As Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off, worldwide partner Mastercard is celebrating the inclusive spirit and innovation that makes rugby a uniting force for fans and players around the world.
“Connecting with people through their passions is at the heart of how we bring Priceless to life all over the world,” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “Sports have been an important part of that journey, and by using technology to enhance the experience for fans at the game, fans at home and players alike is how we are building emotional and culturally-relevant connections.”
With a recognition of the impact technology has on the fan experience, Mastercard today unveiled new changes to Player of the Match award. New for 2019, the Mastercard Player of the Match trophy blends Japanese heritage with cutting-edge technology, celebrating the first-ever Rugby World Cup™ in Asia.
The hardware features a sculptural origami design, inspired by the work of Professor Jun Mitani**, and will be finished live on the ground with in-the-moment laser etching reflecting highlights from the match. Monitoring fan activity on social media through a bespoke API – combined with commentary from the official world feed RWC 2019TM – Mastercard will select the top moments of each match to be immortalized on the trophy.
This unique story making approach enables players to take home a first-of-its-kind, truly priceless account of the match, so they can re-live moments of passion, excitement and sporting greatness.
Technology Leaves Its Mark on the Field…
In a recent survey of sports fans, several impacts of technology were highlighted as improving the overall experience, both in-stadium and at home. Video replay came out as a fan favourite, with over half (54%) of all respondents saying it was significantly improving the sport.
South African rugby legend Bryan Habana agrees that “referring certain on-field instances to the” TMO (Television Match Official) “has been crucial in making important, game-changing decisions. We are seeing more of the correct decisions being made when instances of TMO involvement is introduced.”
English and Irish fans have varying opinions. Those in Ireland are big fans of video replay (60%), while a slightly lower percentage in the UK (39%) supported the technology. Regardless of geography, fans are united in a love for sports on the go, with a majority of both nations saying keeping up to date on their phones makes them feel more connected.
…And Keeps Fans Close to the Game
Technology has also played a role in how fans stay connected to the sport. New Zealand (38%) and Australia (22%) represent the largest populations watching a match live on television at least twice a week. Meanwhile, in continental Europe, French and Italians are united in their favourite motivational emoji, both loving the hand clap when tweeting about sport (22% and 23% respectively).
Bringing the Experience to the Fans
In addition to Dan Carter and Bryan Habana, Mastercard is working with Joy Neville, Michael Leitch and Akihito Yamada as global ambassadors for Rugby World Cup 2019TM in Japan to bring fans closer to the games and sport they love.
This year, Mastercard will host its first-ever Priceless Surprise Twitter thread, a priceless chain of unexpected moments in unexpected places with unsuspecting people during the opening weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019TM. Fans can be a part of the experience by following Mastercard global ambassadors @DanCarter and @BryanHabana, @mastercard and #PricelessSurprise on Twitter.