UAE has a strong pedigree in staging world class events such as the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby 7’s and Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways Formula 1 Grand Prix. The yearly calendar is full with many events and as such local/national events and sports leagues need to compete for fans disposable time and of course their spending pattern.

UAE Rugby has three divisions of competitive rugby leagues which have been supported and held as the pinnacle of local rugby over many years. The players train and compete with passion for their team mates and the club/jersey they represent, but there has been one important element which has been missing….the fans!

Onside Sports worked closely with the UAERF to develop and design a turn-key season-ending festival of domestic rugby, a strategy which needed to heavily engaged with rugby fans and include live broadcast. The aim was to create a historic day for local rugby that would change the landscape for the future and set a benchmark for the fan engagement at all local rugby matches.

In April 2017, the Inaugural Grand Final Day for UAE Rugby was held at Dubai Sports City.

Managed and delivered by Onside and the Federation, the day was the culmination of three divisions competitive season and saw crowned champions in each division in front of a home grown fan base with the live broadcast distributed through the national broadcaster; Dubai Sports.

As anticipated, by creating an atmosphere of excitement to crown champions in all three divisions, and add good quality food and beverage options and sponsor activations, a fan base of 1500 local rugby supporters and families made a lot of noise and cheered home their respective teams. In addition to the fan experience, the quality content and sponsor engagement was used to generate over 56,000 people reached through Twitter and 26,819 impressions through Facebook, making Grand Final Day a standout success as a promotional vehicle for the sport and sponsors alike.

Creating a festival of rugby atmosphere gave additional local companies the opportunity to promote their products to the rugby fraternity, which added value to the fans and their families through activations and promotions at the venue. These new companies are now fans of local rugby and from the positive outcomes will continue to support the game in the future, importantly adding fresh investment to the game.