Teamwork makes the dream work: How World Rugby worked with its partners to bring a new-look SVNS to global screens

World Rugby has worked with host broadcaster Sunset+Vine and graphics provider AE Live to create the new look for SVNS rugby

To bring the revamped World Rugby SVNS to life in its first season of the new-look tournament, which showcased the 12 best men’s and women’s teams in the sport, host broadcaster Sunset+Vine and Ignite – also known as AE Live NZ – worked with World Rugby to bring a new look and feel to the production.

SVNS, which climaxed in a Grand Final weekend held in Madrid [31 May to 2 June], has been a spectacle on screen that is drawing in new, younger and more gender-diverse viewers thanks to the work of the three parties involved in the revamp.

“Look, we’re trying these things. Sometimes they don’t work, but if they do work, it’s fantastic”

World Rugby’s executive producer and director of live events, Steve Jamieson, comments on Sunset+Vine, with whom it has worked on the sevens since 2019: “The last series has been run by Sunset+Vine as host broadcaster. They’ve been great. They understand what we’re trying to achieve. Sometimes it’s hard for a host broadcaster to come in and suddenly there’s a World Rugby executive producer also saying, “well no, this is what we’re trying to do”, but we have a really good relationship.

“They understand what we’re trying to achieve,” he continues. “They understand budgets and things like that. So it’s mainly been AE Live for graphics and they all also do all our stats gathering and things like that, and Sunset+Vine for our host broadcast.”

At the Grand Final of the SVNS 2023/24 season in Madrid

Ultra motion fan cam

On particular technologies that have come into play in this revamped season for SVNS, Jamieson states: “One thing we added this year was an ultra motion fan cam. So basically the whole game it is just shooting fans in close ups or groups. What you find, if you cut to a fan live, they see themselves on the big screen and they just start waving and it spoils the whole shot.

“So if there’s someone chewing their nails, we’ll deliberately have a big close up; if the game’s close, it’s an easy way to sell the drama of what’s actually happening, replay-wise. We quickly record it, turn it around in slow mo, and it adds all that drama. Or if they’re having fun – the Fujians are incredible, and the Kenyans – we’ll deliberately just aim the cameras at fans to get more fan shots in the coverage.”

There are a lot of new ways being experimented with at World Rugby to get that atmosphere in the stadium back to fans at home. Comments Jamieson: “We try a few different things. Like normally a try is scored, a replay is shown full frame, and we go back to the try scorer, but now we’re doing box replays and that could be that fan camera just on a fan screaming their heads off, and in the box next to it is the try. So it’s the try happening, but you can seeing the fan’s reaction to the whole try happening or we do it, say, with a coach in the box, so the coach is nervous and the coach punches the air as the try is scored.

“You’re getting a feel of what other people are feeling as that try is scored, not just what you are feeling as a viewer. Look, we’re trying these things. Sometimes they don’t work, but if they do work, it’s fantastic,” Jamieson enthuses.

AE Live NZ has worked closely with World Rugby to provide the Sunset+Vine production of SVNS a vibrant new look for the 2023/24 season

Graphics in motion

On graphics, World Rugby, with its partner AE Live NZ, completely reimagined the look of the fresh and vibrant new production.

Ignite created all the graphics for the production, attempting to push the boundaries of match graphic design. This included integrated live feed statistics and analytics to enhance the fan experience, data mining on all databases to enhance content, and also, the SVNS Sundial Clock.

This was used to indicate the passing of each nail-biting minute within each seven minute game half to amplify the tension. Every SVNS Sundial Clock was bespoke to each of the eight tournament locations to bring a different flavour to each geographical location.

Also, AE Live NZ created a dropdown that allows viewers who are switching on the broadcast part of the way through to easily see what they have missed so far. Says Jamieson, “we’re adding a lot more of that sort of stuff in to get closer to the play”.

Inside the production gallery for SVNS in Cape Town in December 2023

Moving forwards

After this very successful first season of the new-look SVNS, we asked Jamieson what he would love to see happening in the broadcast going forwards. He commented: “I’d love a Spidercam at every single event. It would add so much to SVNS because SVNS is such an expansive game because there’s only seven players spread right across the field. So Spidercam would just work well.

“We tried it a bit in the Olympics in 2020 where we did some live play on Spidercam, so it’s end on,” he adds. “Older people hated it, younger people loved it, and younger people said, “oh that’s great, because that’s how we play our video games”. So it’s getting that mix right. Yes, we want to aim for the younger people, but we’ve got to keep the older people happy as well. So Spidercam for me is a big one.”

The SVNS 2024 Grand Final and Play Off events took place at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on 31 May to 2 June 2024.


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