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'Surely this is a joke': New Zealand Rugby lambasted over new investment

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby has raised the heckles of many online fans with their latest curious investment.

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The NZ governing body’s commercial arm (New Zealand Rugby Commercial) has recently purchased 33 ‘World of Women Galaxy’  (WOW) NFTs which, according to the latest press release out of NZR, is ‘a show of support for the Black Ferns, and women’s sport, ahead of the Rugby World Cup’.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens), for those in the dark, are digital items that can be traded on an online marketplace. Each NFT is unique and irreplaceable, with the tokens “digital representations of assets and have been likened to digital passports because each one contains a unique, non-transferable identity to distinguish it from other tokens”, according to Investopedia.

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In layman’s terms, an NFT is like a digital trading card. In theory, they can’t be replicated but if you believe their value lies in their visual identity, anyone can make an exact copy simply by, for example, taking a screenshot of the NFT.

At present, WOW NFTs on average sell for approximately 1,600 USD – suggesting NZRC might have invested almost 90,000 NZD in the digital art.

While NZRC will naturally be hoping to see their investment grow in value over time, experts remain split over whether NFTs are a long-term growth opportunity or represent an investment fad – although a slew of celebrities – including a number of New Zealand rugby players – hold investments in NFTs, suggesting there’s certainly a wide-spread interest in the tokens from those with money to spend.

Not everyone is quite so convinced, however, with online fans disapproving of NZRC’s latest investment and lambasting the decision as another misstep from the organisation that has faced significant criticism in recent times.

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While NZR’s announcement on Twitter was primarily well-received (ostensibly by followers who have also invested in WOW NFTs), the reception on Reddit was considerably less positive.

“Should we give the Black Ferns resources to compete with the Red Roses?” One user wrote, “No let’s spend thousands on a complete scam instead.”

“Seriously, why can’t we get plushies and action figures of players, aka things YOU CAN PHYSICALLY COLLECT???” asked another.

Examples of the WOW NFTs currently available for purchase.
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One user suggested that instead of purchasing NFTs from other sources, NZR should be producing their own: “Any sports organization by now should be SELLING NFTs, it’s a money-making opportunity. The fans should be buying them. Astoundingly daft move.”

While another (who admitted to not understanding NFTs) compared the investment to buying stock in now-defunct VHS and DVD rental store Blockbuster: “I know nothing about crypto or NFTs but a quick Google has told me that they’ve lost about 75% of their value since their launch in March. Doesn’t sound like a brilliant investment on the face of it. ‘To show our support for the Women’s World Cup, we’ve bought 33 shares in Blockbuster.'”

“There are not sufficient words to describe the colossal stupidity of this,” said one critic. “It’s like NZR is a bunch of barely technologically literate pensioners who have asked Google, ‘What is cool with kids in 2022?” and somehow ended up getting conned into buying 33 NFTs.”

Others were more explicit with their criticisms: “Surely this is a joke hahahaha a 5 year old could run NZR better”.

Ultimately, the success of the investment will naturally be determined by whether it generates profit for NZRC – but fans are evidently not happy with where the new commercial arm of NZR is spending some of its finances.

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