With the Rugby World Cup off and running, 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 Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar.
'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, we are building emotional and culturally-relevant connections.'
With recognition of the impact technology has on fan experience, Mastercard today unveiled fresh changes to the Player of the Match award. 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 worldfeed RWC 2019 - Mastercard will select the top moments of each match to be immortalised on the trophy.
This unique storymaking approach enables players to take home a first-of-its-kind, truly priceless account of the match, so they can relive moments of passion, excitement and sporting greatness.
Dr. Mitani is a professor of Information and Systems at the University of Tsukuba undertaking research related to computer graphics. Born in Shizuoka in 1975, Mitani graduated from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering in 2004 and later passed out from the University of Tokyo, securing a doctorate in engineering.
His early intrigue and fascination with paper-made handcrafts and computers led to his current research theme. Mitani's research includes computational origami design or simply, origami designing with computer software. The main research themes are shape modelling, computational geometry, computational paper and digital fabrication. Additionally, he has authored two books '3D Origami Art (Nippon Critics)' and 'Curve Origami Design (Nippon Critics)'.
Technology leaves mark on the field
In a recent survey of sports fans, the impact of technology was found to improve the overall experience, both in the stadium and at home. The video replay came out as a fan favourite, with over half (54%) of all respondents saying it significantly improved the sport.
South African rugby legend Bryan Habana agreed, saying: '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.
Technology has also played a major 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, France and Italy, fans 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 Carter and Habana, Mastercard is working with Joy Neville, Michael Leitch and Akihito Yamada as global ambassadors for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, to bring fans closer to the games and the 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 2019. Fans can be a part of the experience by following Mastercard global ambassadors Dan Carter and Bryan Habana, Mastercard and #PricelessSurprise on Twitter.
Mastercard is a technology company in the global payments industry. It operates the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities - such as shopping, travelling, running a business and managing finances - easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.
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The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is the ninth edition of rugby's showcase global event and the first in Asia. The world's top 20 national teams will play in 48 matches hosted across 12 match cities for the right to lift the Webb Ellis Cup and be crowned world champions.
© Pakistan Press International, source Asianet-Pakistan