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Rugby Is Buzzing After the Summer Olympics

October 4, 2016

2016 marked the first time since 1924 that rugby appeared in the Olympics, and many would assume after an 82-year hiatus that the sport would need some time to gain momentum. But, that wasn’t the case for rugby. Based on share of voice (SOV) research conducted by Penn Mutual, which measures the amount of general online buzz, rugby gained almost 300% more attention during this year’s Summer Games compared to just one year ago.

365 days prior to the start of the Summer Olympics, rugby had a 7 percent SOV calculation. Since the beginning of the Rio Games it jumped to 23 percent. Even sports like cycling and water polo gained online momentum during the games. However, the percentage increase for those sports fail to match the hike in attention rugby received. Cycling’s SOV increased from 11 to 20 percent while water polo’s only increased from 1 to 6 percent.

Another sport re-entering the Summer Games this year was golf, which last played in the Olympics in 1904. However, the sport’s SOV actually decreased from a year ago, dropping from 55 percent to 35 percent during the Games.

“We recognized the potential for the growing sport of rugby a few years ago and are truly pleased with the amount of attention these incredible young women and men have received in such a short amount of time,” says Eileen McDonnell, chairman and CEO of Penn Mutual.“We’re proud of our relationship with collegiate rugby, its players, and the entire rugby community. This upward trend in popularity is exciting and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the sport in 2017 and beyond.”

Through its partnership with United World Sports and NBC Sports, Penn Mutual is the title sponsor of the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The company also sponsored Kristen Thomas of the USA women’s sevens team and Madison Hughes, captain of the USA men’s sevens team, throughout their journey to Rio.

Penn Mutual loves rugby, and after the sport’s resurgence in this year’s Summer Olympics, it’s apparent many others do too.

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