We began 2021 when Kayo/Foxtel removed most rugby content. Due to the fact they no longer have the rights. Not just Super Rugby. But also Wallabies & Rugby Championship games. Even the provincial Mitre 10 Cup & Currie Cup.
All they got left now is the English Premiership rugby. Plus the Six Nations, Sevens World Series. And Test matches covered outside of SANZAAR. That would be Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Argentina. Some matches are still on Kayo. But only as away sides regarding outside the SANZAAR content bubble.
You can watch their leftover content right now on Kayo. Only if you cannot get over your rugby fix. But it just will not be here regularly when it comes to Wallabies/Super Rugby. Just like it is used to be over the last 25 years. It will land at a new home over the next 3 seasons. Meet the Nine Network & its paid sub partner Stan.
We still do not know exactly when Stan Sport will be rolled out. It will be most likely be early next month. Just before the new season starts on February 19. But so far it will be an add-on with the $10 a month standard package. I would say an extra $5 month. Nine chose this because to cover the costs. And get the return in investment they need when Nine paid heaps of $$ for the rights. Paying $100 million for three seasons is no joke. That is why they got an option to extend another two years. It will depend on this success.
This is a sport that is not exactly on the same bandwidth as NRL & AFL. We did not have access to a Super Rugby game live ever before. All thanks to Foxtel & the paid TV landscape 25 years back. And just Wallabies games which in my view is an unknown sport to most fans. It may good to cheer on the country. But unable to know the players regularly. When it comes to looking at them in Super Rugby.
But this new Rugby broadcast package is exclusive by Nine/Stan. So the Pay TV world dominated their era back then. Now the streaming subs are on the rise. They are confident it will be profitable. Not just the creation of the sports-only sub service. Nine will also have one Super Rugby game on Saturday Nights plus Finals. Both live on 9now & via linear TV.
Then we look at the crew of what Nine is assembling. It will not be either Gordon Bray or Greg Clark. Both are always respected of this game in Australia. But it is time to have a new face in Sean Maloney. He is young who have called many Super Rugby games before. Only as a 2IC on Fox Sports behind Clarkie. Sean also called the 2019 Rugby World Cup including the final via world feed. And he recently became a panellist on the Aussie Rugby Show. As well as called the Shute Shield games last year as a freelance.
Sean will need a backup none other than Andrew Swain. He also was deputy caller last year on Fox Sports. Not just some Super Rugby games that Clarkie unable to cover. But he called the New Zealand v Argentina game two months ago. That game turned out to be historic when Argentina won for the first time. Andrew was also a senior producer with the production there. And will continue in a similar off-air role here at Nine/Stan.
What about the analysts/panelists involved? Drew Mitchell is always keen in the media having worked for Foxtel before. Drew will definitely be a colour commentator/analyst. But not exactly sure at this stage. Tim Horan will come over from Fox after spending 10 years there.
It will be the first time that Tim last appeared on Free TV since 2010. He was at Channel 7 alongside Gordon Bray & Dan Crowley. Good to see him analysing what is it like to win silverware back in his day. And a good spotter of not just the talent. But gives clues of what a better Wallabies side would achieve long-haul.
I already said numerous times even via phone call to Network 10. Matthew Burke will not jump ship to Nine/Stan. He is contracted there to anchor the sports news in Sydney. Unless they throw the big paycheque to prize him away. That will not happen to reflect their rugby presentation.
They also mentioned Adam Ashley-Cooper as well. Despite not having a TV role before. But he is almost on the retirement ropes from playing. And Nine felt that they can hire AAC. It is because he fits their long-term plans. Plus able to draw back experience against the current All Blacks crop. It is something Drew can analyse all day. But it seems AAC is somewhat tied to coaching right now.
The same goes for Stephen Hoiles who also analysed games before. And is a regular panelist on the Aussie Rugby Show. He would benefit with Drew on this team with the same level of insight. But Steve is tied to coaching right now with the LA Ginitis in Major League Rugby.
Sonny Bill Williams remains a person of interest. He has a brilliant pedigree of both rugby league & union. And is also a ex-All Black with two Rugby World Cups to his name. Plus countless Bledisloes/Rugby Championship wins too. Sonny would no doubt provide a strong perspective of the All Blacks crop. As well as give an unbiased look on the Wallabies talent. I also see Andrew Mehrtens linked to this crew. Mehrts is a Sydneysider at present with his business commitments. But I think he will stick around just for the big events.
Sonny would not be the only one to be on both League & union on Nine. Allana Ferguson would be the latest link to be part of their union content. Now she normally has a league playing background. Especially when Allana is an ex-Jillaroo. She did trial for the Australian Sevens Rugby team before. But injuries stopped her from playing in 2016-2017.
I guess Ruan Sims is a better choice in my opinion. Ruan has rugby expertise in both codes. Then perhaps she is on their league team for most occasions. Plus see her on 100% footy on Monday nights. But Allana has a great analytic mindset since she retired from the game. And Allana would no doubt be a helping hand. Not just contributing to help Rugby in Australia be a major player once again. But to encourage young girls to pick up a ball.
And who will round out as the main host on Nine/Stan? Nick McArdle would be a great addition. Considering his past Rugby experience on Fox. He will be on Free TV for the first time since 2006 which is half a decade. Nick used to be the weekend sports anchor on Seven. Before Fox Sports came him calling for the next 13 years. Nick may have been off the air last year. But awesome to see him back.
We would like to have James Bracey, Erin Molan or Cam Williams onboard. But they are all busy with their usual roles. And it is best to have someone who is passionate about this code. So Nick McArdle is the answer. I would not rule out either of these three when it comes to Wallabies Tests.