WWE, NEP Tag-Team Atlantic Rugby Cup Production in Bermuda — All in the Name of Charity

NEP supplied the gear, WWE provided crew for fourth-annual fundraiser

Last month, WWE and NEP came together to produce and stream a pair of matches from the Atlantic Rugby Cup in Bermuda. The four-year-old annual event raises money for Beyond Rugby Bermuda, which helps teach children the importance of staying in school and everyday life lessons through the sport of rugby. NEP supplied the equipment, and WWE provided the crew for the all-volunteer production effort, which was streamed on FloRugby.com.

“This was an all-volunteer effort using five people to cover a full remote that might have normally had 20,” says Marty Pingree, VP, event technical operations, WWE. “WWE production has experience with weekly live TV broadcasts and covering wrestling in all its forms from championship matches to award shows. Rugby, however, was a brand-new sport for all of us, so we had to learn quickly what was considered normal coverage, and it’s always important to WWE to exceed fan expectations.”

Foreground: (from left) Play-by-play caller John Broker and analysts Jamie George and JBL inside the booth

NEP donated a customized flypack for the event, which comprised two matches: the URugby Collegiate All-Star Cup (Texas All-Stars vs. Liberty Conference All-Stars) and the main event, featuring the London-based Saracens vs. the USA Islanders. The flypack, consisting of 62 cases and a ROPAK full of cable, was designed and built at NEP headquarters in Pittsburgh before being shipped to Bermuda,

“It was important to keep this low-impact for NEP, since it was all a donation,” Pingree explains. “NEP’s [Pittsburgh] location is a very dynamic location, and space to work is tough to get. NEP could not have been more helpful to the cause of Beyond Rugby. I was provided with engineering support (engineers walking by asking what’s going on and staying to help) and good old-fashioned lending a hand to load gear and supplies to get this built and packed for the long trip to Bermuda.”

An interview on the field in Bermuda

DHL also shipped the system from Pittsburgh to Bermuda and managed customs issues free of charge in the name of charity.

Onsite in Bermuda, the production consisted of two Sony HDC-1000 studio cameras and four Sony HDC-1500R handhelds. WWE supplied a NewTek 455 TriCaster, which provided the program feed and the transmission stream to FloRugby. The production featured a standard three-person announce position (play-by-play caller John Broker and analysts Jamie George and retired wrestler JBL), as well as a roving reporter. Besides Pingree, who served as technical manager, the production team comprised director Marty Miller; producers Mike Mansury and Lee Lipschutz; Technical Director Josh Welt; and A1 Cary Steadman.

The day after the event, the WWE production team was invited to a dinner that brought together all the participants of the event and Beyond Rugby with a group of young people who directly benefited from the charity. JBL, a WWE announcer, served as emcee for the event, introducing and interviewing many of the children on stage.

“We heard several accounts of hardship and grief that these kids had to overcome,” says Pingree. “They let us hear how their lives were transformed and improved by getting involved with rugby, how rugby challenged them to be strong and to be successful, as well as how to overcome adversity. After hearing these accounts and seeing their faces, all of us were especially proud that we could support this cause.”

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