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Press Release | 29 Oct 2020

Vodafone and British & Irish Lions unveil new official tour app giving fans the chance to ‘Become a Lion’

Vodafone and British & Irish Lions unveil new official tour app giving fans the chance to ‘Become a Lion’

Official Lions Tour app will be the ultimate second screen experience for Lions fans.

Vodafone UK and Ireland has launched a new cutting-edge app with the British & Irish Lions that will for the first time allow rugby fans to ‘become a Lion’, virtually, and fully immerse themselves in Lions action as the countdown to next year’s Tour continues.

The new official Lions app, available to download now, will offer a range of interactive features, including the ‘Digital Lions’, a fully-animated virtual avatar tool developed using the same technology seen in Fortnite and FIFA.

The ‘Digital Lions’ feature, a first within rugby, will enable fans to interact both with Lions players past and present, and with other fans.

The personalised ‘Digital Lions’ avatars created by supporters will be the first to wear the new British & Irish Lions jersey and fans will be able to share their avatars across social media and messaging platforms. They’ll also be able to bring their avatar to life in 3D augmented reality and choose from a range of animation options. In the coming weeks fans will also discover new ways to personalise their ‘Digital Lion’. This will include being able to base their avatar on a number of traditional player positions – for example prop, second row or scrum-half.

The app will be any rugby fan’s ultimate companion to the much-anticipated 2021 Tour, providing the latest news, fixtures, ticket offers, merchandise and interactive fan experiences, all in one place. Other features include the ‘XV Selector’. This lets users choose their own starting line-up which they can share on social media and messaging platforms as they compare their dream team with their friends and other fans.

As the excitement of the Tour builds, new features will be added to the app, such as the ability to pose with legendary ex-Lions players in augmented reality (AR), the chance for fans to use their avatar to play in-app games, as well as the opportunity to unlock tickets and merchandise.

Next year, when the games are being played, the ambition is for the app to act as an AR portal so fans get a first-person view of all the action in South Africa, from the comfort of their own home. The app’s ‘Match Centre’ feature will provide live updates on all Lions news – from information on the games being played, to scores, scorers, team and match stats.

Max Taylor, Commercial Director, Vodafone UK, said: “We want to give fans the most immersive Lions experience possible. Our new app will be the ultimate in digital self-expression. A fan’s ‘Digital Lion’ will become their companion throughout the build up to the Tour and the Tour itself and will get them closer to the action and other fans than ever before.

The app has everything you would expect and more, from the latest news, fixtures, tickets, competitions and merchandise, through to player stats, fan polls and quizzes. Fans can choose their ‘dream team’ and share it on social, they can take part in in-app games and, once the Tour kicks off, our ambition is that it acts as an augmented reality portal so they can enjoy a first-person view of the action in South Africa through the eyes of their avatar. They’ll also be able to keep up to date with our live ‘Match Centre’ so they never miss a moment. We have designed the official British & Irish Lions app so it will unite the pride like never before.”

Ben Calveley, Managing Director, British & Irish Lions said, “As the countdown to next year’s Tour continues, we are excited to be launching the official Lions app in conjunction with our partners Vodafone.

“This highly innovative app, which features cutting-edge fan engagement functionality such as the ‘Digital Lion’ and ‘XV Selector’, will further complement our digital channels, allowing fans to interact with the Lions in new and exciting ways.

“We have already seen record engagement numbers across our social media channels this year, and we look forward to continuing to deliver best-in-class digital content to Lions supporters all over the world.”

-Ends-

Media Assets & Imagery

Exclusive behind-the-scenes video from the motion capture day with our legend ambassadors.

Imagery: Lion’s legends come face to face with their digital Avatars.

The app can be downloaded from:

The App Store  (iOS)

Google Play Store (Android)

Notes to Editors

About the ‘Digital Lion’

The animations for the ‘Digital Lions’ are based on the movements of real Lions’ legends – Sam Warburton, Paul O’Connell, Ian McGeechan and Jeremy Guscott – who took part in an all-action motion capture day to record their own unique gestures for the avatars.

All avatars, which can be created in both the female and male form, will be able to use those movements throughout the season, giving fans the chance to tackle like Warburton, jump like O’Connell and kick like Guscott.

Warburton, O’Connell, McGeechan and Guscott will be joined by ex-England women’s player Maggie Alphonsi* as Vodafone’s ambassadors for the British & Irish Lions partnership, to champion the partnership and the ‘Digital Lions’ campaign in the lead-up to and during the 2021 Tour. The app is the first in a number of activations that Vodafone is planning for the partnership. The app, and all future activations, will be designed to deliver on the partnership ambition of: Connected by Vodafone. United Behind the Lions, Unlimited Together.

* Due to being pregnant Maggie Alphonsi was unable to participate in the launch activity. She will however feature in future activity.

About Vodafone & Rugby

In July 2020 Vodafone announced its role as Lead Partner of the British & Irish Lions for the 2021 Tour of South Africa. The two brands are united by a shared passion and commitment to connect people to each other and the things they love – the highly anticipated Lions Tour against the World Champions.

The partnership builds on Vodafone’s heritage of bringing technological advances to the rugby fan experience. In May 2019, Vodafone UK announced a two-year partnership with Wasps rugby and Wasps Netball to bring to life the benefits of 5G technology. Two months later, Vodafone worked with Wasps to create the world’s first 5G haptic rugby tackle. Using a haptic Teslasuit and the Vodafone 5G network, Wasps Rugby player Juan de Jongh was able to feel the impact of a tackle made 100 miles away by team mate Will Rowlands.

In October 2019, Vodafone trialled tech during the Wasps vs London Irish match which provided new camera angles and close-ups to get fans involved with the on-pitch play and give them “5Gamechanger seats– the best seats in the house. Video from 360° cameras placed around the pitch – including in the players’ tunnel, dug-out and south stand – was streamed over 5G to give fans a real-time perspective on the game, getting them closer to the action than ever before.

In September 2019, Vodafone Ireland signed an extension agreement to be principal sponsor of the Irish Rugby team and communications partner to the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) until 2024. The agreement also saw Vodafone become official sponsor of the IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship. The multi-year deal will see Vodafone and the IRFU work together to use both new and existing technology to create events, activations and content that will benefit all rugby fans and Vodafone customers in Ireland.

About British & Irish Lions

The British & Irish Lions are one of the most famous teams in the world of rugby. Every four years, the Lions – selected from the national sides of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – head to the southern hemisphere to do battle with rugby heavyweights New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

For more information, please contact the Vodafone UK Media Relations Team.

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of October 2020, we have 5G in 57 locations in the UK and 193 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

In September 2020, leading mobile benchmarking company, umlaut, named Vodafone as London’s best network for 5G. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population. And in October 2020, Vodafone was named Network Provider of the Year by readers of leading technology advice website, Trusted Reviews.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews

Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587