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Rugby World Cup build-up: Even rugby tackles can be ‘contactless’ now

Feel what it’s like to be on the receiving end from a top rugby player without the bruises (we think)!

This Friday, a week before the 2019 Rugby World Cup starts, London fans of the sport will be able to take part in a new virtual reality experience which will allow them to come head-to-head with rugby legends and feel the real power of a professional tackle, using a first-of-its-kind haptic Teslasuit.

In the City of London’s Exchange Square, rugby-lovers will get the chance to feel what it’s like to be tackled by one of Chris Robshaw, Maggie Alphonsi or Jason Robinson.

Of course, the title “legend” is bandied around far too easily nowadays, but we at London Inspire don’t feel it has been misused here. The trio are ambassadors for World Cup partners, Mastercard.

Robshaw, Alphonsi and Robinson are the Mastercard ambassadors making the tough tackles on virtual reality

Robshaw is the flanker who captained England on 43 occasions out of his 66 appearances (only Will Carling with 59 tops that). He is currently captain of the Twickenham-based Harlequins team (main picture).

Aphonsi was also a flanker – for England’s women’s team – featuring 74 times. The Lewisham-born player appeared for Saracens before retiring five years ago.

Northerner Robinson has many claims to fame both as a player of union and rugby league. Perhaps his most notable achievement is that he was the only England player to score a try in England’s 2003 triumph over the Australians.

Mastercard’s Contactless Tackle is the first of its kind, using a haptic feedback bodysuit calibrated to give the wearer the sensation of a rugby tackle. 

The event will start at noon and run until 7pm on Friday 13 September. The experience is open to anyone over the age of 16 willing to give it a try.

As a worldwide partner and preferred card and digital wallet of Rugby World Cup 2019 Japan, Mastercard wants to give rugby fans priceless experiences to bring them closer to their passion.

Nicola Grant, its head of marketing and communications, UK, Ireland, Nordics and Baltics, said: “As a worldwide partner for the Rugby World Cup we hope to connect fans with their favourite sporting idols in new and unexpected ways.

“Leveraging the latest virtual reality and haptic technology means our Contactless Tackle event will be like nothing else fans have experienced before. If you have ever wondered what it feels like to be tackled by a professional rugby player, come along. For most of us, this is as real as it’s going to get!”

The Contactless Tackle can be experienced at Exchange Square, Broadgate, Sun Street Passage.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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