Since 2013, the global rugby fan base has increased by an impressive 24%[1].  Rugby is the second most popular sport tuned into by fans (after football), and 20% of pub-goers watch the game in their local[2].

With Heineken® a global partner, the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks-off in Japan on 20th September and presents a huge opportunity for pubs and bars to capitalise on sporting footfall and boost revenue. The eight-hour time difference will result in many morning matches, so operators may need to rethink their offering to draw in viewers. Research ahead of this year’s tournament reveals that the most important considerations for these rugby fans, outside of alcohol, are a good breakfast menu, coffee, and table bookings for a good view[3].

To help licensees, HEINEKEN UK has identified three tips worth a try for this year’s sporting spectacular. The insight reinforces two of HEINEKEN UK’s key category drivers: “Let’s Get Together” and “Live Better” – worth a combined £423M incremental value to the sector over three years by 2021.

Extend the occasion with food and drink deals

Make the most of early kick-offs with strong pre- and post-match offers on food and drink. During bigger tournaments like the World Cup, food sales peak to double the average just before kick-off[4] as half of consumers look to eat before a match[5]. They decline rapidly during the game with a slight increase after, irrelevant of kick-off time or day.


  • Consider breakfast or brunch opportunities before the midday matches to extend trading over a longer period of time, and offer classic pub grub or themed dishes post-match.
  • A simple ‘burger and drink’ style promotion will keep things quick and straightforward for staff and entice consumers.
  • Offering half time pre-orders before kick-off is another quick, easy way to ensure people stay in your business and avoid a scrum at the bar
  • Multi-buy promotions, cross category deals, and offers particularly focused on large groups and round-buying will help maximise sales, particularly during the latter stages of the tournament.

Think No & Low

Midday matches mean that viewers are more likely to be looking to drink something other than the classic pint. Having a well-stocked alcohol-free range will appeal to consumers who still want to soak up the atmosphere but without the alcohol, or those that want to slow the tempo by alternating between alcohol and alcohol-free.


  • HEINEKEN 0.0 is the fastest growing no and low alcohol brand, adding £5.4M value to the category in the last 12 months[6], while Old Mout Berries & Cherries Alcohol Free is growing its presence in fridges across the country and satisfying cider drinkers looking to moderate. With a higher RSP than soft drinks, alcohol-free beers and ciders are a great way of unlocking additional category value.
  • Appeal to draught beer lovers by offering Heineken® 0.0 on BLADE®. As 93% of all beer consumed is draught[7], BLADE’s cutting-edge beer dispense system allows consumers to feel part of the crowd by enjoying a freshly poured, alcohol-free pint in a way that previously wasn’t possible.
  • Signpost your no and low options to make them clear and visible to drinkers, either at the bar or through special menus. Placing BLADE®, with its eye-catching dome, on the front of your bar is proven to drive 22% more sales than if it were on the back bar [8].

The perfect atmosphere

93% of sports-watchers will go back to the same pub if their first experience was a success[9], so make it count and give customers something they can’t get by sitting on the sofa at home in front of their own screen. Focus on the home nations and big matches, such as England vs. Tonga, or Ireland vs. Scotland, as these games are more likely to drive people from their sofas and into the pub.


  • Encourage your staff to wear their nation’s colours or a rugby shirt to help everyone get into the spirit.
  • More than one third of rugby fans say they would be willing to pay a deposit of £16+ per head to pre-book a table,[10] so consider how to facilitate this and make sure you have plenty of seats with a good view, as well as several screens so that customers don’t miss any of the action.
  • Ensure your next big event is well-advertised. Keep on top of the group stages, use social media to shout about your events, and share future matches and offers to make your outlet the go-to destination for a first-class sporting experience.
  • Use Heineken®’s visibility kits – including bunting, fixture posters, drip mats and ‘try’ scarves – to drive consumer awareness of games being shown and enhance the atmosphere.

While we’re hoping for a home nation victory, one thing is for sure; a buzzing atmosphere will drive greater footfall, dwell time and sales, even after the match, as consumers either celebrate or commiserate in equal quantities[11].

– ENDS – 

For more information or images, please contact Jessica Bottomley or Flo Papougnot at Stir PR: /

020 7749 2596 / 020 3750 6138

About HEINEKEN in the UK:

Headquartered in Edinburgh, HEINEKEN is the UK’s leading pub, cider and beer business. Committed to supporting a thriving on-trade – underpinned by an ethos of ‘Growing Together’, the company owns around 2,700 pubs as part of its Star Pubs & Bars business and employs almost 2,200 people. We’re passionate about our cider and beer brands and the outstanding service that we provide our customers to help them realise the full potential of their offering. Our unrivalled portfolio of brands includes Foster’s, Heineken®, Strongbow, Desperados, Kronenbourg1664, John Smith’s, Bulmers, Amstel, Birra Moretti and Old Mout, backed by a full range of niche and speciality brands.

[1] Nielson sport study 2017,
[2] Based on viewing figures from Six Nations tournaments and autumn internationals
[3] MatchPint Rugby World Cup Survey June 2019
[4] Star Pubs & Bars Proprietary data 2018-2019
[5] CGA 2019
[6] Nielsen & CGA Data; Rolling MAT, YOY Comparison from June
[7] CGA Strategy 52 w/e 21 January 2018
[8] Star Pubs & Bars Proprietary data 2018-2019
[9] MatchPint Rugby World Cup Survey June 2019
[10] Match Pint Rugby World Cup Survey 2019
[11] Star Pubs & Bars Proprietary data 2018-2019

Luxury BnB Magazine

Newsletter Signup. 

News and features for Owners& Managers of Luxury BnBs, Holiday Lets, Guest Houses and Boutique Hotels. 

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
About Dominic Johnson 395 Articles
Publisher, contact about all commercial enquiries.