Scoring a Try for International Rugby Visitor Attractions

Mather & Co has long been the designer of choice for some of the world’s most iconic rugby museums. Its portfolio includes some of the most well known rugby destinations and its experience of creating visitor attractions is second to none in the sport.

Mather & Co’s customer list includes the Springbok Experience in Cape Town, South Africa; the World Rugby Hall of Fame in Rugby, Staffordshire – the birthplace of the sport; and the Nevin Spence Centre at Ulster Rugby, Northern Ireland dedicated to the memory of Nevin Spence, one of its brightest young players.

These destinations don’t simply house the trophies and memorabilia of the game and its players, but tell the personal stories and political divides that have been crossed by the game of rugby as well as teaching and inspiring future generations. Each of the above destinations has been very different to work on in terms of the objectives set for each venue.

Memorabilia

Sporting museums have a wealth of memorabilia to include in any new attraction. These can be the physical objects; trophies, cups, photos, sporting equipment and records – but this can often also include hours of video footage that must be ‘unravelled’. The Springbok museum in Cape Town contains more than 60 media channels playing across touch screens, monitors and projectors, which requires approximately 14km of cabling – a challenge in itself – but especially for the design team who, in conjunction with the client, historians and specialists, must decide which footage delivers the best moments and delivers the most immersive experience for the visitor.

When Mather & Co started work with the Springbok Experience, it had around 9000 un-catalogued objects and printed records as well as a need to unearth the untold story of black rugby as far back as the 1860’s. This had to be presented in a museum that was interactive, modern and up to date and the narrative to go alongside the memorabilia had to be created to bring the objects to life and tell the story of the history of rugby in a politically divided South Africa. To read the full case study click here.

The World Rugby Hall of Fame located in Rugby, UK provided a similar challenge – with around 180 archive videos that totalled around six hours of available film footage. With such a rich library of content it was really important to ensure visitors could easily access the footage they wanted to relive their favourite moments of the sport.  Digital interfaces such as large scale interactive touch walls and multiuser touch screens encourages visitors to delve into the content and explore the history of the game and select their favourite moments grouped by theme.

Story telling

Rugby is a popular and passionate sport but for many it is often so much more than a game. It is these stories that Mather & Co loves to tell, bringing to life the heritage of a site or a personal story through their connection to the sport. This was never more relevant than at the Springbok Experience. The Webb Ellis cup, presented to the World Cup winning team has witnessed some of the sport’s great moments. The museum tells the story of how rugby crossed the political divide and centred upon the World Cup Final in 1995 when President, Nelson Mandela presented Springbok captain Francois Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup. It was one of the most iconic moments in South African rugby and a pivotal point in South Africa’s history. The two men went on to become firm friends and South Africa’s politics continued to take a turn.  Mather & Co commissioned the larger than life-sized sculptures of both men and placed them in their iconic pose – Mandela wearing his Springbok cap and jersey – in the museum for visitors to relive the moment and consider the political ramifications.

The Nevin Spence Centre is entirely dedicated to the memory of one of Ulster Rugby’s brightest stars and is home of the Ulster Rugby Museum. Using archive footage, images and objects, the museum tells the story of rugby in Ulster from 1854 to the present day. Nevin was just 22 when he died in a tragic accident with his brother and father on the family farm. During his short career he made 11 appearances for the Ireland national under-20 rugby union team and he played twice at the IRB Junior World Championships. He was called up to Ireland’s senior training squad for the 2011 Six Nations Championship and named Young Player of the year at the IRUPA Players’ Awards. The centre tells the story of a boy born and raised in Ulster and playing rugby for his country.

The main body of the museum is focused on club and school rugby, Ulster legends and the modern game. It was designed with school children in mind to inspire the next generation to be the next Nevin Spence. Born, raised, schooled and winning trophies for Ulster. The centre demonstrates the importance of a healthy lifestyle in a very fun environment through physical interactives where visitors can tackle Ulster players and take on the kicking challenge but it is not only the physicality’s of the sport that the museum explores. With Nevin’s name above the door an area of the museum is dedicated to his story displaying a portrait of the star painted by his talented sister alongside some of his personal items including his international cap. The education centre is a unique family experience but also a legacy to the talented player who could teach more to the next generation than any technology.

The Modern Rugby Museum.

Mather & Co has used many features to engage those interested in rugby, and those visitors that may not be rugby fans – and deliver an experience that anyone can enjoy. The attractions should be fun, engaging and keep everyone happy. They include:

  • Virtual and interactive kicking, passing and fitness games
  • The science and technology that underpins the game
  • Digital interactive installations that analyse the health, movement and biology of a player
  • Performance and match analysis
  • ‘Dream Team’ interactives where visitors can choose their dream team
  • Immersive AV footage
  • Digital skills in a broadcast studio – interviewing, broadcasting and editing
  • Photo opportunities where visitors can join their favorite team photo

If you’d like to speak to us about designing a rugby museum or visitor attraction, please get in touch with sam@matherandco.com