Why delaying the Women's Six Nations is a huge opportunity for growth.
It's February next month. Which means one thing right? Six Nations.
This year it could be a little different. Previously there has been rumours and reports of moving the Women's Six Nations so it does not clash with the Men's tournament, there are drawbacks to this, none more so than missing out on being part of that Six Nations atmosphere that grips the UK for 8 weeks. But here we are 3 weeks out from the opening weekend, amid the depths of the Covid crisis & lockdown, and there is not even a fixture list for the Women's tournament, whilst the Men's fixture list (and broadcast timetable) has been available for 6+ months on their website alongside supporting news articles.
So is this the perfect time to experiment with a change in the Women's Six Nations schedule? With the Rugby World Cup less than 9 months away in New Zealand, this is a key time to be building support & engagement for the home nations in what COULD be a massive year of progress in Women's Rugby. Although delaying the Six Nation's may not have been everyone's first choice, rushing it through in February could be even more damaging.
Though, all is not lost, there are huge opportunities to be exploited in delaying the tournament that could rebuild the momentum into the RWC.
OPPORTUNITIES LOST & GAINED
- To build anticipation & awareness of fixtures 3 weeks out from a tournament will be very difficult to achieve, it is too late to give the credit these fixtures deserve.
- More time to announce fixtures & give them a real focus rather than competing with existing Men's Schedule.
Continue momentum off the back of Men's tournament concluding in March.
- More opportunity to secure & advertise a broadcast deal & schedule to allow for optimum viewing figures.
- Zero match clashes with Men's tournament, more opportunity for prime time channel's & timings.
- Make it as easy as possible for fans to watch matches, growing the game leading into RWC, where more broadcast deals are to be created.
CLOSED GAMES/SHARED VENUES:
- At a time when we are aiming to break attendance records year on year, to have closed games will impact the progress we have made on this.
- Venues for fixtures & training are often shared by men's & women's teams, covid bubbles will mean that men's teams get priority leaving women's side to find alternative training & playing venues.
- With lockdown measures likely to ease by April and warmer weather, there will be increased demand, potentially higher than normal years, to attend live sport.
- No spectators & unfamiliar venues will undoubtedly effect the atmosphere of match day which will reduce the exciting spectacle of the games.
Of course this scenario is not ideal, far from it, but to take this situation and even create tangible growth for the game leading into a World Cup is more than possible. The opportunities are there to be taken.