By Lorraine Genia – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia Rugby) have announced, through New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, the telecasting of free-to-air rugby matches throughout the Pacific.
These matches include selected Super Rugby games, the Rugby Championships, and ITM Cup matches in New Zealand, with coverage to begin as early as 2016.
In 2014, SANZAR engaged in the same deal for free-to-air presence in Australia, with Ten Network Holdings covering one match of the Super Rugby each week.
With rugby union showing signs of growth in the region, particularly with Fiji’s success on the World Series Sevens Circuit, and now another appearance in the Rugby World Cup, the broadcasting of games is said to assist in the expansion of the sport.
Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Niue, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa will be beneficiaries of this deal.
Key said at the announcement in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea during the Pacific Islands Forum, “the explanation appears to be that a lot of rugby players come out of the Pacific and they’re very keen as the rights holders to promote more sports. I guess in essence, they’re hoping there will be more Pacific Islands players who take up rugby.”
The NZ Herald reported that the New Zealand government will contribute NZ $400,000 a year to assist with equipment to the region, for the coverage.
The coverage to the Pacific will also include news broadcasts, and several other entertainment shows from New Zealand.