Fox Sports to showcase 2017 Australian Club Rugby Championship

by Montanna Clare

Fox Sports has snapped up the opportunity to broadcast the Australian Club Rugby Championship on the same weekend as the opening round of the 2017 Super Rugby season, showing the broadcast potential in the grassroots game.

Fox Sports will televise a double-header of rugby on Saturday 25 February 2017 as Queensland and NSW club rugby premiers go up against each other for the Australian Club Rugby title.

The landmark broadcast will see 2016 BLK Queensland Premier Rugby winners Brothers Rugby take on the 2016 Intrust Shute Shield champions Northern Suburbs, with the runners-up and two historical club rugby rivals University of Queensland and Sydney University to play a curtain raiser.

The inaugural event was held in 1908, but has featured sporadically before becoming a more consistent fixture on Australian Rugby calendar, played consecutively since 2007, except for 2012.

The double-header of rugby will be broadcast live from Brisbane’s Crosby Park, and will precede the first all Australian Super Rugby match of 2017 season, between the NSW Waratahs and Western Force.

2016 Intrust Shute Shield winners Northern Suburbs broke a 41-year drought. Photo: Karen Watson.NSW has taken out the trophy for the last four years, with Sydney’s Randwick Rugby Club having won the most cross border championships in the competition’s 108-year history, closely followed by Brisbane’s Brothers Rugby and Sydney University.

Brothers Rugby President, Hans Pearson said that the club is thrilled to be able to host all the live action in what will be a high-quality feast for club rugby fans.

“We’re delighted that club rugby will have a live television platform to showcase this fixture between the winners of the Premier club rugby competitions on both sides of the Tweed,” he said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for fans of club rugby to enjoy a high-quality product at Jack Ross Oval in Brisbane.”

Club rugby fans have enjoyed Sydney’s Shute Shield coverage on free-to-air TV, with the Seven Network broadcasting the match of the day on 7TWO since 2015, while Queensland Premier Grade is available to stream live on Facebook and YouTube.

However, the live coverage on Fox Sports will allow a wider audience to enjoy the raw and uninhibited nature of Australian grassroots rugby.

“Working with the Queensland Rugby Union and Australian Rugby Union has enabled us to gain genuine traction for the event to promote the tribalism and high quality of the club game," Pearson said.

CEO of the Queensland Rugby Union Richard Barker was another who was thrilled with the broadcast deal, congratulating Brothers Rugby and Fox Sports for bringing the landmark spectacle to fruition.

“The QRU is keen for as many people as possible to experience and enjoy all club rugby has to offer and we were keen to bring the broadcaster and Brothers together, so rugby fans across the country can watch these club rugby games in February as part of Fox Sports’ excellent coverage of our code,” he said.