The IRFU has revealed a new season calendar for women’s rugby with a fresh look and feel for the sport as it emerges from the aftermath of COVID 19 with a focus on the continued growth of participation, development and profile of the game, through the celebration of rugby’s unique position as a game for all.
With a packed calendar of events, from Give It Try, which grows participation among younger players, to the Vodafone Senior Women’s Interprovincial Championship, the Energia All Ireland League and a packed international calendar across sevens and fifteens squads, 2021/22 is set to be the busiest season to date for women’s rugby.
To elevate the women’s game throughout the year a new communications and marketing campaign, #NothingLikeIt, will support all IRFU women’s programmes and initiatives to bring an exciting, vibrant and focused approach to how the game is presented, across coaching, volunteering and playing.
Developed with Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive and one of Ireland’s leading creative agencies, #NothingLikeIt will celebrate and amplify the moments, stories and people that make women’s rugby unique, while highlighting that there is a place for everyone in rugby, where difference is celebrated as an important part of the team collective.
To mark the new season and launch the #NothingLikeIt creative campaign Ireland Captains Ciara Griffin and Lucy Mulhall deliver a manifesto for the women’s game, inspired by the research and feedback from those who love, play and develop the game. The stirring video outlines how when it comes to being involved in rugby there really is #NothingLikeIt.
Discussing the domestic game element of the season plan, Amanda Greensmith, IRFU Women’s Rugby Development Manager said,
“It is fitting that as we all emerge from COVID-19, which had such a devastating impact on all sports, that we look forward to the return of an action-packed season, where there really is something for everyone that has space in their life to make more friends, have more fun and get fitter while doing it.
“Pre-Covid, our female domestic game programme was growing strongly with over 2,000 registered players, and with the new season, new promotional campaign and messaging we not only want to get all those people back, we want to demonstrate the warm welcome rugby has, to attract even more women and girls.
“We are delighted that Give It a Try will be the first campaign to get the #NothingLikeIt treatment as 86 clubs signed up to the programme this year. We are also really pleased to be planning for the Vodafone Interpros. We didn’t get to complete the Interpros, for obvious reasons in 2020, so we are delighted to once again welcome them as title sponsor.”
Covering a busy year for the international teams, IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby Anthony Eddy, said, “Over the years we have seen support and interest in the women’s international teams grow strongly, and that support is vital to the development of the game. We have a big year ahead in the women’s programme with Rugby World Cup opportunities for both the fifteen and sevens teams.
“As always, we want to remain competitive in our regular international competitions across the Sevens World Series and the Six Nations.
“We are all pulling in the same direction, which is to get more girls active and playing rugby by providing accessibility to the game and also regular competition, and it will be exciting to see the national players deliver #NothingLikeIt moments across the year.”
Touching on the new communications and marketing programme, Communications Director Stephen McNamara, said, “We worked for many months with Rothco on the development of a new platform and look and feel for our women’s programme, and then had to put it on the back burner due to Covid. However, a new season offers new opportunities which will be filled with #NothingLikeIt moments. We hope that this work can lift the women’s game to the next level.”
Fiona Sweeney from the IRFU Commercial and Marketing Committee, who was instrumental in the development of the work, added,
“Based on Rothco’s research, which included interviews with players, coaches and volunteers the area that really stood out was that rugby had so many unique features that people love, the phrase ‘nothing like it’ came up again and again, so we made it the central point of a new campaign that will showcase all things women’s rugby in the months and years to come.”
Adam Crane, Creative Director at Rothco gives us a little more insight into the creative idea;
“For the team at Rothco, we were very happy to work on an important piece of work. The Women’s game is going from strength to strength in this country, but this piece of work recognises the need to recruit more female players at youth level for a sustainable future.
There’s great team spirit in rugby and unlike many other sports, a position to suit players with different abilities. It was important for the creative answer to have visual standout, youthful appeal and to ultimately make rugby a strong option to consider for young female players.”