The online home of Women's Rugby

TikTok capitalising on growing women's market

Why are TikTok investing in women's rugby? We put some questions to Harley Johnson, the Sports Marketing Lead, EMEA, for the company. 

You're involved in several sports now - what's the attraction and what do you hope to be able to achieve with these sponsorships?

In less than a year, TikTok has announced partnerships with some of the world's biggest sporting organisations, from UEFA to Six Nations Rugby, with the aim of bringing the spirit and passion of sport to our diverse global community.

All sports - rugby included - lend themselves well to the creative and joyful video format TikTok is known for, from unseen training clips and match highlights to light-hearted player and fan reactions. TikTok gives fans the chance to go behind-the-scenes and experience iconic sporting events in new ways, while allowing athletes to show people a different side of themselves and their sports.

Our ultimate aim through these sponsorships is to make TikTok the leading destination for sports fandom in Europe and beyond, across both women's and men's sport.

You have also shown a commitment to women's sports - how will you go about leveraging those particular fanbases?

We want to play our part in championing women's sport and making it even more visible to a global audience. We’ve seen huge growth in TikTok hashtags like #womeninsports, which spotlights talent from professional athletes to grassroots freestylers, currently standing at 850 million views.

Alongside these community-driven hashtags and trends, we’ve recently launched several partnerships with women’s sports organisations, including a tie up with Burnley FC Women which sees us broadcast all of this season’s home matches live on TikTok. We also teamed up with the Lawn Tennis Association to make the Billie Jean King Cup the first live sporting event to be broadcast on TikTok in the UK. Now, becoming the first ever Title Sponsor of the Women's Six Nations gives us the opportunity to help rugby grow and attract new fans.

During the TikTok Women's Six Nations, our dedicated Rugby Creators will bring the magic of the tournament to fans by delivering regular exclusive content from each Union and helping to continue rugby's exciting growth on the platform. Check out @kurtious' coverage of the Scotland team for a taste of what's to come.

In terms of your sports sponsorships or partnerships - what does success look like for your brand?

The common thread running through everything we do in sport is a focus on our community and responding to what they want from sports content. So for us, success is about creating new ways for fans to discover and engage with the athletes, teams and sports they love, while giving clubs, federations and players the chance to connect with new audiences - both within and outside their existing fanbases.

With the Six Nations, we saw an opportunity to capitalise on the rise of rugby content on TikTok and it's amazing to see how the community has embraced the tournament so far. #sixnationsrugby, which is our home for the tournament in-app, has seen dramatic growth since the partnership was announced, from just over 17 million views of the hashtag to nearly 650 million views today. Views of the #tiktokw6n hashtag have also increased 10x in just over a week, standing at almost 4 million views.

Seeing the huge number of new players and creators joining TikTok and throwing themselves into the platform is another measure of success for us. The hilarious content from players like Ilona Maher (@ilonamaher) at the Summer Olympics and Joe Marler (@joemarler17) at the men's Six Nations are great examples.

In terms of rugby, what can we expect to see during the women's Six Nations from TikTok?

Our #SixNationsRugby hub will be prominent on the Discover page throughout the women's tournament, as it has been during the men's, so that we can be sure we're bringing the best content from players and fans to as wide an audience as possible, further elevating visibility of the tournament and women's game. This will range from behind-the-scenes training footage and matchday rituals to creative highlight reels and fun player interviews, plus all the amazing content from our Rugby Creators and the TikTok community.

What do you know about women's rugby fans and what do you hope to get to know over the course of the sponsorship?

The women's rugby community on TikTok has enormous potential and we're aiming to tap into that through our title sponsorship of the Women's Six Nations. As of now, the fast-growing  #womensrugby hashtag has been viewed 88.8 million times and the #tiktokw6n hashtag has to almost 4 million views in less than a week following the launch event. This shows how excitement has been building for the start of the tournament and I can't wait to see how fans get involved.

We have an amazing and growing community of women's rugby creators on TikTok who are shining a light on all aspects of the the game, from grassroots to professional. One of my favourite examples is Jemma aka The Prop Life (@theproplife) a rugby content creator who had an amazing reaction to the TikTok / Six Nations partnership announcement. Jemma is now selling The Prop Life branded merchandise and is putting the proceeds to back into grassroots women's rugby.

TikTok was home to a passionate community of rugby fans even before our Six Nations partnership, with the #rugby hashtag sitting at over 6 billion views at the time of the announcement. It comes after we teamed up with the British & Irish Lions last summer to give fans an inside look at life on tour in South Africa via a whole host of behind-the-scenes and live content.

How will you work with the players themselves?

A key pillar of our support is ensuring the teams for the women's tournament are set up for success on TikTok - helping them to maximise ways in which they can reach rugby fans and creators in a creative and safe way.

We're also providing support to female rugby creators to help them create the best content they can, while aiming to help them reach a wider audience. The goal here is that they build their profiles on TikTok and reach even more people across our community - all of which will contribute to the growth of the women's game.

Like all fans, we're also all too aware that misogyny and other hateful behaviors in rugby are still far from being eradicated. At TikTok, we are determined to protect the experience of enjoying rugby on our platform from those who seek to spread hate and division. Education plays a critical role in striking out hate, which is why we're working with referees to launch a series of #SwipeOutHate videos where they share what fair play means to them. Read more in our Community Guidelines.

How are fans able to get involved?

Follow dedicated accounts like @sixnationsrugby@womenssixnations and @autumnnationsseries, or check out country-specific content on @englandrugby@officialirishrugby@federugby@scottishrugby@welshrugbyunion and @francerugby, amongst others.

We are also challenging people to get involved with all the tries, scrums and penalties by taking part in bespoke hashtag challenges and using our custom Six Nations effects, filters and sounds in their creations (see #SixNationsRugby for more). These include:

Some women's rugby creators

  • @theproplife (16,300) – Jemma aka The Prop Life is a rugby content creator, who had an amazing reaction to the TikTok / Six Nations partnership announcement. Jemma is now selling The Prop Life branded merchandise and is using the proceeds of which to put back into grassroots women's rugby.
  • @elliepigfordxx (21,800 followers) - Ellie is a Premiership rugby player and Level 2 rugby coach. Her profile focuses on vlog match highlights, training sessions and more
  • @rugbywithamy (13,681 followers) - Amateur rugby player posting comedy skits, trends and general rugby-related content
  • @samanthalouisephillips (11,700 followers) - Fitness and nutrition coach with an interest in rugby
  • @stellamills__ (7,200 followers) - Women’s rugby writer and columnist

Some women's players and pundits using TikTok