Journey to Japan 2019: Irish rights holder Eir Sport reveals coverage plans for Rugby World Cup

As the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan edges closer, SVG Europe gets the inside track on coverage and production plans from Irish rights holder Eir Sport. 

“It has been on our radar since we secured the rights in 2016 for the World Cup in Japan,” reports Barry Fitzgerald, director of operations, channels, and production at Eir Sport in Ireland. “However, it’s in the past 12 months where we have really focused on our plans for the tournament.”

All 48 games will be live on Eir Sport along with support programming throughout the tournament. “We will be the home of the Rugby World Cup in Ireland, and viewers won’t miss a single second of the action.”ƒ

Fans can look forward to following the Irish team’s progression every step of the way with expert analysis and, what Fitzgerald calls, “a bit of fun along the way”.

Planning for such a big event – especially one that is taking place on the other side of the world and in a different time zone – has been considerable.

“There are a number of challenges involved with broadcasting a tournament of this magnitude. It’s very exciting that a new rugby nation such as Japan has been given the honour of hosting the World Cup, and they will do a fantastic job and provide a spectacular tournament for the fans.”

“It needs a lot of planning and coordination. But it’s fun and the team are relishing the challenge. We look forward to sharing what is set to be a momentous sporting occasion with the Irish public.”

He continues, “We will have a team operating in Japan, while our main studio presentation will be based in Dublin. So that needs a lot of planning and coordination. But it is fun, and the team are relishing the challenges ahead. We look forward to sharing what is set to be a momentous sporting occasion with the Irish public.”

Tommy Bowe (pictured, right) will be the broadcaster’s main presenter and he will be joined by a strong team in studio, including legends Peter Stringer, Gordon D’Arcy, and Jerry Flannery. Also part of the presenting team will be Ireland internationals Eimear Considine and Louise Galvin.

“Tommy is, of course, our Guinness PRO14 presenter, and he has done a great job for us since retiring from rugby,” states Fitzgerald. “He is very popular with Irish sports fans after all of his achievements playing for Ulster and Ireland.”

He continues, “Connor Morris and Liam Toland will be our main commentary team in Japan and we will have one or two more surprise guests who will be part of our coverage.”

Fitzgerald says that Eir Sport will make full use of all the facilities on offer at the IBC (International Broadcasting Centre) in Japan, including access to all the feeds that are offered by the host broadcaster.

“We will have three producers working solely on the Rugby World Cup and a dedicated production team supporting each match day programming. Alongside those producers will be three directors and specialist vision mixers.”

While the graphics style is determined by World Rugby, Eir Sport has designed some unique elements that are in line with the style guide. The broadcaster will use on-screen data provided by both World Rugby and its own team. All editing will take place in Ireland using Final Cut Pro.

“With our studio presentation based at our studio building in Ireland, we’re not planning on using OB units in Japan. Of course, that could all change if Ireland make it to the final!”

Fitzgerald (pictured, below) goes on, “With our studio presentation based in Ireland at our studio building for the tournament, we are not planning on using OB units in Japan. Of course, that could all change if Ireland makes it to the final!”

The broadcaster will use unilaterals at all of the Ireland matches and games featuring the heavyweights of the rugby world. In addition, a small compact team in Japan will cover events on the ground.

“While we might be small in numbers, we have some incredibly talented members on our team and they will capture the colour, sights and sounds that only a World Cup can generate.”

Although no remote production is planned, Fitzgerald says that it is an exciting innovation and he looks forward to implementing the technology in future tournaments and events.

He concludes, “We are incredibly excited to have the honour of broadcasting all 48 games of the Rugby World Cup in Ireland. Irish Rugby has enjoyed unprecedented success in recent times, both at club and international level. Maybe this is the year when Ireland wins the biggest prize of all!”

The 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place in Japan from 20 September to 2 November.

  • All of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup games will be shown free to air in Ireland following a sub-agreement struck by the state broadcaster RTE and Eir Sport. The deal will see RTE broadcast a total of 14 live matches including all of Ireland’s games, all knockout stages and the final. 16 highlights programmes will also be shown.

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