ColumnistsDaragh Keany

Rugby fans turned those frowns upside down by TV3's coverage

Rugby fans turned those frowns upside down by TV3's coverage

April 15, 2014 doesn’t mean much to anyone, but it is the day the rugby-loving population of Ireland went ballistic.

It is the date that TV3 announced they had beaten RTÉ to show exclusive rights of the Rugby World Cup and the happy-with-things-as-they-are-even-though-they-hate-George-Hook-and-Tom-McGurk-and-Ryle-Nugent-brigade were apoplectic. 

Fast forward 522 days and the Ballymount station kicked off their coverage and all of a sudden rugby fans started to turn those frowns upside down. 

Matt Cooper is a great interviewer and a rugby anorak.

Then there are rugby legends like Keith Wood, Shane Byrne and Peter Stringer who have all dabbled in TV work and are all compelling to watch.

Shane Jennings has been a revelation on TV, giving no-nonsense answers to questions that would normally be waltzed around by a panel.

Liam Toland in commentary and Sinéad Kissane pitch side have also both been faultless. 

The package isn’t without its slight flaws.

The ad breaks are annoying but, considering they don’t get TV licence money, they are crucial to the station being able to host the tournament so well.

Matt Williams is a curmudgeon of a man who needs to relax a little and Hugo MacNeil (nope I’d never heard of him either) is easily the weakest link. 

But those slight hiccups aside, the station has nailed it.

They had 1.38m viewers for the Italy game and then 1.42m for the France game.

Imagine how well they will do if Ireland reach next week’s semis, or dare I say it, the final. 

They must have blown their entire sports budget on buying the World Cup rights.

I just hope the returns result in a stronger future for the underdog of the Irish TV world.