United Rugby Championship
Having led the rebrand of the United Rugby Championship, we were given the unique opportunity to steer the direction of one of the brands most important and iconic assets, the championship trophy.
We collaborated with award winning product design agency Matter to design a trophy that is grounded in the brands essence and feels unique in the world of sport.
Looking across the world of sport, you will see many trophies. However, most take a similar approach when it comes to design, and they often feel detached from the brands that they represent.
As the URC is a new championship, there was an amazing opportunity to link the trophy design to the actual brand itself and create something that not only had visual similarities, but also reflected the narrative and idea at the heart of the brand.
Having heard from coaches and players who had won trophies in the leagues past life as the PRO14, there was a requirement for the trophy to have a certain weight and size, and to be able to drink from it and enjoy the taste of victory.
Taking all these things into consideration, the overarching aim was to challenge the conventions of trophy design and produce a solution that is unique in the world of sport.
Born out of the brand
From the very beginning, our idea was to use the 'A Different League' positioning as the basis for all of our concepts. We wanted the solution to stand out amongst other major sporting trophies and not to follow the same design tropes.
We particularly wanted to focus on the 'Unified Not Uniform' brand principle and communicate the unity and diversity of the league, which is inherent in the brand and its name.
The iconic nature and shape of the logo also felt as though it had to be an integral part of any design concept.
The project took a conceptual approach to explore ways in which to express the URC principles in physical elements, such as form, materiality and interaction.
The breadth of early creative work allowed the team to collate a schematic concept with a physical presence and strong narrative, unique to the brand. From here the concept was refined for manufacture, with an immersive depth of detail into materials and finishes that bring cultural diversity, raw strength and progressive technologies in contrast with traditional, sterling silversmithing.
The result was a trophy we named 'The Array'.
The external cradle is a collision of four U-forms, derived from the ‘U’ of ‘United’ in the URC logo. 3D printed in a super-strong alloy with a raw, pitted finish, the cradle is a progressive homage to the strength and power of the sport. Each U-form represents one of the four regional conferences. The cradle imbues the brand value of unity in visual iconography, regional representation and by providing multiple hand-holds for a team to raise the trophy.
Lantern & crown
Suspended in the centre, the lantern represents the championship. A traditional and exquisite piece of silversmithing, embellished with the history and stories of champions. Raised above, in dominant triumph, the crown is unique to each season and each champion. A piece that can be retained for trophy cabinets and a limited edition design asset for sponsorship partners, player medals and collectable fan merchandise.
Designed primarily to be raised, held and celebrated, the trophy delivers on the scale and gravitas worthy of rugby champions. Engaging audiences at showcase moments beyond finals day was also a key aspect of the design, and on-plinth, the trophy can be illuminated and revolved to bring its full spectacle to life.
And finally, yes, the victorious team can also drink from it.
From day one we knew there was a unique opportunity to create a trophy that was not only closely linked to the story of our brand, but also help the URC stand out in the world of sport.
Thisaway and Matter helped bring this vision to life with unparalleled creativity. They provided thoughtful ideation and exceptional execution throughout the process.
We believe we have created something really special, and seeing the players lift the trophy was a proud moment for us all.