Sep 8, 2015

Korea Needs a Rugby Team: Sports as a Driving Force for Economic Growth in Advanced Economies like Korea by Daniel Gardner

It's difficult to understand the relationship Americans have with their football team, there is some religious transcendence in playing with a pig skin every Sunday. When I say football I do mean the NFL and not the round ball kind. My senior colleague recently introduced me to to the intricacies of American football - The NFL, as an Australian I am still learning the ropes.

The NFL is taking on a little more global significance as a rugby league player from Australia was included in the playing roster of the San Francisco 49er's over the weekend. Its significant for a couple of reasons - he was a player who dominated rugby league in Australia and he had never played NFL before.

Through his success, Australia is being promoted again in mainstream US media. With the World Cup less than two weeks away the global focus is shifting towards rugby. Korea needs to be involved!

Global sports like rugby while not mainstream in Korea can become a unique opportunity to promote a national brand at a time with the Korean Ministry for Tourism and Culture is looking for new ways to maintain the momentum of the Korean wave and interest in Korean culture. Its time to look beyond the traditional areas and invest in something a little more global.  Korea needs some skin in this game!

Asia's involvement in rugby will increase over the next 5 years with Japan to enter a team in the Super Rugby competition in 2016. This competition draws participation from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and has a major television audience throughout major European markets.

In 2019, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan will host the World Cup, an event in scale to the Summer Olympics. Again Korea needs to be involved! Hosting an event or a match for the 2019 World Cup would draw much needed tourism and global focus on the country.

Rugby isn't a traditional sport in Korea with only two major teams and some scattered junior developmental teams. Developing a long term plan that includes  an increase in junior development and a greater involvement from Korean teams in overseas competitions would open the doors to increased awareness of Korean culture and Korean global brands. With the World Cup less than two weeks away Korea needs to get off the sideline and get in the game. A Korean rugby team is something I would Gangnam Style for.

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Dan Gardner may be contacted at DanielGardner@ipglegal.com. Daniel Gardner is an in-house Commercial Advisor for IPG Legal.