Oct. 2022 marks the return of the Rugby League World Cup in England. This year, digital 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.
Millions of people around the world are fanatical about the game of rugby and the game’s biggest event is returning to the global stage. After a pandemic-induced postponement, 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 throughout Northern England.
And this year, the competition will be elevated by a digital experience that will revolutionize the game.
The Rugby League World Cup announced on Wednesday that it has partnered with Massachusetts-based NuArca Labs to launch the first-ever rugby NFT marketplace.
In the run-up to the first whistle in October, NuArca Labs will release a number of NFT drops via the RLWC2021 website. Fans will have the chance to grab NFT packs featuring their favorite athletes from around the world. And to mark 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.
In combination, the collaboration champions the inclusivity and diversity of the tournament, with over 600 players representing 21 nations. From France to England and Australia to New Zealand, the action will include the sports’ best athletes from around the globe. The teams may not be selected yet, but global superstars including Maro Itoje, Jonathan Sexton, and Antoine DuPont are expected to be among the most coveted gets in the collection.
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 introduce the perfect way for the everyday rugby fan to dive into the world of non-fungible tokens. The collection allows purchases to be made with 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.
Additionally, Cooper revealed that the collection will introduce tiered opportunities, starting with a loyalty reward for those who rolled over their tickets from last year’s postponed tournament, as well as high-value NFTs that will offer fans exclusive access at various World Cup events. He also teases in-game opportunities that will blend IRL action with a digital overlay.
As Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021 reflected on the launch:
“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.”
The first installment will come this March with “The Power Together,” which commemorates the extensive history of the tournament, including its marquee trophies, nations, ambassadors, and hosts. Later this year, the “Rugby League World Cup: The Vault” drop will spotlight some of the most exciting events in Rugby World Cup history and memorabilia.
Each pack will cost £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 collection is not NuArca’s first foray into the world of digitally enhancing fan experiences.
In Oct. 2021, USA Rugby teamed up against the New Zealand All Blacks for the 1874 Cup, commemorating the year that the sport landed in the US. Fans could scan QR codes to access in-game experiences and enter themselves for the chance to win exclusive, fieldside access for the All Blacks’ iconic haka.
Cooper also notes that the NFT collection is only the beginning for theRugby League World Cup and NuArca’s impact on the industry more broadly. “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 drops will allow you to get close to the action but spare you from the debilitating hits.