Project Soldier Field - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby

Project Soldier Field

Project Soldier Field
This is slightly different to the usual Green & Gold Rugby blog post. Instead of writing about Australian rugby, we’re going to try to do something to help promote it.The Wallabies play the USA Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 5. As well as being a fully capped test match, with all that means for our players, it’s a pivotal event for the commercial fortunes of both unions. A sellout crowd is reputedly worth $1m to the cash-strapped ARU.And yet the game hasn’t been energetically promoted.We believe this is due to cost. The kind of campaign that AIG mounted for the sold-out All Blacks test at the same venue last year is simply out of reach of USA Rugby.No bucks, no Buck Rogers.But marketing doesn’t need to cost a fortune in the new age of Facebook and Twitter. All we need is some virality.

We have a leftfield idea.

Who is the Aussie sporting name on every American sports fans lips right now?

Jarryd Hayne.

Hayne has made a real splash in the NFL pre-season so far. Many journalists are calling him “the story of the pre-season”. If he has another game of similar quality as his first two pre-season games then he’ll become a sensation over there.

His highlights reel is already viral amongst American gridiron fans, and is being repeatedly posted on frontline sports websites, including the main network sites.

Every Aussie sports fan must be wishing him the best. I know I am. I hope he tears it up!

League may not be our code of rugby, but Americans don’t care about that. To them it’s the same, fast-paced, brutal game. And if we can put our sportisan rivalries behind us, it is the same game. There are far more similarities than differences, compared to any other form of football.

So, how do we cross-promote Hayne?

Shamelessly.

A group of us is putting together a collection of press releases, Tweets and Facebook posts that we’ll send out to our networks as Green and Gold Rugby over the coming week.

Our first press release goes something like this:

Like Jarryd Hayne?
How about 30 Jarryd Haynes?
The USA Eagles are playing Australia in rugby at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday 5 September.
Both teams are preparing to play in the Rugby World Cup in England in September and October.
Australia is ranked 3rd in the world, after New Zealand and Ireland.
This isn’t the same form of rugby that Hayne played. That’s rugby league. This is the original, more brutal version.
Australia’s best player, Israel Folau, is a rugby league convert. Check out Izzy’s highlights here.
Last year’s game at Soldier Field against New Zealand was a sellout. Help us make this game a sellout too.
This is a message from real sports fans. We have no commercial interest in the game.

Everyone on G&GR is welcome to contribute in any way they can. In fact we’re relying on you to push the message out on your own networks. As a community, I bet we’re only a click or three away from every NFL fan in the United States of America.

Then we’ll hit Twitter and Facebook. A single viral Tweet can reach more American sports fans in an hour than all AIG’s advertising did last year.

Here are some potential Twitter hashtags:

#FillSoldierField
#ThirtyJarrydHaynes

Our second press release will contain rich content for journalists to use. The kind of stuff you see on a G&GR game preview.

Then we’ll get one of our tame Americans to personally call the editors of the major sports papers in Chicago, and politely ask them to prominently cover the game.

We’ll co-ordinate it from right here, on the front page of G&GR.

It’ll undoubtedly be controversial amongst both rugby and rugby league fans. There will be blood. Excellent!

We have ten days. It’ll be a fun project.

We may not fill Soldier Field, but I bet we raise the profile of the game.

  • Tony

    #Fillsoldierfield – no issues.
    #30JarrydHaynes – Probably a bit off the mark. Not wanting to be a grouch(o) but I think the boys of the front rowers union would be insulted to be thrown in with a nimbly pimbly running back / punt returner.

    May I suggest:
    #footballwithoutpads
    #theyplaybothways
    #nopunters

    • Patrick

      Maybe NOT #theyplaybothways ??

      • John’s No.1 Fan

        We’re a progressive bunch here!

  • John’s No.1 Fan

    Bold. Entrepreneurial. Love it!

    Yes league and union are completely different but does your average American really care, they want to see more Hayne Plane and they’ll get that courtesy of Kuridrani et al. I’d let go of the focus on the distinction because it distracts from the main point which is if they liked Hayne then they’ll love the Wallabies.

    Just wish we still had Digby because the yanks probably wouldn’t let him leave if they saw him tearing up defences and ‘stiff arming’ everyone

    • moaning expat

      Yes. I wouldn’t bother with the difference at all. They wouldn’t understand it anyway.

      Great idea and all behind it. I sent a marketing campaign to my USA office for them to get on board! One of the biggest and oldest companies in Chicago! And they are very aware of the RWC

  • Josh

    I liked it until the “more brutal version”, surely if we are trying to promote Union by saying “look at these two league players” we can leave any semblance of the boring league vs union argument out of it.

    • Good point Josh. That can be cut.

      • Don

        Why even mention that there are different types of rugby? I think it’s an unnecessary couple of sentences and adds confusion. Simple message is that Hayne was a great Australian rugby player, and now you can check out these equally great Australian rugby players at Soldier Field.

        • Another good point. I put that in there to be more honest. But maybe it just makes the message weak. It’s out.

  • Working Class Rugger

    How about #youaintseennothingyet

    Or

    #Haynesonlythebeginning

    Or highlighting Izzy,

    #Haynewho?

    • Ha! Now we’re talking! Great hashtags. A bit of good-natured ribbing should play a part in this.

    • Here’s a tweet for the list:

      @espn @USATODAYsports @SportsNation @SportsCenter JarrydHayne? #YouAintSeenNothingYet. Australia v @USARugby. Sep 5. #FillSoldierField

      And another:

      @nbcchicago Like Jarryd Hayne? Check out @IzzyFolau. http://bit.ly/1F1FPE7 Australia v @USARugby. Chicago. Sep 5. #FillSoldierField #rwc2015

  • theduke

    Love the idea of connecting this to Hayne.

    As an expat living in New York, I’m taking my family up to the game but sadly I couldn’t convince friends and colleagues here to make the trek. A lot of money to spend on something they don’t have any affinity for – fights, hotels, food/drink and of course the ticket.

    There are a couple of segments to think about tailoring messaging for:

    Chicago area NFL fans
    – People that will get on the Hayne plane
    – what about linking it to their NFL team, the Chicago bears? The Izzy highlight reel – #couldhebeabear

    Chicago area rugby fans
    – advocates who can convince neighbors to attend
    – what talking points or content can we give them

    American rugby fans
    – travelers that will get on a regular plane and attend
    – tehy don’t necessarily need the Hayne message. It’s a world cup message. Support the team as they leave for the world cup
    – highlights reel of past world cups

    Just some random thoughts

    • Occularspectorkular

      Can someone photoshop Izzy into a Bears outfit?

    • Excellent ideas, theduke. Consider them in the mix. I’ll get back to you.

  • BG

    I’ll be there. But not to see some mungo. I’ll wait until October 5 in San Clara to see him play the Packers…

  • John Boy

    Good stuff – you should include a link to buy tickets.

  • Hambone

    Don’t push izzy to hard, we might lose him aswell ;).

    • I reckon he lacks the outright gas to go with his open field running skills in that game, Hambone.

  • npivag

    I’d love to see a great site like Grantland put pen to pad about this.

    If a writer with some experience offered to write something up, maybe they’d accept.

    • Ed

      Great idea.

      Is there an NFL equivalent to GAGR?

    • What’s Grantland, npivag?

    • npivag I just sent an article proposal to Grantland. Good lead.

  • Gregory Cornelius

    I admire the effort. Really I do. But the best way to sell this match isn’t about Jarryd Hayne (good luck to him but he won’t be appearing in this test match). Americans are very patriotic. They’ll go to see their national team and their RWC preparations.

    USA Rugby should be promoting the RWC and the Eagles via their own highlights real, not Jarryd Hayne’s. Here is great try from RWC 2007. Remember this? And what about the stiff arm from Todd Clever, and the pass? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7j8I7DB8RE

    • Beatle

      Really good point.

      I know we tried to erase it from our memories, but the US smoked us (and every other team they played) to win the London 7’s. They fielded an awesome team, and may have evoked a new strategy (pro sprinters on the wings).

      If an aussie athlete does well we all bandwagon them (e.g. Hayne), so Americans surely will be the same – they’re actually killing it in the rugby sevens, no reason they couldn’t be fielding a competitive 15 man team in less than a decade.

      • Gregory Cornelius

        Great point about the USA 7s. Makes me think, why not organise for Australia versus USA Sevens as a curtain raiser or half time entertainment in Chicago?

        In fact, why doesn’t that happen at every test or Super Rugby match?

        • Beatle

          This is bigger than Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone. This needs to happen.

          The typical break between halves in a test match is 10 mins, so all that would need to happen is to extend that by 7 minutes, to 17 mintues (1 minute to take the field, 7 minute first half, 1 minute break, 7 minute second half, 1 minute to allow wallabies back on for their second half).

          My guess is broadcasters etc wouldn’t allow it for the September 5 test, but this is a great idea for the future. Would give better value for money for spectators, give our 7’s team a great exposure (might also be a chance for our 7’s b-team if our a’s are off playing elsewhere, and could definitely be a women’s team too), and would be a great way to promote rugby 7’s in america leading in to the olympics. Not to mention that the game could VERY easily go to the USA, which would of course make things more enjoyable for them and give them something to cheer about (let’s be honest we’ll probably pump them in 15’s)

          Also, Americans would probably be less tolerant of the fairly boring half time break, so putting a competitive game on then would be great entertainment.

    • Gregory Cornelius, I hope USA Rugby *will* promote the game more. They have a bit over a week. Maybe we can help prompt them.

      I chose the Jarryd Hayne theme simply because it provides us with some potential virality in an information market that’s very hard to crack. It’s meaning is almost irrelevant. It’s its topicality and the existing association of US sports fans of Jatrryd with rugby that we hope will do a job for us, like the booster stage of a rocket.

      I made sure that one of the first Tweets went to Jarryd himself!

      • Gregory Cornelius

        Your heart is in the right place Groucho. Any idea how many tickets have been sold?

  • Hi everyone,

    I’ve sent a starter set of seven Tweets to Gagger to post on Twitter, to a cross-section of the Twitter addreses of celebs, Chicago identities (including #POTUS) and sports publications.

    There are plenty of great suggestions in here. I’m working through them now.

    Groucho

  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I just emailed the well-known Chicagoan, Barack Obama:

    Dear President Obama,

    Will you get behind the USA Eagles in their international rugby game at Soldier Field on September 5?

    The Eagles play the twice world champions Australia in their final match before the Rugby World Cup.

    A simple “Go Eagles” message of support on Twitter, including our Twitter hashtag #FillSoldierField, will greatly increase awareness of our campaign to get Chicagoans through the gate.

    Both national teams need your support.

    This message is from the Green & Gold Rugby blog in Australia. We have no commercial interest in the game. We simply want a rip-roaring contest in front of a huge Chicago crowd.

    Yours sincerely,
    [My real name]
    http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/project-soldier-field

    Go Wallabies!

    • Kiap

      Nice work, Groucho!

      #ThirtyJarrydHaynes
      #FillSoldierField #YesWeCan

      • #YesWeCan – another hashtag for the next round of Tweets!

  • Gagger has Tweeted. Followers of @GAGR will have some in your Twitter already.

  • Trev

    I hate to be a buzzkill but as an expat living in Indianapolis who will be attending the game I can tell you that no one in the midwest knows about Hayne let alone cares about him. I am in multiple fantasy football leagues and most of the football junkies there only have a vague idea that some Australian guy is in the NFL and none would even recognize let alone know his name.

    The biggest connection to rugby here is easily the All Blacks as they are the biggest brand in rugby worldwide. I would say marketing the Wallabies as the All Blacks bitter rival and appealing to American patriotism would be far more successful.

    • I think that’s true to an extent Trev. I’ve been speaking to some sports writers in Chicago and they certainly do know who Hayne is, and it’s journalists and media this campaign is aimed at, to try to catalyze coverage.

      I do think we over-estimate the pulling power of the All Blacks. 95% of Americans have no idea who they are, although obviously all rugby fans do. I think what got non-rugby people through the gate last year was AIG’s marketing campaign. It’s those people we need to fill the stadium: all-purpose Chicgoan sports fans.

      • Trev

        I don’t think the pulling power of the All Blacks can be overestimated. They sold out a 61,500 seat football stadium in the USA. The marketing campaign doesn’t work half as well without social currency that the All Blacks name carries. You aren’t selling rugby you are selling ‘Our boys up against the World Cup champion All Balcks, the best in the world’. It taps directly into the American ideals of patriotism and exceptionalism.

        • browny

          61,500 kiwis live in chicago im told…

  • abr

    After years of ridiculously early morning games on TV I’m taking my 7yo to his first test match at Soldier Field – pumped!

    Jaryd is not really hitting the headlines over here as much as he is in League Land so I wouldn’t focus on that.
    But the yanks are curious about rugby. Their main obsession is always:
    – no pads;
    – that the same player can run, pass, kick, tackle and will do so non-stop for 80 min.

    So I’d keep it NFL based…

    Q. What do you get when you combine (enter here 3 famous NFL players, preferably Chicago Bears) and take away their pads?
    A. One rugby player.

  • Can I get any Americans here to contribute their Eagles player knowledge to a game preview?

  • Gun

    What about a pivot on the fact that the U.S. are the reigning and most successful rugby Olympic champions. (1920/24) I think.

  • I sent this Tweet:
    @POTUS @GovRauner @ChicagosMayor @Wallabies @USARugby #FillSoldierField #YesWeCan

    I got this reply from @potus2016app:
    #fightfordyett Agree to @6rouchoJones, @MayorEmanuel trades #7, lost 2, among Dem. recent day in Twitter discussions

    I have no idea what it means. Sadly @potus2016app’s not the Prez.

  • hutch

    Or you could just not mention Hayne at all, considering you lot have been trying to kill off the superior code for 100 years and Hayne has never played Union. If you really want to mention him you could even have a slogan “Hayne would be the best player in this sport despite having never played it”!

  • Mick

    I think you mean’t boring not brutal in the above article. Also Union trying to claim Hayne as one of their own just reeks of desperation.

Rugby

Groucho doesn't care to belong to any club that will have him as a member

More in Rugby