The IRFU last night won the Best Use of Social Media award at the inaugural Sport Industry Awards, which were organised and hosted by the Federation of Irish Sport.
#ShouldertoShoulder, the campaign supporting the Ireland team and tying in with the grassroots in the build-up to and during the Rugby World Cup, picked up the award in a tightly-contested field.
The IRFU was shortlisted alongside Cricket Ireland, Great Dublin Bike Ride, Cabinteely FC and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association.
Irish rugby supporters were one of the highlights of the Rugby World Cup and responded very positively to #ShouldertoShoulder and the insights it provided to the Irish team – not just on the pitch, but in showing the human side of the players through trips to Alton Towers, golf mishaps and in the gym.
The IRFU also activated #ShouldertoShoulder offline and amplified it online through specifically targeted events and initiatives aimed at the grassroots of the game and growing the game.
DHL helped us to deliver Rugby World Cup starter packs – including flags, bunting, player masks, RWC posters all branded with #ShouldertoShoulder – to every rugby club and all affiliated schools to help them show their support for the team.
The recent Aviva School Rugby Festival allowed us to engage with non-traditional rugby schools to bring them to the Aviva Stadium on the day Ireland played France. Thirty two schools took part in the event and then watched the game in the stadium – giving them a first taste of what rugby has to offer as a sport.
Speaking about the award success, Barry Cunningham, IRFU Digital Marketing Manager, said: “#ShouldertoShoulder was all about putting supporters and stakeholders at the heart of the conversation around the team and the Rugby World Cup.
“Providing insights into the dedication and work ethic of the players and showing their human side was an important part of the campaign. It went hand in hand with engaging with the rugby public and the wider sporting public with the aim of turning fans into supporters and supporters into stakeholders.
“Working with DHL and Aviva allowed us to deliver grassroots initiatives during the Rugby World Cup that we know will have a lasting impact and bring more people to the sport.”