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Ellis Genge backs proposal for Superbowl-style half-time shows at Rugby World Cup

Superbowl-style half-time shows at next year’s Rugby World Cup would help win over new fans, claims England prop Ellis Genge, after he signed up with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency

England prop Ellis Genge has backed proposals for NFL-style half-time shows to revolutionise next year’s World Cup.

Genge has signed up with Jay Z’s Roc Nation agency, who played a key role in securing Rihanna as the headline act for the 2023 Super Bowl.

Rugby is desperate to engage new audiences and Roc Nation CEO Michael Yormark recently met the World Cup’s organising committee to discuss a ‘major opening event’.

Half-time breaks in rugby matches do not traditionally exceed 15 minutes but Genge believes the sport needs to be open-minded to embrace change.

‘My friends only come to watch games because I’m playing,’ said Genge. ‘If you bring in an artist they like then a lot more people from that demographic will come.

‘Half time is 15 minutes in rugby so they will do well to build a stage and get a star on and off in that time. But these are the challenges we have to think about and push. Potentially we could get more treatment at half-time and come out feeling a bit looser.

‘It’s always been the same. That is an issue with rugby. There are lots of things that have always been the same and that is why we need change. If you are scared to change you will get the same thing over and over again. Why not hit the reset button?’

English club rugby is currently battling with overcrowded fixture lists, with Genge unable to play in Friday night’s game against Newcastle because of load management. He believes a slimmed-down playing calendar could improve the spectacle.

‘I guarantee you 100 per cent of teams at the weekend have a knock or a niggle,’ said Genge, who was speaking at the Leaders Week conference. ‘Everyone’s hurting and it’s just about who overcomes that the best.

‘Imagine the product you’d get if you could rest people more effectively, bring in half time shows, make the games more spectacular and see people at their best, maybe every other week.’

With the domestic club game struggling with an ageing audience, Genge also believes the sport should tap further into the growing world of sport’s documentaries.

‘I’m aware of what needs to change for rugby to be viewed differently,’ said Genge.

‘All my friends think it’s just chinos and blazers and to be fair it probably is right now. My mum never watched F1 in her life but she watched Drive to Survive and now she absolutely loves it. That’s a woman who grew up in Bristol, worked as a secretary for 15 years, and never had anything to do with cars. 

‘You can see the power a really well produced documentary can have on everyone around the world. Domestically in the Premiership I think it would be brilliant. Everyone needs to open up, coaches included.’

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