Rugby World Cup 2011 Volunteer Programme

Overview of the project

The Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) was the biggest event staged in New Zealand. The Volunteer Programme was a highly visible and important element of delivering the event.

This longitudinal study tracked the volunteers through the build-up to the event, captured their post-event highs, and followed up with them in the year after the Tournament to explore some of the legacies of their involvement.

The study had two aims:

  • First, to explore the relationships between motivations, expectations, and experiences of Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteers. This information was used to contribute to the evaluation of the RWC2011 Volunteer programme.
  • Second, to explore the extent to which the Rugby World Cup 2011 Volunteering Programme provided a legacy of increased participation in volunteering and sport, and improved employability, workplace learning orientation and workplace-learning outcomes. This aim focused on the potential for volunteers to acquire new and valuable skills and put them to use in the workplace and community, resulting in legacies of enhanced workplace productivity, community involvement and volunteering, and participation in sport.

The research was funded by a grant from

Key findings

The story of the RWC 2011 volunteering journey was overwhelmingly positive. Volunteers were highly motivated and had secured their volunteering roles through a competitive selection process. They had high expectations of the Volunteer Programme and experience, and these expectations were largely met or exceeded. That is not to say there were no downsides to volunteering, but the low points were outweighed by the highlights and the majority of volunteers were highly satisfied.

In the year following RWC 2011 the volunteering experience continued to resonate with those who took part. Volunteers treasured memories of the good times, as well as the challenges they had overcome. However, the longer-term legacies present a more complex picture and that was seen in the outcomes for participation in volunteering and sport, as well as employment-related and social legacies.

Research reports

Summary Report pdf1.2MB provides an overview of the key findings.

The full Report pdf3.8MB and Appendices pdf2.0MB can be downloaded from the Sport and Recreation Library

About us

The research team is headed by Dr Karen Smith, a Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management Victoria University of Wellington. Karen’s research concerns the management of volunteers in events, sports, and tourist attractions.

She is working with Dr Geoff Dickson from AUT University.

We also have a team of advisors from overseas universities: