Rugby World Cup: The marcoms lowdown on the Group D contenders

The Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off today. In the final part of our series, here's our lowdown on the social media, storylines and sponsorship for Group D's contenders: France, Ireland, Italy, Canada and Romania.

Rugby World Cup: The marcoms lowdown on the Group D contenders


Social weigh-in: Twitter: @FFRugby - 101,000 followers, Facebook: FFRugby - 339,000 likes, Instagram: FFRugby - 62,900 followers

Star player: A key player in the team, Mathieu Bastareaud has had a love-hate relationship with the media, having once lied about being assaulted before coming clean. Earlier this year he discussed a previous suicide bid with newspapers, but appears to be in better health now, and frequently shares details from his life on and off the pitch with fans via Facebook.

Superbe après-midi avec les enfants à l'hôpital Necker ! #sourires #enfants FFRugby - Fédération Française de Rugby

Posted by Mathieu Bastareaud Officiel on Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sin bin: It might be unfair to put France in the sin bin for this - but as the highest profile non-English speaking rugby nation, the language barrier can leave it slightly isolated from a marketing and comms perspective. Its players are rightly proud of their language, and have been known to get grumpy about conducting interviews in English.

Fair play: Recognising the dangers inherent to top level rugby, in 1990 the French Rugby Federation and its insurance partner GMF created the Fondation Albert Ferrasse, which among other roles provides financial assistance to injured players. Similar initiatives exist in other rugby nations.

In the posh seats: Alongside GMF, France's sponsors include Société Générale, Adidas, Air France and Orange. It also works with BMW - as does the England team, creating the opportunity to transfer their rivalry from pitch to cockpit in this video from BMW earlier this year.


Social weigh-in: Twitter: @IrishRugby - 368,000 followers, Facebook Irish Rugby - 453,000 likes, Instagram: irishrugby 58,800 likes

Star player: It's not clear from these Instagram pictures if sprinter Usain Bolt has made the Ireland squad for the tournament - probably not, but then hey if you met Bolt you'd brag about it on Instagram too, wouldn't you?

A photo posted by Irish Rugby (@irishrugby) on

Sin bin: Various Irish fans and journalists called foul earlier this year when, during the race for the RBS 6 Nations title, England's official Twitter account wished Wales good luck in its game against Ireland - England stood to benefit from a Welsh win.

Fair play: Given the complex political situation in Northern Ireland - one that has again hit boiling point in recent weeks - it is remarkable that the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have played alongside each other in an All-Ireland team for years, and indeed remarkable how little that fact is remarked upon.

In the posh seats: While its shirts are sponsored by phone network 3, they are made by Canterbury, which has been filming Irish fans enjoying the famous craic before majors. The result: plenty of singing, lots of fancy dress and a pint or two...


Social weigh-in: Twitter:@Federugby - 75,200 followers, Facebook: Federugby 191,000 likes, Instagram: italrugby - 8,300 followers

Star player: With Italian rugby so often in the shadow of the country's beloved football team, the two rugby players to perhaps enjoy the highest profile this year so far have been Giacomo and Stefano, a couple who play alongside each other for Rome amateur team Libera Rugby Club. Their appearance on the front cover of the famous La Gazzetta dello Sport's SportWeek magazine was meant to be a provocative way of tackling homophobia - despite the positive statement, the reaction was mixed.

Sin bin: Frustrated with their bonus package, the Italian players went on strike this summer, refusing to train or wear anything bearing the rugby federation's crest - although the situation has since been resolved.

Fair play: Sky Sport in Italy has been encouraging stars from other sports, including the Roberta Vinci - surprise conquerer of Serena Williams on the tennis court last month - and footballer Alessandro del Piero, to get behind the Azzurri.

In the posh seats: Italy has a long list of sponsors - including the bank Cariparma, which is its shirt sponsor, kit manufacturer Adidas San Benedetto Water, NH Hotels, a detergent, a car repair firm - in fact you name any brand, there's a decent chance it will appear among the massive list of 35 corporate partners of the team.


Social weigh-in: Twitter: @RugbyCanada - 40,600 followers, Facebook: RugbyCanada - 59,000 likes, Instagram: rugbycanada - 28,200 followers.

Star player: Siblings Phil and Jamie Mackenzie are both active on social media - with Jamie documenting life off the pitch on Twitter, and Phil's new Facebook page set up specially to tell his World Cup story.

Sin bin: It would take a brave individual to put this criticism to such a muscle-bound group, but it is debatable whether the team's red blazers for formal occasions make them look professional and formidable as desired - or more like holiday camp entertainers.

A photo posted by Rugby Canada (@rugbycanada) on

Fair play: The team's social media output can be somewhat eclectic - have you every wondered what it would be like to pit two Canadian forwards against each other at Jenga? What's that - you haven't? Well, here it is nonetheless. For having coined the phrase "that's Jenga, man" - a useful life motto for us all surely - we should be grateful.

JENGA! Earlier this summer we pitted Canadian back row forwards Thyssen de Goede & Richard Thorpe against each other in...

Posted by Rugby Canada on Tuesday, 15 September 2015

In the posh seats: The team's sponsors include logistics firm DHL, Guinness, and kit maker Under Armour. DHL has run a competition to send exemplary junior players to England - to watch the tournament, not as emergency substitutes, of course.


Social weigh-in: Twitter: @RugbyRomania - 4,300 followers, Facebook: rugbyromania - 33,700 likes, Instagram: rugbyromania - just over 1,000 followers

Star player: One of the few Romanian players based overseas, Catalin Fercu of Saracens will be a recognisable name to English fans - while a number of his teammate also play for a club with a recognisable name; Timisoara Saracens, its partner club in Romania's third largest city.

Sin bin: Alongside Canada, Romania is one of the lowest-ranked sides in the tournament, and there has been considerable debate about whether these teams should even be present at the World Cup given the likely uncompetitive matches they will play against top teams.

Fair play: It might not happen on the pitch, but Romania were streets ahead of England on the blood donation front - encouraging supports to give blood at their offices last week, well before the #bleedforEngland campaign took off.

In the posh seats: Like Italian shirt sponsor Cariparma and 3 for Ireland, Romania's kit sponsor CEC Bank will not appear on shirt during the tournament, due to tournament rules.

However, the companies making the shirts can still display their logo on players' chests, and the Romanian kit manufacturer BLK can give itself a pat on the back for having designed one of the tournament's better kits, according to a Telegraph Online article. The yellow jersey with geometric designs based on traditional handicrafts was described as "graceful" and "a nice break from the general drudgery of rugby shirt design". Rather predictably, the newspaper named New Zealand's iconic black shirt its favourite design.

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