The Rugby League World Cup will return to England in October. For the first time, digital NFT drops will accompany the on-field action in the quest to crown the sports’ top teams in the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair games.
There are millions of people across the globe that are fanatical about the game of rugby and the sport’s biggest event is returning this year to the global stage. After being postponed due to the pandemic, The Rugby League World Cup will bring together the greatest stars from across the men’s, women’s, and wheelchair games for over 60 matchups that will be played throughout Northern England.
And this year, the competition will be elevated by a digital experience that will transform the game.
On Wednesday, The Rugby League World Cup announced that it has partnered with Massachusetts-based NuArca Labs to launch the first-ever rugby NFT marketplace.
Free NFT for 2,021 Fans
Rugby fans won’t have to wait until the World Cup however, as prior to that, NuArca Labs will release a number of NFT drops via the RLWC2021 website. Fans will have the opportunity to buy NFT packs featuring their favorite athletes from around the world. To celebrate the debut of this new online marketplace, the first 2,021 fans to create an RLWC2021 digital collectible account will receive a free commemorative NFT.
Together, the collaboration enriches the inclusivity and diversity of the tournament, with more than 600 players from 21 nations participating. From France to England and Australia to New Zealand, the action will include the sports’ best athletes from around the globe. The teams have not been selected yet, but global superstars including Maro Itoje, Jonathan Sexton, and Antoine DuPont are expected to be among the most desired NFTs to collect.
NuArca CEO and Co-Founder, Todd Cooper, tells Boardroom, “It’s a really fun way to own a little piece of the action.” Cooper notes that the packs are a great way for the everyday rugby fan to dive into and learn about the world of non-fungible tokens. The collection allows purchases to be made using fiat currency and the developers intentionally selected Polygon — a “sidechain” that helps brands get the most out of the Ethereum blockchain — to keep costs low and minimize its environmental impact.
In addition, Cooper stated that the collection will also have tiered opportunities. There will be a loyalty reward for those fans who rolled over their tickets from last year’s postponed tournament, as well as high-value NFTs that provide fans exclusive access at various World Cup events. He also indicated there may be in-game opportunities that will blend IRL action with a digital overlay.
Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021 said, “We have focused on being as inclusive as possible, ensuring our range of collectibles can be purchased via a number of methods and giving fans an additional way of interacting and owning a part of Rugby League history.”
NFTs Launch in March
The initial release will be in March with “The Power Together,” which commemorates the extensive history of the tournament, including its marquee trophies, nations, ambassadors, and hosts. Later, the “Rugby League World Cup: The Vault” drop will highlight some of the most exciting moments from Rugby World Cup history.
The cost for each pack will be £9.99 (about $13.50) and does not require a MetaMask wallet, which is part of NuArca’s commitment to increasing fans’ accessibility to the blockchain.
The Rugby World Cup NFT collection is not NuArca’s first venture into the world of digitally enhancing fan experiences.
In October 2021, USA Rugby teamed up against the New Zealand All Blacks for the 1874 Cup, commemorating the year that the sport was first played in the United States. Fans were able to scan QR codes to access in-game experiences and enter a contest for the chance to win exclusive, field side access for the All Blacks’ iconic haka.
Cooper also notes that the NFT collection is only the beginning for the Rugby League World Cup and NuArca’s impact on what’s ahead. “The people who are working on this technology are quite literally writing the future… We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible,” he said.
The series of NFT drops will allow fans to get close to the action but spare them from the debilitating hits.
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