USA Rugby and Wizeline launch chatbot for Rugby World Cup Sevens

Wizeline took the lead in all aspects of project management, so our team did not have to worry about it. They delivered everything within a fairly tight deadline. Their project management was extremely effective and essential to our success.”

Everett Jacobs, VP of Regional Partnerships

USA Rugby

Executive Summary

  • Wizeline designed and developed a digital fan experience for RWC7s on Facebook Messenger. The purpose of the chatbot was to provide tournament schedule, updates, and general stadium facts.
  • RWC7s Fanbot lived for four days (launch + three days of the tournament) and provided information about match schedules, score updates, fun facts, and local dining options.
  • Facebook Analytics captured/recorded more than 1,100 unique users.
  • The chatbot received 4,015 messages during its 4-day span.


The client

Founded in 1975, USA Rugby is the national governing body for the sport of rugby in America, and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and World Rugby. USA Rugby is one of the fastest-growing rugby markets in the world, and Nielsen research recently confirmed that it has the second-largest fan-base with more than 33 million people either interested in the sport, highlighting rugby’s huge potential.

USA Rugby is in charge of developing the game on all levels and has over 115,000 active members. The organization oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes.

The opportunity

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the premier stand-alone international rugby sevens competition outside the Olympic Games. The event is contested every four years, with tournaments for men’s and women’s national teams co-hosted at the same venues. USA Rugby acted as the host union for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, and managed and delivered the tournament, hosted in San Francisco at AT&T Park, home to the Major League Baseball team San Francisco Giants.

USA Rugby was tasked with covering the U.S. men and women’s teams for the tournament. Director of Media and Communications, Calder Cahill, and his team were responsible for media and fan engagement. The team was focused on the onsite logistics of managing media and press and needed an efficient way to distribute information at the event. This was the first time USA Rugby ever used a chatbot for an event of this magnitude.

“There can be a lot of drawbacks on the customer service side for an event like this,” said Cahill. “A lot of questions will come through to the tournament. ‘Where do I pick up my ticket?’… When you are low on resources, a turnkey option [like Wizeline] can be an excellent resource.”

Designing an interactive fan experience for the Rugby World Cup Sevens

The event team at USA Rugby wanted to create a chatbot experience to offer attendees and fans watching from home a way to engage with USA Rugby. The goal was to provide easy-to-find event information that would enhance the fan experience, including tournament schedule, updates, and general stadium facts.

USA Rugby knew chatbots were popular for customer service, especially for companies where people have a lot of frequently asked questions, but were less familiar with chatbots’ engagement rates. It leaned on Wizeline to craft the digital experience.

“Rugby Sevens fans are a very digitally engaged group. We wanted to be able to provide fans with real-time information with ease and speed,” said Rosie Spaulding, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 General Manager. “Wizeline was the perfect partner for developing a chatbot designed to communicate event information both in the stadium and outside to our fan base to enhance the overall experience.”

Rugby Fanbot in action

Word Key

User journey – A user journey is a visual representation of the user experience across the chatbot solution.

Intent – An intent is the user’s intention. Intents are often named as a verb and a noun, such as “showWeather.”

User flow – A user flow is the path taken by a user to complete a task in the chatbot experience, such as retrieving a match score.

Wizeline’s team of UX designers and bot trainers created user journeys to structure the bot’s conversation flows.

Based on the user journeys, we created a list of intents to group phrases that a user would use to chat with the bot. Programmed intents allow the user to make specific requests (like finding a cafe near AT&T Park) and letting the bot respond with the correct flow. The most popular intents greetings, match updates, and subscriptions.


Rugby Fanbot was trained on 447 different phrases and could engage on 17 different intents; new phrases were added throughout the tournament.


The Rugby Fanbot user demographics skewed younger and male, with 53 percent male users, ages 18-34. Users grew by 72 percent between Thursday and Friday and increased by 95 percent between Friday and Saturday during the peak of the tournament. The bot had a stable number of users from Saturday to Sunday.

Partnering with Wizeline

USA Rugby spent ample time researching the project and defining the scope to determine feasibility. Wizeline then developed, designed, and implemented the local tournament chatbot through USA Rugby’s Facebook Messenger platform. The team handled everything, from the project timeline to getting approval from Facebook to activate the bot on Facebook Messenger. Wizeline also provided weekly updates and demos on the status of the local tournament chatbot in real time. Wizeline’s project team comprised 8‒10 people, and provided expertise in development, marketing, and design.

The conversations and connections we’ve had have been awesome. Wizeline gave us an understanding of what the bot was, a clear understanding of what we needed to provide to make the bot successful. The team was very accommodating.”

Calder Cahill, Director of Media & Communications

USA Rugby

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