Six Nations preview: Give it a try

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Related tags: Six nations championship, Six nations

The fast-approaching RBS Six Nations rugby tournament is a perfect opportunity to attract custom to your pub. Phil Mellows offers some tips.Talk of...

The fast-approaching RBS Six Nations rugby tournament is a perfect opportunity to attract custom to your pub. Phil Mellows offers some tips.

Talk of putting the RBS Six Nations tournament back until the end of the rugby union season in future years will not go down well with many publicans. It might ease the stress on players but the Six Nations is a godsend to the pub trade, providing as it does a series of set-piece weekends to boost business at a time when there's not much else going on. Holding it in April or May would hardly have the same impact. And what would the Six Nations be without mud?

But don't worry too much about that just yet. It's time to prepare for RBS Six Nations 2005, which kicks off in three weeks on February 5 and runs through to "Super Saturday" on March 19.

In recent years the Six Nations schedule has fitted neatly with pub business and made it possible for you to screen every match live without any clashes, maximising the opportunity.

This is one deal the BBC has managed to hang on to as well, so you don't have to fork out for Sky.

Pubs with a strong following among rugby fans will already be wise to the opportunity, but the appeal of the Six Nations stretches beyond their ranks.

Rugby tends to attract a broader, if not so numerous, audience than football. More women and an older age profile mean a threatening atmosphere is less likely to develop and you have more chance of making it a family occasion.

You don't have to know much about rugby to cheer on your side and most community pubs can benefit from the Six Nations by focusing on the home team matches.

If you're going to do it, though, do it properly. It could be worth renting a big screen if you haven't got one already and while the game is on remember to turn the sound up and block out any glare from daylight to help build a big match atmosphere.

Start advertising now by putting up posters inside and outside the pub and generating some anticipation among your regulars. Put some effort into this, especially if you don't show sports on a regular basis.

Don't rely on switching the telly on two minutes before kick-off. Try to plan how the match will fit into your weekend's trading.

For instance, the Wales v England curtain-raiser is at 5.30pm, finishing about 7pm. The challenge is to hold customers for the rest of the evening, perhaps by serving food straight after the match or organising some entertainment. For the 3pm kick-offs, think about luring people in for a pre-match lunch.

If you're running a big rugby pub you'll probably want to show all the matches and your challenge will be to manage the day's drinking. Food is the key, but make sure it's something you can prepare easily and won't get in the way of the rugby.

Super Saturday, which will feature all three closing games of the tournament, is worth some special organisation by itself. Even if the title has already been decided by then, it's a major day in the rugby calendar and with any luck your customers will be in a celebratory mood.

Bear in mind that there's a hour-long gap between each game. Consider serving free buffet food, running a rugby-themed quiz or showing highlights of classic rugby matches of the past.

Every one of the Six Nations games is being screened live by the BBC. Check out the schedule below and plan your coverage.

Six Nations fixtures

  • Saturday February 5
    France v Scotland 2pm, BBC 1
    Wales v England 5.30pm, BBC 1

Sunday February 6
Italy v Ireland 2.30pm, BBC 2

Saturday February 12
Italy v Wales 1.30pm, BBC 1
Scotland v Ireland 4pm, BBC 1

Sunday February 13
England v France 3pm, BBC 1

Saturday February 26
Scotland v Italy 2pm, BBC 1
France v Wales 4pm, BBC 1

Sunday February 27
Ireland v England 3pm, BBC 1

Saturday March 12
Ireland v France 1.30pm, BBC 1
England v Italy 4pm, BBC 1

Sunday March 13
Scotland v Wales 3pm, BBC 2

Saturday March 19​ (channels to be confirmed)
Italy v France 1pm
Wales v Ireland 3.30pm
England v Scotland 6pm

Let the big brands help you bring the rugby to life. Phil Mellows looks at what drinks companies are doing with their brands for the tournament. Click hereto find out more.

Related topics: Sport

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