Player Recruitment: Make it easy for people to join your club

How easy is it for people to find you?

Normally when someone asks this question, we instantly think of physical location. I’ve definitely travelled to some tough-to-find rugby grounds in my time! But I’m wondering how easy it would be to find out information about your club and to join it. Especially if I was a rugby player who had just moved to the area.

Rugby is a pretty popular sport – so sometimes, people will be actively looking for a club to play for. A lot of our content focuses on how to put your club out there to attract new people. However, as volunteers, you might not always have the time to implement some of our marketing strategies. This guide will give you some “quick wins” that you can apply to improve the number of people who join your club. I believe it could be done in under an hour and have provided some approximate timings in the article.

If you’re a marketing nerd like me, this is all about improving our “conversion rate” (not the same as Owen Farrell’s kicking record!). A simple way to explain it is that a “conversion” is when someone takes an action that you want. In this example, it’s joining our rugby club. If 100 people visit our website and 1 person joins, we have a conversion rate of 1 in 100 or 1%. Some of the reasons people don’t “convert” are within our control (e.g. can’t find the information). Others are outside of our control (e.g. not interested in rugby, already part of another club). Don’t worry too much about the technical terms. We’re just trying to grease the wheels of our online presence to make it easier for people to join us.

Google Search: Rugby in My Town

Estimated Time: 5 minutes

There’s a running joke in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) circles that the best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google results. Seriously though, the first page of results gets 95% of the traffic – the very top result gets nearly 1/3 of all the clicks, so it’s where you need to be!

A quick health check you can perform is to type in “rugby in my town” into Google. For example, I live in Hove, so I would type “rugby in Hove” into Google. If your club appears pretty high up then you’re in a good place. If your club is the only one nearby then you should appear very close to the top, but if there are a number of clubs in your local area then you might not appear as high. Depending on the size of your club and its goals this may or may not be an issue.

If your club doesn’t appear at all, or if it’s on page 2 or lower, then there are a couple of easy fixes that can help boost your website.

  1. Submit your site through the Google Search Submit. There are similar tools for the other search engines, but Google is the biggest.
  2. Make sure your website has regular content – for example, post news updates once a week. This helps search engines determine what your site is about and therefore includes you in relevant searches. As a minimum, you should have a Contact Page with your club’s address on (including town name). Your Club Name should also be included in the Title and Heading. If you’re using website software like Pitchero, this is done automatically, as long as you enter your data.
  3. Ensure that your social media includes some links back to your website. Facebook Pages, Twitter and Instagram all have a “website” link that you should use. If you’re posting news articles as recommend by 2. above, then post a link to your website articles on your social media accounts. This helps Google to recognise that it’s an active website. Don’t overdo this – you don’t want Google to think you’re a spammer!

A Warning

SEO is a huge subject that takes a long time to master – don’t expect that the three steps above to take you directly to the top of the search results, it’s just a quick troubleshooting fix in case your site hasn’t been ranked at all. Full SEO can be a huge rabbit-hole for a small organisation and beyond the scope of all but the biggest rugby clubs, and it might not even be relevant for them.

Google My Business

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Google My Business used to be called “Google Places for Business” but they’ve added a range of features to make it better. Essentially you can create a profile for your business that can show up when people search for you – including things like your logo and address. It’s also integrated with Google Maps. If you’ve added your profile, it means that someone can type in “Rugby Club” into Google Maps and not only will your result show up if you’re in their area, but will also have a profile that includes your logo, a cover photo, a description you can write and links to your website etc.

In its simplest form, you can just make sure your profile is filled out so that when people are searching they get a rich profile for your rugby club rather than just a name. However, there are also additional features such as offers & events which might be beneficial to some clubs.

Reviewing your Online Presence

Estimated Time: 20 minutes

If I tried to join your club right now, how easy (or otherwise…) would I find it? Let’s say I got to your website – is it clear what to do next?

Think of it in terms of a new person to your website – most people want specific information and if they can’t find it easily, they’ll move on. A new person might be looking for words like “join” or “new players” or “contact.” One club’s website I saw had a navigation bar that included Club as one out of 7 options, which opened a drop down which had 12 more options, including “Membership.” On that page you could sign up for a Direct Debit as a new member. It was actually very difficult to join the club, which meant that most people either went to “Club Contacts” and found an email address or messaged through Facebook. I wonder how many people just didn’t bother.

I think a “Contact” or “Get in Touch” page is essentially for most websites, but especially for rugby clubs. Most have a contact form these days – this might be ok in a pinch, but a far better solution would be to have a page specifically for new people. This page could be titled “Join Our Club” so that when people see the link to it, they know what it’s about. This page should have some key information:

Some reasons they should join your club

Maybe it’s because you’re the best club in the area (or the worst!), or because you’re the best social outfit, or because you’ve got teams for kids and adults. What makes your club amazing? Talk about it here! This might be your only chance to sell your rugby club to this person.

Clear contact details

Preferably with a picture, but at least a name so that they know they’re getting through to a person. Bonus points if you have separate contact information for the type of player you might attract (Men’s Contact, Women’s Contact, Minis & Juniors Contact). When people come across a contact form, there’s always a worry that it won’t get to the right person or sometimes not even get to a person at all!

Key Information & Offers

You can include things like location and fees here, but also talk about your joining process. Do you want people to email first or can they just turn up for training? When is training, by the way? That might be something to include here! Do you offer a trial session or multiple sessions to see if they like it? If it helps, you can present this as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Whenever someone gets in touch, make a note of what questions they ask, answer them and then add it to your FAQ list. It seems like a small thing, but people will have their own questions and worries – by giving them the information as early as possible, they’re going to be reassured that you’re a forward-thinking club that is going to provide them a great experience.

If I send a message to your Facebook page or Twitter or Instagram, how long will it take me to get a response? Will I even get a response?

I don’t want you to feel like you’ve got to be sitting around waiting for messages to come in, because they’re likely going to be infrequent, but maybe use some form of notification or ensure you’ve got a regular checking schedule. If I want to play rugby and I don’t hear from you within a couple of weeks, I’m almost certainly already looking somewhere else!

One thing that can help, especially if you’re responding to messages in the off-season, is to create a list of people who have messaged you. I’ve included an image of a similar spreadsheet I use to manage new volunteer enquiries but it would work similarly for new players. If you finish playing in April, then by the time pre-season starts in late July, you might have forgotten who’s messaged you. They might also have forgotten you too! A spreadsheet like this means you can go back a couple of weeks before pre-season starts and give them all the details and make sure no one gets missed.

I don’t store any identifiable information about people, just a first name. Got in touch via says “Facebook” or “Twitter.” I also put a date that I last spoke to them (Last Comms) and if I’ve promised to get back to them, I put a deadline in Next Comms.

Club Finders & Online Lists

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Both the RFU and RFL have club finders available – these are worth making sure you’re on. It’s worth checking these every now and then (once a year would be more than enough) to make sure you’re still on them.

I’m not saying that the National Governing Body for your sport will remove you deliberately but a few years ago, the club I was involved with started hosting a new club and the interface meant that the map pin could only display one club, which meant that our club didn’t show but the new club did! Fortunately that issue has been fixed and both clubs show in the search results, but you never know where technology can go wrong.

You should also check regularly to make sure that it has the correct information – for example, if you’ve just started a new section, make sure your listing gets updated to reflect your new offerings. If you’ve started a new minis section, make sure that gets added so that when someone in your area searches for minis rugby, you get included in the results!

There are other bodies which will maintain lists of Sports Clubs and these may change based on your area – so don’t think of this as an exhaustive list. Obviously if you can find additional lists that make sense for your club, get yourself on them!

  • Constituent Bodies/Competition Sites
  • Referee Societies
  • Local Council
  • County Sports Partnerships (CSP)

It’s also worth having a list of where your organisation is listed – that way you can go back and check current listings and update them as needed. As with the Club Finders, once a year is more than enough, but just to ensure that any contact details are up-to-date and any new offerings are reflected in.


Total Time: 55 minutes

Hopefully this has given you a few different ideas as to how to improve how easily someone can find your club! As I said earlier, there are probably already people looking to play rugby in your area. Anything you can do to make it easier for them to find you is going to increase the chances that they actually end up joining your club!

If this post has helped you or you’ve got another great idea, leave a comment below! If you want more great content from us, you can sign up for our mailing list below.

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