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The Vodacom United Rugby Championship has given a sneak preview of what to expect in their second season of competition and it’s all about celebrating the different cultures, enhancing the stadium experience, and “gamifying” rugby in the digital space to reach a younger audience.


With this year’s competition entering the home stretch before its historic first playoffs, CEO Martin Anayi has reflected on how they want to keep growing in 2022 and keep innovating rugby.


“We’ll be looking to create more of the so-called tentpole moments in our season where we celebrate the big events and the cultural diversity within our league. We want to celebrate what makes all of our countries different. We love this unique aspect of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and we want to further embody this in an event and the event experience,” he said.


“We’ll also further develop our ability to speak to a younger audience and innovate around more cutting edge social media content and how we present it to TikTok fans and so on. We’re also focused on developing the online gaming aspect of rugby along the lines of the NFL and the popular Madden game. It’s all part of our drive to appeal to a broader audience and create a fan experience that is the best in its class.”


When he reflects on some of the challenges of this first season, Anayi says the 2022 league will have one very important structural change.


“COVID-19 had a definite effect with postponed and rescheduled matches. In a normal year we won’t play across international weekends. We have more international players than any other league in the world and this philosophy of not clashing with international weekends falls right within our core principle.


“We’ll also have an education programme in place to continue to educate our respective audiences on who the various teams and players are. These are all teams that are littered with stars, and this education programme is being actively managed.


“The South African audience in particular has had 25 years of Vodacom Super Rugby, and it’s our job to tell our own story for a new era in rugby with the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.”


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