Maro Itoje believes Super Bowl-style entertainment can benefit rugby union
Maro Itoje has urged rugby administrators to stage Super Bowl-style entertainment to bring the game to a wider audience.
Over 29 million homes across the United States watched the likes of Mary J Blige, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent perform at halftime in the clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams last weekend.
Represented by Jay-Z’s “Roc Nation Sports,” Itoje believes the NFL’s approach to its flagship event should be emulated by a sport trying to broaden its appeal.
“I haven’t seen the Super Bowl but I’ve seen the halftime show and that would be amazing if somehow that could be replicated in rugby,” said the second row from England.
“It was a spectacle and a lot of people are talking about what a great match it was, but the halftime show drew a lot of eyes to the Super Bowl itself, so it’s mutually beneficial.
“These artists – this is almost the hottest ticket in town – have a chance to perform in a halftime show, so I’m sure they’re very lucky.
“The show was brilliant and if that could somehow be replicated in rugby that would be great.”
Even without a significant half-time show, Twickenham easily sells out each time England renew their rivalry with Wales.
The defending champion Wayne Pivac arrives in south-west London for the third round of the Guinness Six Nations next Saturday and Itoje knows the hosts may need to win the game several times.
“Games against Wales are always intense and tough. There is a lot of passion and a lot of pride on both sides of the field,” Itoje said.
“They tend to be fun, high-pressure games — the games you want to be in. These are the games you want to play.
“Wales is a team that never gives up. Wales are no slouch, they have a very good team, a very good team and they play good rugby.
“They are a team that requires concentration throughout the game.
“These Six Nations are open. On this day anyone can beat anyone. This tournament is about being brave and trying to do your best.
“If you make too many mistakes you fall behind, so let’s be brave, do our best and take the opportunities that we have in front of us.”