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TikTok Women's Six Nations: Scrolling into 2022

By Stella Mills
(Photo Illustration by Filip Radwanski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Yesterday morning news arrived that the Women’s Six Nations tournament officially broke its sponsorship virginity aligning with Tiktok to become the “TikTok Women’s Six Nations”. Although the finer details are yet to be announced around the competitions first title sponsorship, as a #Rugbytoker myself, I thought this would be a good time to introduce the masses to the app, the creators behind it and the sheer potential it has to grow the women’s game.

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What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform dedicated exclusively to short form video content. The app started out with a strong association to the younger generation but has since broadened its reach to a more age-diverse audience. Videos usually see people lip syncing popular sounds, which can be songs or lines taken from a film, to form entertaining videos.

Why could it be so important for growing the women’s game?

Ultimately, to reach new audiences you must meet them where they are. Rugby specific content on the app is growing, especially surrounding the women’s game. I myself, along with a range of other creators, make women’s rugby content that proves to be fairly popular with different age groups.

TikTok as a social media platform is unique in its ability to reach new audiences. Unlike Twitter or Instagram the platform pushes out content to a wide range of audiences through it’s ‘For You Page’, a seamless scroll of never-ending content that is addictive in nature.

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The platform is quick to learn the users’ likes and dislikes, showing videos that reflect this. For example, within a few hours of me setting up an account the algorithm had already cracked I was a rugby fan.

Also, the content that will come out of this partnership should be pivotal to growing the game. Highlight reels are key to attracting new audiences and peaking interest in women’s rugby. You only have to look over to USA rugby sevens player Ilona Maher’s viral content in the lead up to the Olympics to see proof of this.

@ilonamaher

All my respect to this player though #beastbeautybrains #rugby #rugger

? original sound – ???????

What do we know, or not know, about this partnership?

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Right now, the parameters of this partnership are unclear. It will be the first time the tournament has had an official title partner, which is a good sign. Questions have been put to the Six Nations regarding prize money and funding for women teams, and as such we are still waiting for clarification on this. Also, it is unclear if money has been ring-fenced for the women’s game, as this partnership extends over to the men’s tournament, Under 20s and the Autumn Nations Series.

What is clear, however, is that a global social media platform has seen the potential in the women’s game, making a bold commitment to support it for the next four years.

It’s not just internationals who use this platform, Exeter Chiefs player Charlie Willett is a frequent flyer, and has recently used it to draw attention to the game, and the funny quirks behind it. She demonstrates that the relatability of the platform is also a big draw, as audience members get access to creators in ways not previously possible with features such live streams, interactive comments, and DM’s.

Speaking exclusively to RugbyPass she said: “I always find with other social media platforms you are curating content to be perfect, whereas TikTok was the first platform I felt comfortable to share uncomfortable things like not getting picked for teams and being injured.”

@charlierugby_

TELLING COACH I’M READY TO PLAY…but I’m dating the physio ????? #CloseYourRings #rugbytok #rugby #womensrugby #rugbypass #rugbygirls

? We Don’t Talk About Bruno – Carolina Gaitán – La Gaita & Mauro Castillo & Adassa & Rhenzy Feliz & Diane Guerrero & Stephanie Beatriz & Encanto – Cast

The platform is unique in the fact that content isn’t limited to short form cycles, which in basic terms means content can go viral at any stage and doesn’t have a shelf life like other platforms. It’s also been pivotal in encouraging young girls to take up the sport, with grassroots players such as @PropLife and @Rugbywithamy inspiring the next generation to pick up the egg-shaped ball.

Speaking to RugbyPass content creator PropLife said:

“I started my account to make people laugh and combat the loneliness in the first lockdown, and now I have over 15,000 followers. It’s also so nice to hear that my content has helped women and girls play rugby. My main aim now is to grow this game and build on the momentum that the sport is gathering.”

The power of TikTok isn’t a secret to the rugby world. In collaboration with PropLife I ran a series of webinars for grassroots rugby clubs teaching them how to use the platform to recruit and retain players. Since doing so there has been a rise in clubs who have explored the platform to raise their profile, and recruitment activities.

It’s almost ironic that both TikTok and women’s rugby are experiencing exponential periods of growth, it’s like they were made for each other. Whilst we are still waiting for more details to be revealed about this partnership, the decision to be a title sponsor isn’t one to be taken lightly. The deal signed will last for four years, and will hopefully see the women’s game gets the coverage it so rightly deserves.

And to think, not so long ago past Women’s Six Nations matches where difficult to come by on the TV, and now one of the world’s biggest content based platforms has publicly pledged its allegiance to the women’s game. For me, that in itself is a big win that certainly sets the bar pretty high for the rest of 2022, who knows what else is round the corner for this ever-growing game?

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