More rugby should be on Aussie free to air TV

John Hanrahan Roar Rookie

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    It’s time for an Australian television channel to start showing French and Japanese rugby. With the enormous number of Aussie rugby and league stars playing in these competitions, interest in the games is growing daily.

    Add to the Aussies the number of other international rugby stars playing in the French competition and Kiwis playing in the Japanese sides and you have a rich spread of interest and potential.

    Wallabies, Super 14, All Blacks, Springboks, Irish, Argentinian, British and French stars are littered throughout the French competition.

    A match like the Brumbies clash with Toulon featuring Sonny Bill Williams and Jonny Wilkinson, though a one-off, is another example of what we’re missing.

    While rugby and other sporting fans can find information about their favourite footballers playing in these international leagues on websites, being able to watch the games is clearly what fans want.

    The hits on websites like this one and other sporting sites carrying Rugby runs in to the tens of millions.

    The addition of the matches from Europe and Japan would be just what the pay-tv operators, in particular, desperately want – more new subscribers.

    And into that mix should be thrown either replays of Sydney Premier Rugby’s ABC-TV Match of the Day or, at the very least, a one hour’s highlights package.

    The ABC telecast is on while 95 percent of rugby fans are either playing or attending hundreds of junior and senior games around the city. And ABC-TV news can’t even bring themselves to screen one moment’s highlights of the game in their 7pm. news sports round-up.

    The first step would be for Fox Sports to do a trade-off with some of the highlights from their matches for the ABC footage.

    Premier Rugby, featuring a host of Super 14 players, should then get multiple replays through the week at times that Rugby fans can actually watch it.

    The first objection that would be raised would be the language barrier. Obviously the French and Japanese games are broadcast in the native tongues of both countries.

    But these days, at the Seven Network and as other broadcasters have done, they’ve not bothered to spend the money to send their commentators to cover matches “live” but rather called them from the studios in Sydney.

    And with the right up-to-date information (players, after all, have numbers on their backs) good commentators and producers who do their homework could call them games easily.

    There might even be the facility to find an English speaking commentator in each country who could use one of the broadcast boxes to provide a “local” call, matched with the primary broadcaster’s vision.

    Adding to rugby fans’ frustrations is the overwhelming volume of tedious league games being broadcast, with their girly scrums, repetition and predictability. And with overwrought commentary that often far exceeds the activities on the field.

    Rugby fans, who want the big, explosive, dynamic action and unpredictability of a rugby match are becoming increasingly fed-up, particularly when they are aware of so many entertaining matches being played in Europe and Japan – but there is no opportunity at the moment to see them.

    If Fox Sports won’t do it, Seven or Ten could show some initiative and get the rights to these games and build a new audience, with new sponsors and a new revenue stream.

    However, it will take a combination of a television executive with some initiative and vision and a rugby fan base to make some “noise” by contacting the television stations and asking for these games.

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