was at his peak after a starring role in the Australia Series win. This combined with his heightened social media presence and growing online persona, made him the perfect fit for the starring role in the squirrel squad.
Over two years, the campaign encouraged 5,300 lapsed players to re-join the programme, with 100 grassroots clubs engaged and an 86% conversion rate of signups in Y2.