For the rugby world, we have had the pleasure of witnessing one of the most entertaining, entrances into a rugby journey by a non-rugby person. Enter social media star, Josh Pray.
If you have been unaware of who Josh Pray was prior to his rugby revelation, he has been a major influencer on social media
for several years. Pray, a comedian, an actor, and a musician, has been racking up millions of views through his diverse library of content. Known for his energetic and comedic perspective on pop culture topics, movies, TV shows, and of course, sports.
Of course this leads us to how the rugby world came to learn about Josh Pray
We first witnessed his initial discovery of rugby in mid December of 2018, when he ran into a group of Australians playing in his home town of Naples, FL. It was here where the doorway into the rugby world truly began.
Josh Pray Finds Out About Rugby
Lesson for rugby fans, first impressions do matter. Whether you are playing for a championship or playing socially, how you present the sport can create a ripple effect in how a potential rugby fan engages with the sport.
Now at this point it could have all been over. But we know, when you have gotten a chance to play, a chance to see success, and a chance to enjoy the culture, you definitely will find yourself with greater curiosity in the sport. Also, 1.6 million views on a video adds a bit of motivation for further discovery. Pray, with the recommendation of rugby fans all over the world, decided to enter into the rugby rabbit hole. As an American, there is no greater presentation of rugby on YouTube, than the discovery of the Haka and the All-Blacks.
Josh Pray Learns About The All-Blacks
A lesson learned from this, make sure that there is relevant content for people to look back at. A look at the history of rugby, whether it is domestic or international, can fuel greater emotional connection for who ever is first entering the sport. Understanding why rugby has gotten to where it is at, is as equally important as how to understand rugby on the pitch.
Now, we know that playing the sport and watching some videos don’t necessarily make the rugby fan, though it is heavily influencing, but it wasn’t until the recruiting began.
It seems like it would make sense for a team to want to give some love to a person who has been so excited about a sport, only one seemed to take the offer. Pray was presented with his very first rugby jersey, given by the Major League Rugby team, Austin Elite.
Josh Pray Gets Recruited By Austin Elite Rugby
This is an important lesson for rugby teams, not only do you want to find ways to get new fans excited, but you need to give them something to connect with you. The power of tangible proof of acceptance is not one that should be underestimated. While not every team is capable of providing a jersey or t-shirt, there are other forms of tangible proof of acceptance. Stickers, and stamps, pens and certificates. Things to acknowledge that not only do we accept you into our fold, but we also want you to have a token that you are part of the community. This is how you create deeper established relationships with the fans and supporters.
As we make it to the present, we see the rise of fandom from Pray. Starting from grassroots casual rugby play, rising to being honored by the Major League Rugby team, Austin Elite, there was no way Pray could top that. Enter the Utah Warriors. Recognizing that they would not be topped, and weren’t going to lose ground to one of their opponents, they raised the bar by not only sending a jersey, and a customized rugby ball, they also went so far as to make him an honorary Utah Warrior, with a promotional poster. If this wasn’t how rivalries are started, it’s hard to acknowledge any more obvious ways.
Josh Pray Gets Recruited By Utah Warriors
Final lesson to be learned here. It’s Ok to let your potential rugby fan show their support in their own special way. The added unique identity can only add to the growth of the rugby community. While framed within the culture of your team and the sport, the way that a new rugby fan engages will end up being one of the best mouthpieces for your team, that you never realized you needed.
At this point, it’s to be determined where Josh Pray will lean between these teams. Or perhaps he’ll discover new teams from a collegiate, or club level close to him. Either way, it’s clear that Pray may be one of the most fun examples of what bringing in a new fans to the sport really is. When the Utah Warriors travel to Austin, TX to take on the Austin Elite on February 1st, the next step in Pray’s rugby journey will provide us with more entertainment, and more lessons.