After some of the whining coming from Wendyball fans since the last Football World Cup, I’m sure we weren’t the only people a little worried about what ITV were going to throw at us for the Rugby World cup come September. Despite the fact ITV have a Rugby World Cup history almost as long as the tournament, we couldn’t help worrying we were going to be saddled with a certain Mr Chiles, or worse… Henson.
We needn’t have worried. This Thursday, ITV revealed the team who are going to be bringing us all the action from New Zealand and as well of a team full of Rugby World Cup Experience, what came across was that they are all as excited as we are, which bodes well for the enthusiasm and heart they will bring to the coverage. Not only that, as well as all the live games being broadcast on ITV1, ITV4 and ITV1 HD, there will be the series ‘Dallaglio’s World Cups in which Lol takes some time out from making all the lovely pasta sauce to look at World Cups past, a dedicated website over at itv.com and even an iPhone App so that if you want to you can completely immerse yourself in the Rugby World cup and not miss a single second.
While ITV Rugby Regular and part-time Hagrid Martin Bayfield reports from the touchlines down under, Steve Ryder and self- confessed ‘Rugby Anorak’ Craig Doyle will be in the studio in London with a merry bunch of former internationals with rugby still as close to their hearts as it was in their playing days. The Southern Hemisphere is represented by former All-Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick, unlikely winner of the award for ‘most likely to be played by Matt Damon’, Francois Pienaar and Wallabies skipper Michael Lynagh. Closer to home, Lawrence Dallaglio, Andy Gomersall and Phil Vickery will be representing England, the lovely Scott Hastings and former Dieux De Stade Star Thom Evans will be holding up the flower of Scotland, while Gareth Thomas will be bringing his dually-coded perspective for Wales and Alan Quinlan will be providing Ireland’s call.
We caught up with some of the team involved and it was obvious that as well as that enthusiasm, there’s a camaraderie forming from the off, which bodes well for some great discussions and insight once the tournament gets into full swing. Craig Doyle himself put his finger on it “I really like this group, the difference is [compared to ITV’s coverage of past tournaments] we’re doing rugby every week now and we see these boys all the time, we see the likes of Lawrence and Scott and it’s very relaxed.”
What’s also extremely clear, is that they are as excited as we are. Scott Hastings was most animated of all “We’re going into a culture that loves, eats, sleeps rugby, it’s going to be an amazing tournament and we’ll be blown away by the intensity, the fun, the passion. They’ve been taking the Rugby World Cup around all places like Napier and New Plymouth and the interest and passions from the supporters and fans, getting dressed up just for the cup to come into town!
I’ve played in a few rugby world cups and this is my fourth with ITV so I’m really looking forward to it.”
His Fellow Scot on the team, Thom Evans, was the most humble about his newfound career in punditry “Because I‘m not going to be out there involved in it I’m just happy to still be a part of it. I haven’t really done much presenting yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how I feel once I get into the swing of it!”
If Rugby World Cup fever hasn’t quite hit you yet, five minutes listening to this lot will get you there, I’m sure of it!
You can check out the Schedule, as well as clips from past tournaments already at http://www.itv.com/rugbyworldcup/.
Stay tuned over the next six weeks as we start bringing you the Rugby World Cup 2011 the Manpilez way.
Words by Lauren, pictures courtesy of ITV