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Ready for rugby

Tech vendors of all stripes are keen to tie their brands to major sports stars, teams and events, and the upcoming 2007 Rugby World Cup is no exception.

Tech vendors of all stripes are keen to tie their brands to major sports stars, teams and events, and the upcoming 2007 Rugby World Cup is no exception.

The last time it was held in Australia, in 2003, can be pointed to by many electronics retailers as a catalyst that drove the take-up of flat panel TVs in this country. Indeed, CNET.com.au is aware that many TV manufacturers are planning to have new product ranges in store in time for the start of the 2007 tournament in France this September.

So it's not surprising to be hit already with a few rugby-related announcements. We'll try to keep you updated because, hey, it's this writer's favourite footy code and, well, the Wallabies have won two in a row now.

Vodafone gave up team naming rights to the Wallabies a few years back, and its rugby focus has moved to promoting its new 24-hours-a-day Rugby TV mobile channel on Vodafone live! In what the company claims is the world's first mobile rugby channel, fans with 3G will be able to watch over 150 rugby matches, including the Tri Nations series and, of course, the Rugby World Cup 2007. Major games will be available live (actually with about an eight-second delay) through Vodafone's association with Premier Media Group, the producer behind the Fox Sports TV channels and Fox Sports News. Live coverage will be supplemented with full replays, highlights and archive footage.

Rugby TV costs AU$8 per month through Vodafone mobile TV on Vodafone live! with 3G, which is available in selected metro areas on 3G capable handsets. Coverage details can be found on Vodafone.com.au/coverage.

And proving it hasn't spent everything on Jackie Chan/Yao Ming Olympic commercials, Visa is sponsoring a Rugby World Cup debate. Five ex-rugby "legends" from the leading rugby nations argue such issues as best RWC team, best captain and best try of the previous tournaments on www.visarugby.com. You can watch the videos, download the podcasts, or join in the forums yourself. The are a number of competitions to enter, with the biggest prize being a trip to the 2007 Final in Paris for picking the same best all-time Rugby World Cup XV as the Visa Legends. Hurry though, as that one closes on 15 July.