The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest global sporting event (no prizes for guessing the other two) and a great chance for pubs to cash in.

And what's the only thing better than a World Cup? One on your own shores, of course.

England kick-off the action in under a month's time on September 18 against Fiji at Twickenham and will hope to end it in the final in the same stadium some six weeks later on October 31.

In between they will play (hopefully) every Friday or Saturday, giving pubs weekends to build events around.

Wales will be hoping to upset England in Group A, which also features Australia. Scotland faces the likes of South Africa and Samoa early on. The Irish are also heavily fancied, so don't throw away those shamrock hats that have been hanging around since St Patrick's Day.

Not only do you have a decent chunk of time to make the most of the action (all screened on ITV) but there are fixtures all over the country so the chances are there should be some rugby fever near you.

How about Stat?

Research by card payment specialist Elavon and PWC suggests 500,000 overseas tourists will join the 14m UK based fans planning on watching games. Overall the Rugby World Cup is expected to generate £2.2bn – visitors alone are going to pump £869m into travel, accommodation and hospitality so there is plenty of pie for pubs to compete for.

The study also breaks down rugby fans into three types: hardcore, casual and loyal. They all share similar characteristics: they are predominantly male, in their late 30s and 40s, with an above average income and, most importantly, tend to socialise in pubs.

That is very good news for licensees, as is the fact that these fans also tend to like a beer...

 

Beer

As an official sponsor Heineken has plenty of World Cup activity planned, including its tie-ups with legends of the game such as Will Carling and a host of rugby legends (above).

It is also touring the Webb Ellis trophy to selected pubs and other venues around the country and giving fans the chance to win hospitality packages and the be present for the coin toss at the start of games.

Pubs that stock Heineken near host stadiums will be featured on a bar finder on the Heineken Rugby website.

New point of sale, limited edition bottles and a hints and tips guide are all designed to help pubs maximise sales.

Andrew Turner, Heineken's on-trade category & trade marketing director, said: "We are confident that experiential and promotional activity will excite rugby fans and will give operators throughout the country the chance to increase footfall and sales in the build up to and throughout the Rugby World Cup."

Guinness is another beer with strong rugby links and it is looking to bolster sales following a strong Six Nations which saw a 25 per cent uplift in on-trade sales.

Katerina Podtserkovskaya, head of Guinness activation in the on-trade, says: "With increased excitement and anticipation now expected with the nation getting involved in a home tournament, this clear association of watching rugby in pubs presents an even greater opportunity for licensees."

Guinness will help by providing 10,000 point of sale kits and a mechanic to sell four pints of Guinness called 'The Lineout' (below).

Mobile bars and inflatable rugby posts will also be popping-up as part of the stout's activities.

Katerina adds that pubs need to start promoting fixtures this month whilst pre-tournament friendlies take place.They should also prepare for an influx of new customers.

"The opportunity is worth the extra preparation, though," she says. "Live sport attracts people who might not visit the pub that often and interest in sport is significantly higher among younger generations. Therefore the tournament could be a good way to recruit these consumers to become your regulars."

 

Soft Drinks


Coca-Cola is an official sponsor of the tournament and is keen to encourage pubs to cater for those fans who will be steering clear of the hard stuff.

Caroline Cater, operational marketing director at Coca-Cola Enterprises says: "It's often assumed that alcohol should be the main focus in these situations, but the reality is that sales of soft drinks can also play a large role. As a way to increase sales, soft drinks should be made visible in outlets, with the use of POS materials, promotions and prominent displays of the drinks in the chiller."

Food
And in this crazy modern pub world you might even find that some rugby fans want food to go with their soft drink (or beer or even wine).

Crisps giant Walkers recommends stocking a core range and some speciality crisps for your rugby fans.

"Combining a good display, whether that is clip strips or back of bar menu units with the right range will help to meet consumer needs and maximise sales", says Ayman Nasreldin, director of out of home at PepsiCo

And hot food should be consistent, quick and easy according to Big Al's UK foodservice manager Ed Robinson.

"Stock up on sharing snacks. A bucket or basket of chicken wings presents the ideal match snack and will generate very little washing up which is perfect for times of high footfall."

And don't forget to make food available before, during and after matches to ensure customers come early and leave late.

My Rugby World Cup:
Padraig Brady, Mulligans, Deansgate, Manchester

The pub that bills itself as 'the home of Guinness in Manchester' is expecting a bumper World Cup – especially when the much-fancied Irish are playing.

Padraig expects the 28 barrels of Guinness a week he typically sells to double.

"We are a sports pub and along with soccer and Gaelic football, rugby is always a big draw for us.

"We will be billing ourselves as the HQ of Irish rugby in Manchester and we will show all of the games on nine screens over two floors. There will be live music before and after games to entertain our punters.

"It will be interesting when England play in Manchester because of course we are an Irish pub but we have always been popular with the English and Welsh as well."

Mulligans is an Enterprise Inns pub which has launched a nine point support package to help licensees during the World Cup.

Rugby World Cup – key fixtures

  • Sept 18: Eng v Fiji, Pool A, Twickenham, 8pm
  • Sept 19: Ire v Can, Pool D, Cardiff, 2.30pm
  • Sept 20: Wal v Uru, Pool A, Cardiff, 2.30pm
  • Sept 20: NZ v Arg, Pool C, Wembley, 4.45pm
  • Sept 23: Sco v Jap, Pool B, Gloucester, 2.30pm
  • Sept 26: Eng v Wal, Pool A, Twickenham, 8pm
  • Sept 27: Sco v USA, Pool C, Elland Road, 2.30pm
  • Sept 27: Ire v Rom, Pool D, Wembley, 4.45pm
  • Oct 1: Wal v Fiji, Pool A, Cardiff, 4.45pm
  • Oct 3: Sco v SA, Pool C, St James Park Newcastle, 4.45pm
  • Oct 3: Eng v Aus, Pool A, Twickenham, 8pm
  • Oct 4: Ire v Ita, Pool D, Olympic Stadium, 4.45pm
  • Oct 10: Sco v Sam, Pool C, St James Park, 2.30pm
  • Oct 10: Wal v Aus, Pool A, Twickenham, 4.45pm
  • Oct 10: Eng v Uru, Pool A, City of Manchester, 8pm
  • Oct 11: Ire v Fra, Pool D, Cardiff, 4.45pm, Cardiff
  • Oct 17 & 18: Quarter Finals
  • Oct 24 & 25: Semi Finals
  • Oct 31: Final

For full pool and fixture listings visit www.rugbyworldcup.com