October 22, 2021

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The Sports Fanatics

NIK SIMON’S GAIN LINE: Rubgy chiefs plot eSports venture with 2023 World Cup game in the works

NIK SIMON’S GAIN LINE: Rugby chiefs plot eSports venture with 2023 World Cup game in the works… while Emma Raducanu receives invite to England’s Autumn Internationals

  • Rugby are looking at eSports as a way to make their game more popular 
  • A 2023 World Cup game is planned, hoping to follow other sports’ success 
  • Plus, Emma Raducanu could attend England’s Autumn Internationals 
  • The RFU want to roll the red carpet out for the teenage US Open champion  











Rugby’s power brokers are hoping to break into the eSports market by launching a computer game for the 2023 World Cup.

Conversations have started between World Rugby, the players’ body and their respective unions. All three parties are hoping to reach an agreement over intellectual property rights, which is key for developers to use the players’ names and images. Without such a deal, the game would risk infringing player trademarks.

The most likely format for the game would be built upon international teams, in a France 2023 format, rather than club sides. Rugby has not successfully ventured into eSports since Jonah Lomu Rugby in 1995 and, as first touted by Agustin Pichot last year, a new game could be a significant step in engaging younger generations.

Talks are beginning for a Rugby World Cup 2023 game as the sport looks to the eSports market

Chiefs missing sponsor  

Exeter Chiefs are still in discussions to sort a headline jersey sponsor for this season. 

The Premiership heavyweights kicked off their campaign yesterday with blank jerseys, after the long-term banner deal with SWComms came to an end. 

Club owner Tony Rowe retired earlier this year from the telecommunications company he founded in 1983.

Owens agrees to stay at Scarlets 

Lions hooker Ken Owens has committed his future to Welsh rugby by signing a new contract beyond the 2023 World Cup.

Despite him being sounded out by big-spending clubs in Japan, the Gain Line can reveal Owens has signed on a long-term contract extension with the Scarlets. 

Owens, who featured in all three Lions Tests and has won 82 Wales caps, could become the first ever Welsh hooker to become a Test centurion.

He said: ‘The Scarlets is home for me and I’ve always been fully committed to Welsh rugby. I love it and it’s not something I’d want to walk away from.’

Lions star Ken Owens has signed a new deal with Scarlets, committing himself to Welsh rugby

TV blackout 

One of Simon Massie-Taylor’s first jobs as Premiership Rugby CEO must be to thrash out a terrestrial TV deal.

The league’s broadcast contract with Channel 5 has expired, meaning the weekly highlights show will move online and no fixtures are scheduled to be shown free to air. 

Massie-Taylor is expected to join PRL from the RFU in the coming days.

Emma Raducanu invite  

Emma Raducanu will be sent an open invitation for England’s autumn internationals at Twickenham. 

The RFU want to roll out the red carpet for the US Open champion at the men’s and women’s fixtures in November.

RFU chair Tom Ilube said: ‘We’d be delighted to welcome Emma Raducanu. Even if Emma had not won the final she’d still have made a huge impact, but the public love a story and they love a winner.’ 

Emma Raducanu could be pitch-side for one of England's upcoming Autumn International

Emma Raducanu could be pitch-side for one of England’s upcoming Autumn International 

Monye ditches the dance-floor   

Strictly Come Dancing star Ugo Monye will be hot-stepping his way back into rugby action on Sunday. 

Despite his busy dancing schedule, Monye will be broadcasting from the BT Sport studio in Stratford today for Newcastle’s game against Harlequins.

Howe switches sports 

Out-of-work football manager Eddie Howe was a guest at Saracens’ training in the build-up to their opener against Bristol.

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