Why Rugby Not Being Soccer Means England's World Cup Exit Is Not A Total Disaster

It wasn't a great weekend for a lot of sports fans. Two Premier League managers are gone after a weekend in which I rushed from watching Chelsea getting stuffed at Stamford Bridge to witness England being humiliated at Twickenham on ITV. Not great news, but as far as rugby goes, when you look at the headlines that it could cost the UK economy north of three billion pounds, you really have to question whether it really is all that bad.

There are several reasons why. First, and in fact for just about every reason, there is a common denominator -- rugby is not football. Had the soccer World Cup been in London and England had not progressed from the pool stage, then tabloid headlines of billions dropping into the ocean would have held more weight. As it is, rugby fans tend to love the game. While soccer supporters generally love a team first and the game second. My observation, and it could be wrong, rugby is more about a love of the game.

The second obvious point is that -- excuse me for crowing -- in soccer England is generally the only home nation that regularly qualifies for the a Euro Championships or World Cup. When they get knocked out, as they always do, interest evaporates. However, with rugby, all four home nations will always be taking part -- Northern Ireland as a part of the Ireland team, of course. So that means that only a quarter of the UK's teams went out on Saturday, not the entire contingent.

Third, rugby's World Cup has far more of a commonwealth feel to it than the Fifa World Cup. London and the UK's major cities are obviously packed with people from all parts of the world, but particularly Australians, Kiwis and South Africans who will all be safely through to the knockout stages. That means three of the four teams the UK public would have any interest in are through and so too are the commonwealth teams that will have huge support.

Don't get me wrong -- obviously it's awful on the economic front, as well as sporting front, that England is out. The doomsday headlines, though, of three billion pounds being wiped off shares and so on are just ridiculous. Sure -- fewer people will go to the pub to watch a game, ITV will get lower audiences, fewer fans will buy booze and pizzas to watch the game at home and you can imagine the bookmakers will not take as much money. But the thing is, rugby fans will still hold an interest in the big games and many will have a bit of Welsh, Scottish or Irish blood in them to hold an interest in another team, even if it's just a case of having a partner from Australia or South Africa and now begrudgingly getting behind them.

People who bought quarter final tickets in the hope that England would be in the game will obviously lose out, but let's face it, there was always a risk England wouldn't progress from the so-called "group of death" and they still have the same ticket they had before the weekend. The only loss will come if they were secretly hoping to sell it on today for a massive mark-up had England made it through. As for a slump in hospitality and ticket prices, pretty much all tickets are now sold out and if England fans don't show up for posh nosh and a ticket, you can bet your bottom dollar that fans of another nation will. It's not great for the hospitality industry but it's certainly no disaster.

It's the same for the brands. The company most associated with England, O2, will obviously now drop its "Carry Them Home" to victory campaign. However, O2 was not a shirt sponsor for the world cup. In fact, the other brand that did the most work in trying to associate itself with England and world cup was Samsung with its short rugby lesson adverts with former stars. Again, though, Samsung isn't a sponsor. Will people drink less Heineken now England is out. I doubt it. It has the pouring rights at the stadia and whoever is in each game will still carry on drinking the official sponsor's brew regardless.

So, proud supporter of the England rugby team that I am, I have to counter the headlines of doom and gloom by pointing out that it really isn't quite that bad. One team out of Australia, England and Wales was never going to make it through so a huge presence was always going to be missing from the quarter finals onwards. The fan in me is sad it's England but the show goes on. There will be millions lost, no doubt, in sales of booze and pizza and television audiences -- but not billions, as the tabloids are suggesting.

1 comment about "Why Rugby Not Being Soccer Means England's World Cup Exit Is Not A Total Disaster".
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  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, October 5, 2015 at 10:55 a.m.

    An insightful and I suggest an accurate appraisal.  I will be on business in London and taking in a couple of games however I am sure we will spend no less money or experience any less  excitement beacuse of Englnd's demise. Well almost!  As true Rugby fans the final, Wales vesus New Zealand with overtime (??), will be a thriller!  Can't wait.  Cheers

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