Rugby is still too cliched off the pitch, says New Zealand’s Ardie Savea, adding that it could attract new audiences by adopting a more American marketing and social media approach.
The All Blacks star, who regularly posts dance videos as well as insights into his Pacific Islander culture on TikTok, also believes players should start showing off more of their personality and “uniqueness”.
@ardie_saveaTiktok I’m back hahahaha did I do it right 🥴😂 lesssgooo♬ original sound – Ardie Savea
Siya Kolisi is already picking up on what Savea is throwing down, the Springbok skipper leading the ‘pop and lock’ with his Sharks teammates and the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir.
“In rugby, it’s always the cliche [sic] answers because people are scared of stepping out of the bubble,” Savea told the Daily Mail. “But I feel like sport and society is moving to a new mindset of embracing people’s uniqueness. If being authentic means being different then that’s OK.
“With the metaverse and the virtual world, maybe people could actually be at the stadium on a virtual land. By moving things in that space and being innovative in those kind of ways, I feel like rugby will start capturing the young generation.
“The old rugby was hard, tough, don’t show emotion. You wouldn’t see hard staunch men doing a TikTok dance but it’s the way the world’s moving. I love my music. I love dancing with my kids. Me and Jules [his brother Julian Savea], we dance with our kids and that’s been a massive part of my life.”
The Hurricanes loose forward added: “I don’t even watch American football but when I consume content on the social channels and you see [NFL star] Odell Beckham Jnr dancing, I feel like rugby is slowly moving to that direction, around people embracing the personalities, but I still feel like there’s a lot more room to work with.
“I love [the NBA’s] LeBron James just ‘cos of not what he does on the court but all the stuff he does off it, all the things that he does to give back to his community, building courts and etcetera.”