To get Americans ready for two rugby league games in Vegas, the NRL has recruited the Gladiator.
Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe has explained the rules of rugby league in a five-minute ad that is playing on US TV and social media, where it has already gone viral. To help make it easier for the intended audience, he describes the NRL’s laws in the context of the NFL.
“It’s football, but not as you know it,” he says to start. “No helmets, no pads, no timeouts. National Rugby League is unleashed for the very first time in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas.”
Crowe, who owns the NRL’s South Sydney Rabbitohs, calls rugby league “arguably the fastest, most aggressive, ball-in-hand football game that exists,” adding that players play “both offence and defence”.
As well as going viral on TikTok, the video caught a lot of attention on the r/Sports subreddit, with many commenters saying it convinced them to tune in.
“Ok, I’m in,” wrote one person. “I’m 44 years and I only just this minute became a rugby fan.”
“That was such a good breakdown,” said another. “I suddenly feel like I could watch a match and actually have an understanding of what’s going on.”
“I wish Russel would sit next to me during the match and tell me what’s going on,” a third added.
“Interesting how in rugby you actually have to touch down the ball to score in the end zone,” a fourth pointed out.
After the success of this ad, it will be interesting to see the crowd that turns up to the games in Vegas. They’ll go down on March 3 (NZT), with the Manly Sea Eagles taking on Crowe’s Rabbitohs before the Sydney Roosters take on the Brisbane Broncos.
Next year, I'm hoping the Warriors get the Vegas game because the US would love them immediately - imagine the power of an additional 300 million people screaming ‘Up The Wahs’.