Fear not sports fans, TVNZ’s broadcast of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan will feature many voices you are familiar with, says one-time voice of rugby Keith Quinn.
TVNZ and Spark winning the rights to broadcast the 2019 Rugby World Cup have some nerves frayed in the wake of TVNZ’s much-criticised ad-heavy Commonwealth Games coverage,
The successful bid for New Zealand’s television rights for the 2019 tournament was confirmed in a joint release from TVNZ and Spark on Monday morning.
Quinn said he felt TVNZ was well placed to handle the commentary aspects of World Cup coverage.
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TVNZ would have no problems “as they will send their own people for significant New Zealand matches,” he said.
Quinn had no insights into who “those people” might be, nor would he comment on his own availability for the tournament.
On Sunday, Andrew Saville and veteran John McBeth did the commentaries for the men’s and women’s sevens finals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Both would likely be firmly in the mix for Japan. Saville is an experienced match caller, while McBeth was New Zealand’s leading radio rugby commentator for 10 years, before taking the leading rugby role at TVNZ.
Scheduling means TVNZ could not cover every game, so it was likely the World Commentary Team (WTC) feed would be taken for non-New Zealand games, Quinn said.
Sky TV used the WTC in the past to bolster core commentators Grant Nisbett, Tony Johnson and Justin Marshall at the 2015 Cup.
Those three and others – such as the high-profile Scotty Stevenson – contracted to Sky would seem to be not an option for TVNZ.
Nor would TVNZ want to use them, as they would be intent on stamping their own brand on the Cup coverage.
Contracts dependent, it is possible sevens specialist Karl Te Nana, experienced Radio Sport caller Nigel Yalden and Willie Lose, who has played rugby in Japan, might be available to TVNZ.
Former Chiefs and All Blacks No 8 Steven Bates is another media-experienced former player who has played rugby in Japan, so has a valuable understanding of the local culture, and local rugby culture.
WTC commentators are contracted by World Rugby to ensure all games have quality commentators.
They operate under guidelines which mean they must make games sound exciting, without exhibiting a national bias.
Quinn, Johnson and Te Nana have all called games for the WTC.
Quinn also commentated to a worldwide audience at the Rio Olympics two years ago, when he called the sevens for the Olympic Broadcasting Service – essentially the Olympic Games version of the WTC.
He expected New Zealanders to be happy with the WTC callers, which featured the likes of Australian Gordon Bray, Welshman Eddie Butler, and Englishmen Miles Harrison and Ben Gollings.
“There will be a lot of familiar voices for New Zealand viewers,” Quinn said.
“Some of the South African callers, and some of the British names like Miles Harrison and Eddie Butler, will be known.”
WTC will fly commentators to Japan, pay their accommodation, and give them a fee. In exchange WTC controls what they are able to say.
No WTC broadcaster would criticise aspects of the way the tournament was run, or its infrastructure.