Fox Sports is both a blessing and a curse

Jumping on board the Waratahs’ bandwagon in 2015 turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. It gave me the taste of victory, a sweet tease of the nectar of success that the Waratahs would not be able to emulate for the next five years. The curse comes from being a long-suffering Waratahs […]

Fox Sports is both a blessing and a curse

Jumping on board the Waratahs’ bandwagon in 2015 turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

It gave me the taste of victory, a sweet tease of the nectar of success that the Waratahs would not be able to emulate for the next five years.

The curse comes from being a long-suffering Waratahs fan, combined with the implosion that Australian rugby has managed to navigate itself towards in recent years. It has not been particularly fun being a rugby fan, but for some reason I’ve stuck with it.

Much of that negativity, somewhat oddly, has come from those that are meant to have a strong stake in supporting and growing the game, Fox Sports. Without delving deep into the drama of broadcast negotiations, NewsCorp campaigns against Raelene Castle, and that social media post, it’s fair to say Fox’s coverage of rugby has dwindled to a shadow of what it used to be.

Axing popular presenters such as Sean Maloney, Drew Mitchell and in particular the highly respected Nick McArdle has reduced the commentary team to centre around the talents of Phil Kearns. While he seems to have responded to the uproar around his negative commentary, his coverage still outwardly lacks basic enthusiasm for the game, despite his pedigree.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The failures of Fox Sports are many, but that’s not what I want to focus on.

Instead, there are actually many blessings that are coming from the rise of (somewhat) independent media.

In the vacuum of analysis, commentary and engagement has come a large number of contenders to fill that void.

The Roar continues to provide astute commentary and analysis in the form of regular contributors such as Nick Bishop (tactical analysis), Brett McKay (Australian commentary and analysis), and Geoff Parkes (governance and whole-game insight). Perhaps we simply need a return of the Cheap Seats to round out The Roar’s offering? Over to you, Brett…

Beyond this, RugbyAU has picked up their game and is now offering regular podcasts such as Rugby Nation with Nick McArdle and Christy Doran (formerly of Fox Sports), and Captain’s Corner with George Gregan. Doran has also taken over the reins from Beth Newman and is providing an engaging level of provocative headlines combined with informative journalism that is great to read.

Morgan Turinui and Ben Kimber teamed up with RugbyPass to offer The Tight Five live show on a Sunday night, with a combination of insightful commentary, quality interviews and Morgan’s analysis of key moments in the weekend’s games.

In addition, there are smaller independent podcasts. Caleb Timu’s Timu Time covers a wide range of topics including rugby, marriage, faith and addictions, with guests ranging from Taniela Tupou to reggae artists. Berrick Barnes’ The Ball and All had an absolutely fascinating interview with Raelene Castle after her axing, while Green and Gold Rugby love to tease us with their inconsistent yet highly enjoyable offerings. I’ve also teamed up with my close mate Mitch Foster to launch The Pick and Drive Rugby Podcast.

Perhaps the failure of Fox Sports to provide engaging media for the game they’ve paid for, and may well be paying for beyond 2020, has provided a blessing in disguise.

Yes, Australian rugby is not in a healthy place and may well struggle for the next few years. But what we’ve seen over the last six months has been the initiative of people who love the game to commit to supporting it in whatever way they can, be they professional or independent.

The diatribe coming from mainstream media has been disheartening, but when you look beneath the surface there are fresh shoots pushing through to the surface. That’s why I remain positive about rugby in Australia, both now and into the future.

Source : The Roar More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

Qualifying final is the Reds’ to lose, but don’t just dismiss the Rebels’ chances

Recent form says there’s only one possible winner. On the one hand we have the Queensland Reds, who’ve just knocked off the minor premiers in a one-sided affair which followed a 52-point drubbing of the Force and a three-tries-to-nil win over the Rebels. On the other we have that very Melbourne side, who only just […]

Qualifying final is the Reds’ to lose, but don’t just dismiss the Rebels’ chances

Recent form says there’s only one possible winner.

On the one hand we have the Queensland Reds, who’ve just knocked off the minor premiers in a one-sided affair which followed a 52-point drubbing of the Force and a three-tries-to-nil win over the Rebels.

On the other we have that very Melbourne side, who only just scraped past the Force by the four points required to make the finals – the same Force the Reds put a half-century on a fortnight earlier – after losing their previous two fixtures.

Open up the formlines beyond the past three weeks, though, and the picture becomes more complicated. Prior to Super Rugby AU, the Reds had won just two of their previous seven matches against the Melbourne side, although they admittedly lost a lot of matches regardless of the opposition for much of that stretch.

The two sides share a distinct unfamiliarity with the post-season. Queensland haven’t made it out of the regular season since 2013, while Saturday will be the first final in Rebels history. How they each handle the pressure that comes with knockout rugby is one of the unknowns heading into this match.

Given the Rebels have so consistently floundered in the hunt for crucial late-season wins over the last three years, the advantage is likely to lie here with the Reds, but Brad Thorn’s team – James O’Connor aside – are young. There’s more experience in the visitors’ changeroom, and finally breaking their finals hoodoo, even if it was by the slimmest margin possible, may free up Melbourne to rediscover their best.

James O’Connor. (Photo by Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images)

One area where that will be critical is in attack. For all the Wallaby experience they have there, the Rebels’ backline hasn’t clicked for a full 80 minutes in Super Rugby AU. They’ve been good in some patches and drifted out of others.

Whatever the cause of that – and some of the fault lies with a similarly inconsistent forward group – Dave Wessels needs his side finding their full scoring potential against a Reds outfit which has conceded a combined grand total of 15 points in their last three outings.

It was against the Rebels when that defensive streak started, a superhuman second-half effort from Queensland keeping Melbourne scoreless but for an eighth-minute penalty. And yet it’s worth digging into that match to look beyond the 19-3 scoreline.

It’s quite remarkable the visitors didn’t leave Suncorp Stadium with a win, let alone a single try. They dominated possession and territory and even crossed the tryline on multiple occasions but were unable to ground the ball, a penchant for squandering opportunities which has continued to mar their play.

However, Melbourne will field an improved backline tomorrow. Matt To’omua will play at flyhalf, not Andrew Deegan, while Dane Haylett-Petty made a strong return from injury and pushes Reece Hodge from fullback into midfield.

Also worth noting in the August defeat was To’omua’s early exit due to injury. Forced off in the 47th minute with a head knock, he was on the sidelines for much of the time Melbourne were camped in the opposition 22, and his absence was painfully obvious.

Matt Toomua reacts after a loss

Matt To’omua could only watch on for much of the Rebels’ last loss to the Reds. (William West/AFP via Getty Images)

One player wouldn’t have made all the difference, but To’omua’s playmaking and game management were missed. So too his leadership – as captain on the night, you can’t imagine him opting to pack a scrum down five metres out after consecutive penalties from the lineout. Had they taken the correct option and kicked for touch, the Rebels would likely have either found themselves playing against 14 men with the score at 14-3 or closed the gap with still a quarter of the match to play.

Instead, Tate McDermott was able to hold Isi Naisarani up off the back of the scrum, and the full cohort of Reds literally tackled the pants off the visitors and kept them scoreless for the half – and pinch a game-sealing five-pointer of their own.

To’omua and regular captain Haylett-Petty add a welcome dose of experience to the Rebels lineup compared to the one which wasn’t able to find the Suncorp tryline a few weeks ago, which alone makes them a more dangerous prospect.

The other major change for Melbourne comes in the back row, with Wessels opting for a dual sevens combination on the flanks in Richard Hardwick and Brad Wilkin. That decision was the only thing approaching a surprising selection as the teams were named largely as expected, but it appears a sensible choice.

Aside from probably being the Rebels’ form breakaways, the two opensides offer the side their best chance of countering the mobility and ruck presence of Liam Wright and Fraser McReight, who have been the best flanker pairing in Super Rugby AU. They were superb in the aforementioned win over Melbourne, and it’s no coincidence Queensland’s two losses of the campaign so far came with a different 6-7 combination.

All of that isn’t to say this is suddenly Melbourne’s game to lose – far from it. The Reds are playing excellent rugby, showing none of the profligacy in attack their opponents have. Their forward pack is the best in the competition – lineout throwing aside – and their backline is right up there too.

No, the Reds are certainly deserved favourites. Just don’t assume tonight’s match is a sure thing. Finals rarely are.

Source : The Roar More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.