The 2017 tour to New Zealand was Sotic’s third as digital provider to the British & Irish Lions.
With a playing squad drawn from the very best of the four unions of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Lions tour just once every four years. To be selected for the squad, and to pull on the famous red jersey is the pinnacle in the career of any of these players.
The first match of the 2017 tour was played on 3rd June – the culmination of nearly two year’s work on the digital platform.
The lionsrugby.com site was originally launched in November 2015 on the Opentext CMS, but as part of planned development and continual improvement was entirely rebuilt on WordPress, quietly launching a couple of weeks ahead of the first match.
There’s lots to shout about on this site. Not only did it look great and offer simple navigation, it was also rock-steady, hosted on AWS and stable despite huge surges in traffic in very short spaces of time around matches.
It also offered numerous opportunities for the Lions’ commercial partners, determined to drive value from their investment, through on-site advertising, sponsored mixed-media content, powerful imagery, competitions and more.
However, our favourite part of this site was its live offering and matchcentre, so crucial given the time difference between the UK and New Zealand, with many people following games in work. The Lions digital team complemented these with the use of LiveBlogging throughout the tour.
The homepage of the site flipped to direct fans to the matchcentre from about an hour before kick off each morning, with the main site navigation still accessible through the menu. Anyone visiting the site for a quick update could quickly and easily see key match information such as scores, stats and dip into the live blog.
The player profiles were also on point with real-time stats, comprehensive biographies and live images. The Lions used our Digital Asset Management system to centralise and store all their photography from the 2017 tour and as well as providing a safe repository for all these invaluable assets, the DAM system populated the front end of the website through powerful tagging functionality. Any images tagged with a player name or fixture ID when uploaded to the DAM system were automatically pushed through automatically to designated areas on the site ,as well as showing up in search.
Check out all Captain Sam Warburton’s images feeding directly from the DAM system to his profile page or all the images from the Second Test which were coming through in-real time.
Finally, in a side project, Sotic also worked with the Lions Team and their data provider SFMS to develop the ‘Your Club Your Lions’ portal.
An online library of more than 800 players, Your Club Your Lions is a portal which plots every single rugby club to have had a hand in producing a British & Irish Lion, going right back to the very first Tour in 1888.