“This is the biggest sporting event of the year and we are delighted to be able to convene here in Dubai to bring the Rugby World Cup to subscribers of OSN.” That was the view of Britain’s leading sports presenter Jim Rosenthal as he joined a host of rugby legends at OSN’s brand new studios in Dubai Media City ahead of the World Cup kick-off on Friday.
Andy Warkman, Vice President Sport & Production, OSN, commented: “In 2011 OSN won the best sport production at the Broadcast Pro Awards for our coverage of the World Cup. For Rugby World Cup 2015 we will be raising the bar once more – this will be the biggest production we have ever undertaken. Planning started over a year ago and in that time we have moved to our new state-of-the-art studios. We will also be introducing new never seen before in the region augmented reality graphics.”
Led by Rosenthal, the expert panel of pundits includes British and Irish Lions centre pairing from the victorious 1997 tour of South Africa, England’s Jeremy Guscott and Wales’ Scott Gibbs; South African Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White; New Zealand’s great open side flanker Josh Kronfeld; 1999 Rugby World Cup winner Australian Joe Roff and 1995 Rugby World Cup winner South African Joel Stransky.
Former centre Gibbs admitted there was much to get excited about at this year’s tournament. He said: “There will be moments of individual brilliance where we’ll look back and say ‘wow’, and that’s what this World Cup is all about.”
OSN’s coverage kicks-off at 21.30 (UAE time) with all the excitement of the opening ceremony, followed by the first match between England and Fiji live from Twickenham Stadium, London at 23.00 (UAE time).
White, who backed current world champions New Zealand to make history by becoming the first ever side to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy in successive tournaments, said the opening match will set the tone for the rest of what promises to be a thrilling competition.
“There’s a huge amount for England to achieve in these first 80 minutes,” he said. “They can set a benchmark, not just for England, but for the whole of the World Cup.”
Gibbs and Guscott showed a small glimpse of the rivalry that will play out during the tournament, when England and Wales lock horns in the eagerly anticipated Pool A fixture, on September 26, with exclusive coverage on OSN.
However, Guscott sounded a word of caution as he looked forward to a mouthwatering event. He said: “This will be one of the toughest competitions for a while because the minor teams have had so much time together. They’ve had a lot of time to prepare and we’ll see if that turns out to be a good thing.”
As soon as the quarter-final matches have finished, OSN’s experts will fly to London to cover the semi-finals and final from pitch side at Twickenham Stadium taking OSN subscribers to the very heart of the action.
And Kronfeld confessed that, by that stage, anything could happen. He said: “In the World Cup, when you get into the knockout rounds, it’s about performing on the day; any team can slip up and any team can win on the day.”
OSN Sports 1 HD is now OSN Sports Rugby World Cup HD for the duration of the tournament – the channel will be free and dedicated to the biggest event in the rugby union calendar. It is also available live anytime and anywhere on OSN Play.
Supporters can also enjoy the ‘OSN Rugby Lounge’ in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, where entry is free of charge and all the matches can be viewed on five massive television screens.