Inside the making of Rugby World Cup’s ‘soundtrack trophy’

October 26, 2023 | By Vicki Hyman

Traditionally, a trophy is simply a shiny memento of a winning moment, but memories are made of more than the final score — the spirit of the stadium, the cheers of the crowd and the excited play-by-play from broadcasters.

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of rugby’s invention this year while also looking to the future, Mastercard — the worldwide partner of the Rugby World Cup 2023, currently underway in France — commissioned specially made trophies that double as speakers, mixing together music tracks, broadcast highlights, fan cheers, and Mastercard’s signature sonic melody to capture the story of each match.

French music producer Surkin worked with Songø, an international collaborative of musicians specializing in Afropop and soul, and Philippine, an emerging French singer-songwriter, to create unique rugby-themed soundtracks for the trophies to be presented to the outstanding player of each match. Each track was uploaded into the trophy and presented moments after the final whistle.

During the semifinals matches last weekend, bronze match Friday and the final match Saturday, the artists are working together in a recording studio to create new live tracks that reflect the exciting action on the pitch and the effort and passion of the world's best players taking part.

The Mastercard Newsroom recently spoke to Songø singer Sisanda Myataza and Philippine about the opportunity to create these one-of-a-kind sonic trophies.  

What elements from the game of rugby did you think about when creating your music? 

Philippine: I wasn’t really thinking of elements, but the feeling. The feeling of winning, the adrenaline when you’re playing with your team, the rush of a match, the excitement before going on the field! 

Myataza: The history of rugby, and the 200th anniversary of the sport. The tournament taking place in beautiful locations all over France … Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! All the different cities coming alive, packed stadiums … a vibrant atmosphere. 

Philippine, above, and the musical group Songø, banner photo, with singer Sisanda Myataza second from right, worked with music producer Surkin to create unique soundtracks for Rugby World Cup's Player of the Match trophies. 

Can you describe your songwriting process? Was it different this time, knowing you were creating a song for a tournament and soundtrack trophy, compared to writing for your fans?  

Philippine: Writing a track for this kind of event is new for me, so to get inspired I watched matches to find the kind of energy I wanted to deliver. I also listened to huge artists like Shakira and Queen who have created stadium tracks.  

True story: The day I received the soundtrack instrumental, I created the vocals for the whole song 10 minutes later and then quickly wrote the lyrics. The process was super fun, and I wanted to try something new by writing in French and English. I even have a part where I rap in French — who knew!

Myataza: Usually, the other members of the band send me music and I write the melody and lyrics, or I bring one of my compositions and someone else proposes an element to the group. Then we work on it together and tie it up with the Songø string of magic. It personally felt easier for me to write according to this creative brief for the soundtrack trophy. My mind floats all over the place when it’s an original composition, and the sky’s the limit! But with this, it was clear what the assignment was, which was an exciting and fun challenge!   

When you were writing the songs, were you thinking about them being the soundtracks to some of the biggest sports matches in the world?

Myataza: Rugby is a popular sport in South Africa, where I was born, and my husband is a big fan — let’s just say I’ve seen a few games! So I had to close my eyes and transport myself back to one of my favorite games — when South Africa won against England at the Rugby World Cup in 2019. If the Mastercard Player of the Match trophy can capture epic moments like those, but merged with contemporary music written by France’s emerging talent? Then it certainly will be magic! 

Philippine: When I wrote the song, I was clearly dreaming of an entire stadium singing the chorus, and I still can’t believe how lucky I am doing this for such an awesome, worldwide event! 

Vicki Hyman, director, communications, Mastercard