The Rugby World Cup 2015 – know the rules of the game!

Posted on: September 4th, 2015

The Rugby World Cup is less than six weeks away and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the commercial opportunities available to use the event as a marketing tool for themed promotions. However, it is very important to be aware of the rigorous restrictions so you don’t get yourself landed in the sin bin!

Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

In organising the Rugby World Cup, the International Rugby Board rely heavily on sponsorship from various companies as well as official partners. In return for sponsorship, the IRB give certain exclusive rights to their sponsors and partners.

To protect the exclusivity, the following World Cup Official Marks cannot be used by non-sponsors or non-partners in most circumstances. Protected terms include:

  • Rugby World Cup
  • World Cup Rugby
  • World in Union
  • Rugby World Cup 2015
  • IRB Rugby World Cup
  • RWC 2015

Other protected items include:

  • Official Event Mark – the individual graphics and words “IRB Rugby World Cup 2015” make up the official emblem which are protected.
  • Official Slogan – the slogan “World in Union”
  • Rugby World Cup Trophy – the graphic depicting the International Rugby Football Board – The Webb Ellis Cup

The Rugby World Cup Official Marks must not be used in a way that suggests an association with IRB or the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Therefore, the Official Marks cannot be used for any promotional purposes including competitions, lotteries, games or fantasy games.

It may still be possible to run competitions/prize draws or promotions without using any of the official marks, however there are other laws to bear in mind, which are considered below.


Competitions are regulated by the Gambling Act 2005 which dictates that if you require a participant to pay money to enter a competition there must be an element of skill, judgement or knowledge required which will determine the participant’s success. If the outcome is based on pure luck, for example guessing the outcome of a rugby match then this may not be permitted under the legislation.
In addition to this, if a competition requires payment for entry and asks a simple question which is widely or commonly known, the Gambling Commission may consider this to be an illegal lottery. It is wise to keep material demonstrating the steps you have taken to estimate the likely proportion of potential or actual participants who are or will be eliminated by the skill requirement.

Prize Draws/Promotions

You may wish to run a promotion or prize draw whereby a customer is eligible to enter so long as they buy a product or service. The price of the products or services must not be inflated due to the promotion and premium rate calls must not be used. It is possible to restrict entry to the promotion as long as the restrictions are made clear to the consumer before they take part or buy a product. If, however, the promotion is open to all consumers, the chances of success must be the same for everyone. The allocation of prizes must be done by chance for example by drawing winners out of a hat.


The Gambling Act 2005 states there are three elements of a lottery which are: the requirement to pay to participate; the allocation of prizes; and the determination of winners is by chance.

It may be possible for a business to run a lottery in certain situations however; there are strict rules which must be adhered to. If the rules are not followed the lottery may fall foul of the Gambling Act 2005 and a licence from either the Gambling Commission or the Local Authority may be required.
A sweepstake is a type of lottery run in businesses and workplaces and lends itself to events such as the Rugby World Cup whereby participants pay to randomly select a rugby team, and the winner wins all the money. This is still a type of lottery under the Gambling Act 2005 and there are various conditions to be satisfied however; provided the lottery is small scale and run in the workplace (classified as “work lottery”); by people who live together (“resident’s lottery”); or in a business for its customers (“customer lottery”), a licence from the Gambling Commission will not be required. In a “customer lottery” no prize is permitted to be more than £50. All proceeds must be paid out as prizes or to cover expenses and cannot be used to raise funds e.g. for a charity.


The FIFA World Cup benefitted from legislation to prevent secondary ticket sales. The Rugby World Cup do not have the luxury of specific legislation but have advised that to deter ticket touting, there will be an officially sanctioned ticket-trading site, and in order to restrict the secondary market, tickets will be sent out shortly before the event starts.

Broadcasting Matches

If you are plan on broadcasting rugby matches at your business premises to either customers or employees bear in mind that you will need a TV Licence. Those without a valid licence are breaking the law and run the risk of a court prosecution and fine of up to £1,000 per offence plus costs.

What could happen if you do not comply?

  • A referral to regulators, including the Gambling Commission, Information Commissioner
  • Advertising Standards Authority and Office of Fair Trading
  • Legal action by the IRB
  • Bad publicity and loss of reputation
  • The cost of having to recall and reprint marketing material
  • Disappointed consumers and loss of consumer confidence