Making the Most of Sport - in association with Sky

Rugby World Cup: It’s a scrum for the bar

By Mike Berry contact

- Last updated on GMT

England take on France in two Rugby World Cup warm-up matches
England take on France in two Rugby World Cup warm-up matches

Related tags: World cup, Rugby world cup

The Rugby World Cup is heading to England next month, and fans of the home nations are all optimistic of their team’s chances, and optimism among fans of any sport is usually good news for pubs

This feature is sponsored by Sky

The tournament takes place across six weeks, starting on 18 September as hosts England take on Fiji at Twickenham. Ahead of that, all of the home nations are in action on Sky Sports in some big warm-up matches.

For pubs, these matches offer an opportunity to build anticipation ahead of the competition and establish themselves as the local home of rugby union — as well as a chance to trial new drinks offers and promotions, and food offerings that will lend themselves well to quick, easy preparation and service at busy times.

Vibrant sport

Rugby union fans are as passionate and dedicated as they come, and it should be no surprise that it’s the second most-watched sport out of home. Licensees who get their offer right can really drive business; attracting new customers in and keep them coming back for more throughout the season to enjoy the camaraderie and buzz around this vibrant sport.

England v Ireland rugby

Former World Cup player and now Sky Sports pundit Will Greenwood knows just how important the warm-up games are, with the clashes giving England head coach Stuart Lancaster the chance to size up his squad and to raise the anticipation among the fans.

He told Sky Sports’ Preview​ magazine: “With places still up for grabs, it’s an opportunity for the players to show their form, and while Stuart doesn’t make wholesale changes it’s a chance for him to ‘dot the Is and cross the Ts’.

Win an England Rugby remote control

Sky has five limited edition England Rugby remote controls to give away ahead of the autumn’s main event. To win one for your pub, tweet @SkySportsPub​ with the hashtag #PMASkyComp, along with your answer to the following question:

How many warm-up matches are showing on Sky Sports ahead of the World Cup?

T&Cs: You must be following @SkySportsPub to win. Sky will select five winners at random and notify them via Twitter. The closing date is 13 August.

“I wouldn’t even be surprised if he knows his starting 15 for the first match already! But form goes and injuries happen so nothing is etched in stone. Stuart is always one to watch closely what’s happening in training and to see what shape the players are in both mentally and physically, so even though he may have a good idea of his team now, there’s always a chance of change.”

Match atmospheres

Greenwood also sees this as an important opportunity for England to re-acclimatise with big-match conditions ahead of a World Cup on home soil. “These warm-ups give the players a chance to play against some fresh meat. They’re also important in that it gives the players a chance to get back to playing in real match atmospheres, get the feel of Twickenham and get the kit on in a proper, contested game.”

England begin their QBE International warm-up campaign against France at Twickenham on 15 August before flying to Paris for a reverse clash a week later. They end at home to Ireland in early September and Greenwood is positive about England’s chances come the opening match.

England host Fiji in the opener and Greenwood already has an eye on the latter stages. “I think England’s chances are very good. Home advantage is a big plus for them and I fully expect them to win the group and to make the semi-final. When you get to the last four though it’s difficult to call and we’ve seen a lot of upsets at this stage in past World Cups because teams realise how close they are to the final.”

England rugby team training

Gearing up for the big tournament

Six World Cup warm-up matches exclusively live on Sky Sports

New Zealand v Australia

  • 15 August 8.35am
  • Sky Sports 3

Guinness International:

Ireland v Scotland

  • 15 August - 5pm
  • Sky Sports 1

QBE International:

England v France

  • 15 August - 8pm
  • Sky Sports 1

France v England

  • 22 August - 8pm
  • Sky Sports 1

Guinness International:

Ireland v Wales

  • 29 August - 2.30pm
  • Sky Sports 1

QBE International:

England v Ireland

  • 5 September 2.30pm
  • Sky Sports 1

Sky Sports venues can enjoy another unrivalled season of rugby union with live matches from the international, European and domestic games, including the Top 14 and Guinness PRO12, as well as international and domestic fixtures from the Southern Hemisphere, plus analysis and opinions from the biggest names in the game, including Jonny Wilkinson, Sir Clive Woodward, Scott Quinnell and Will Greenwood.

And there are sure to be a number of interested spectators packing pubs in the coming weeks as England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland build up to a massive autumn of World Cup rugby.

Top Tips on getting your pub match-ready

Plan ahead:​ Go to to download free posters to advertise the fact you’ll be showing all the warm-up matches in your venue

Good marketing:​ Many pubs find success through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Use it to keep customers up to date with what’s on and promote any special offers you are running

Be flexible:​ Sky Sports continues to offer an unrivalled breadth of content. Avoid any fixture clashes by using Sky’s additional viewing cards to attract more sports fans and keep people in longer

Tailor your offer:​ Change your menu so the food you serve is quicker to prepare, which will, in turn, help staff to deliver a better service. Consider lunchtime barbecues and quick and easy finger foods like burger and chips

Generate a buzz:​ Help customers get in the spirit of the competition with pre-match predictions, like the first-try score or the winning margin to generate
some friendly banter

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