DJ Eberle is a student/athlete at Western New England University. He is an offensive tackle, built like his dad; a rugby Prop. Track him on Twitter @Ebstide52
NEW YORK, NY – In the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the relationships between rugby and the major American sports, specifically football (the gridiron version). And this recent announcement that NFL Network was able to structure a deal with Grand Prix Sports to broadcast the July 2013 Grand Prix’s international rugby championships, is yet another sign that organizations like the NFL see the need to interact with rugby in the United States. Just last week, the New York Jets signed US Eagle Hayden Smith, born in Australia and has never played a down of competitive football in his life. Now NFL Network has got themselves into the rugby sevens game.
Grand Prix Entertainment, a sports and entertainment company, was recently awarded the rights to own, operate and globally broadcast USA Rugby Sevens. From there the company wanted to find the best network to broadcast the sport.
Mark Quenzel, Senior Vice President of Programming and Production for NFL Network is thrilled for the new opportunity, “NFL Network is excited to work with Grand Prix Rugby to bring our fans professional rugby sevens championships featuring the top teams and players in the world.”
Personally, I’m not sure this was the best choice for Grand Prix Sports to choose to broadcast rugby. The main issue I have is that NFL Network is in only 56.3 million households as of May 2010; it’s a very select network in the United States and for it to be the primary network to broadcast US Rugby Sevens could cause a problem in the future. The goal for Grand Prix is to broaden the fan base of the sport in America and for it to rely heavily on NFL Network to accomplish that goal is very risky.
A better network for Grand Prix to have chosen would have been NBC and NBC Sports Network. NBC is a high profile network in America and seen in every household. Another reason NBC would be a significant improvement is the fact that the Olympics are broadcast on NBC. And since Rugby Sevens will be joining the Olympic lineup in the summer of 2016 it could be a great jump start to the sport. As far as NBC Sports Network goes, it also broadcasts the Olympics as well and already features rugby on its network.
Granted, Grand Prix signing with the NFL Network is a good start, but “start” is the keyword. It will be successful – to a degree – but the real success will not start until the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, when sevens begins in the Olympics.
What do you think about the Grand Prix choosing NFL Network as its broadcasting network for sevens?