How the 2016 Bowl Series Ended Up at Iona College
As president of the Iona College Rugby Football Club, it is my responsibility to oversee all game production. After my short-lived rugby career ended due to shoulder injuries and I still wanted to contribute to the team.
My production team and I would make sure there was music for the game, the scoreboard would correctly represent the game, and there would be PA announcements during the game. These attributes contributed to creating an event-like atmosphere. Our head coach Bruce McLean could recognize this uniqueness to Iona Rugby matches and knew we could be part of an event larger than just us.
Unfortunately for me, I never had the opportunity to play in the URugby Bowl Series or attend one. Even when we hosted our own Bowl game against University of Delaware in 2015, my grandmother was in town from Florida which took me away from the action. When Bruce Mclane, Head Coach of Iona College Rugby approached me to be a part of hosting the 2016 Bowl Series, I was in. I knew that this opportunity would benefit not only Iona rugby, but all of Iona College. Stephen Siano knew the location of Mazzella Field and knew it was a perfect location to host multiple rugby matches. After meeting Stephen for the first time, we got right to work on creating the 2016 Bowl Series at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.
Besides the organization of teams and referees, there is a lot more that goes into creating an event. We wanted to appeal to more than just the fans. Although the focus of the tournament was the college 15s matches, the 2016 Bowl Series also hosted High School 7s matches during halftimes and in between games. With this, we could connect college rugby programs to potential recruits. We put together a college fair, which was hosted in the LaPenta Student Union right next to Mazzella Field. This was a great opportunity for colleges to have a table to showcase their club to the high school athletes who were in attendance.
Another attraction was the VIP Lounge, which was located on the second floor of the LaPenta Student Union. VIP Ticket Holders were given access to their own Lounge and complimentary refreshments. The VIP Lounge also allowed for an outside deck to watch the games from a skybox view as seen in the photo of me.
Creating the event was an experience for all of those in attendance, but what about for those who were unable to make it to the event? Rugby is a very popular sport in foreign countries and many athletes on these teams have families who could not be at the game. It was important to us that those families had the ability to watch the game their ruggers took part in and we could make that happen. Working alongside the Iona College Athletic Department, we created a live video stream through YouTube to reach out to all rugby fans. The live stream also included commentary from some of best known names in Rugby media including Ryan Trost and Alex Goff.
When teams compete in an URugby Tournament, it creates a new relationship for URugby and the collegiate rugby teams. For Iona, we have now competed in three consecutive Bowl Series which lead to even bigger things for our team. Not only did we form the first ever 7s rugby team at Iona, we also were able to compete in our first 7s tournament in the URugby Ariel Re Bermuda 7s and the players were ready for the opportunity. Afterall, the team ended up with a record of 4-2 in their first ever 7s tournament.
When it comes to hosting any type of event, 4x3 (in cooperation with URugby) knows how to create an event that is beneficial for all. We know that there is more to event marketing than simply connecting everyone to the product your event is based around. Besides creating more than viewing option at the event or allowing access to fans across the globe, 4x3 also understands the importance of creating and selling merchandise as memories for those who purchase it.
Personally, working with Stephen and the rest of the 4x3 team as an intern on this project was an absolute pleasure and is something everyone can learn from.
Greg Potempa, 2016-17 President of Iona College Rugby Football Club