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Why players need help making most of TikTok opportunity

By Rachael Burford
Jess Breach of England takes a selfie as her team mates pose with the Six Nations Trophy after victory in the Women's Six Nations match between England and France at The Stoop on April 24, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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After what seems like forever, the Women’s Six Nations finally has its first partnership; TikTok. It’s a move in my eyes which can only be seen as a smart one, the sheer scale of individuals that can be reached via the platform is huge. We need to be ensuring for the future growth of the sport that we are making rugby as inclusive and diverse as it can be, and that starts by branching out to new audiences.


We finally have a commercial partner that has committed to the women’s game, TikTok have come in and said ‘yes, we are going to run with it’. We have never had a tournament partnership before across anything internationally, some might say it’s a high risk, but it’s also got huge possible rewards associated with it too.

Added to this, comes a new wave of credibility that has now been attached to the women’s game. A platform as big as TikTok wouldn’t have taken this decision to invest lightly, there was likely months of negotiations going on behind the scenes. For all those who once looked to the sport and didn’t see its potential, people will now be looking to women’s rugby with higher levels of credibility, now that TikTok has attached its brand to the game.

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So often, women’s rugby is looking to other sports thinking ‘we could have done that’, and for once, we aren’t behind, we are at the forefront leading the way into creative and innovative growth, which speaks volumes to the potential of this sport.

Although we don’t know the finer details of the deal, and what it is going to look like in reality, what this means for the future of the sport is huge.

Looking to what we have seen so far, there is a hungry rugby focused crowd on TikTok. Joe Marler and Maro Itoje nearly broke the internet with both of their entrances onto the app, which is good for the men’s game, and I only hope similar focus is applied to world class women’s players when they take the plunge and download the app.


However, I would be interested to understand exactly what support is being given to players around this app. Of course, each club is different, but I would like to think with the news of this partnership that Premier 15’s clubs are ensuring they secure proper training for players on how to best use the platform, and social media in general.

There is always some form of do’s and don’ts of social media, which are obvious, however to my knowledge there hasn’t been any real direct social media training on TikTok, which makes it difficult for players to know what they can and can’t post and to understand how they can maximise the platform. In such an instrumental time for women’s rugby, players need to recognise and understand the power that social media platforms like TikTok hold, and that will only come about with specific guidance on the app.

Players need support and education on the platform, because they could end up doing something that hurts them in the long run. For example, you can talk about things you aren’t happy with, but as a player you have to remember you can’t go too far as there could be ramifications on that.

There is a fine balance to social media, it’s like an artform.


For example, at Quins we are already having conversations internally on how we can as individuals and a team use it as a platform to grow with the audience we want to target.

You also have to remember that the Six Nations won’t want TikTok to be a five-week event, they will hopefully want to ensure that the four-year partnership stems into every level of women’s rugby to ensure the game is growing in a positive direction.

This starts front and centre with getting the players on board. The app currently has a vast range of rugby focused content creators, and it will be interesting to see which players really embrace it and which players steer clear!

In my opinion, the RFU and Premier 15’s clubs should be working together proactively to encourage this, ultimately it’s the RFU’s league and they will only want it to grow so surely by collaborating with TikTok this will only seek to serve the best interests of the sport?

Making content on TikTok is not easy, it takes time. Don’t get me wrong, I know some content takes two minutes to do but other more polished videos do take a fair amount of time to get right. The audience on the app is certainly there for the taking, and clubs should be switched on to this. As the women’s game and the fan base grows, we will see more and more rugby fans, which will be ripe for the clubs to pick from and encourage them to align and become fans of what they are doing.

Ultimately, this new partnership presents a massive opportunity in the sport, and with a monumental year ahead it gives us an opportunity to get women’s rugby out to some fresh eyes.  However, the way this growth will be navigated will be key to ensuring the long-term success of the sport. Players will need support and guidance throughout this time, and shouldn’t be left to find their own way through.


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