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Status: proposed
Registry: World Rugby Strategic Developments Limited
Registry Backend: GoDaddy
Type: gTLD
Category: Sport
Priority #: 278 - International Rugby Board
400 - Donuts (Atomic Cross, LLC)
1322 - Famous Four Media (dot Rugby Limited)

.rugby is new generic top level domain name (gTLD) proposal for the rugby sports community to ICANN's New gTLD Program.

The International Rugby Board (IRB), rugby's governing federation made up of 118 IRB member countries representing more than 5.5 million registered players across all continents, released a press release stating that the application submitted by IRB Strategic Developments Limited is the only rugby application supported by the international rugby community. The application was founded on a mandate by the Board, and the Board seeks to ensure that the TLD is restricted, used in the best interests of the game of rugby and the rugby community.[1]

A Community Objection by the IRB against the other two applicants was decided in favor of the IRB, thus removing Donuts and Famous Four Media from the contention set.

Current Applicants

  1. Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. & The International Rugby Board (IRB), in partnership with ROAR Domains are applying for the TLD. Minds + Machines has been selected by the organization to provide the back-end registry services. IRB's objectives in applying for the TLD are to serve the interest of the global rugby stakeholders, to promote the sport and its values and to protect its trademarks.[2] [3] [4] The applicant has filed a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.

Previous Applicants

  1. Famous Four Media (dot Rugby Limited), one of 61 applications filed by the company. The applicant has filed a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here. The International Rugby Board filed a Community Objection against this application.[5]
  2. Donuts (Atomic Cross, LLC), one of 307 applications filed by the company. The applicant has filed a public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here. The International Ruby Board filed a Community Objection against this application.[6]

GAC Early Warning

The applications from Famous Four Media and Donuts were both issued a GAC Early Warning by the United Kingdom. The warning system is noted as a strong recommendation on behalf of national governments to the ICANN Board that a given TLD application should be denied as it stands. Applicants are encouraged to work with objecting GAC members.[7]

The warnings state that the application submitted in conjunction with the International Rugby Board, which is the largest, officially recognized governing body for the sport, should by given priority about the other two applications. It notes that while the application was not submitted as a Community Priority Application, it is a Community TLD, if not technically so under ICANN's rules. It recommends that the other two applicants withdraw their applications.[8][9]

In correspondence detailed below, between ROAR Domains and Donuts, the former boasted that it had recieved 4 GAC Early Warnings, including this correspondence by the U.K.[10]

Donuts Responds

Donuts responded via Jon Nevett in a written letter to the U.K. GAC representative that it later made public on its website. It argues that it would be a better steward of .rugby as it has no vested interested other than in the health and security of the TLD, and not in the rugby related content. They note that ROAR Domains seems to essentially be seeking community status even though it did not choose to apply as a community applicant. It further notes that it believes their threats that they will file objections in an effort to see their competition, including Donuts, thrown out. Mr. Nevett notes that he understands the logic and looks forward to a debate about what constitutes a legitimate objection. Lastly, Jon emphasizes that it is not up to governments to pick winning and losing applications for gTLDs, despite the fact that ROAR Domains and its partners seem to hope they can do exactly this.

The full Donuts response can be seen here.

ROAR Domains v. Competition

In January 2013, Donuts published correspondence showing that ROAR Domains, which is in partnership with Top Level Domains Holding Ltd. and has the backing of the International Rugby Board, has been actively seeking ways to intimidate and see its competition disqualified from the string. This is in regards to both its .rugby and its .basketball bid, for which it has the backing of the International Basketball Federation, both are contested by portfolio-applicant Donuts. Thus, they are apparently pushing for Donuts to be disqualified outright from the New gTLD Program. Such criticism of Donuts have previously been based on allegations about poor domaining practice, such as claims that Donuts co-founder Paul Stahura was involved with an excessive amount of UDRP cases with his former company, eNom. ROAR Domains wrote to Donuts, saying, "while we have no desire to join the chorus of voices speaking out against Donuts, it is incumbent on us to pursue the automatic disqualification of Applicant Guidebook Section 1.2.1, and every opposition and objection process available to us." Section 1.2.1 focuses on the applicant background check. Additionally, the International Rugby Board wrote to Donuts, saying, "As the global representative of the sport and the only applicant vested with the trust and representation of the rugby community, we are unquestionably the rightful steward of .RUGBY.… Without the support of the global rugby community your commercialization efforts for .RUGBY will be thwarted. We are also preparing an objection to file against your application in accordance with ICANN rules to which you will be required to dedicate resources to formulate a response."[10]

ROAR seemingly also boasted about obtaining 4 GAC warnings on behalf of its applications and noted that the complaints should see their way through to official GAC Advice.[11]

Community Objection

The IRB filed Community Objections against the other two applicants. The objections were merged into a single case and decided by ICC panelist Mark Kantor. The panelist decided in favor of the IRB, therefore forcing Donuts and Famous Four Media out of the contention set.[12]