Premier Sports – A Welcome addition to the rugby league family

Seven weeks into the new Betfred Championship season and host broadcaster Premier Sports continues to go from strength to strength.

The Irish subscription channel made the bold move of grabbing exclusive rights to show Rugby League’s second tier, and they can be proud of the start they’ve made to the new campaign.

With Sky Sports now in their 26th year of broadcasting Super League games, the Championship was in danger of drifting out of public consciousness, but Premier Sports has now made Monday nights compulsive viewing for the Rugby League fraternity.

Hosted by Emma Louise Jones, the network must be congratulated for not trying to copy Sky’s style of presentation, preferring to adopt their own more informal approach.

Expert analysis from the halfback pairing of former Wigan, Huddersfield, Warrington and Salford star Kevin Brown and four-time Grand Final winner Leon Pryce has only added to the quality of the network’s output, as has match commentary from the always enthusiastic Mark Wilson.

Throw in the odd guest appearance from former hooker now Keighly Cougars Director of Rugby Andrew Henderson, and Premier Sports has secured the talent to match that of their counterparts over at Sky.

A segment of the broadcast that has become cult viewing is pitch side reporter Ross Fiddes’s halftime food review. His naming (and sometimes shaming) of the grub on offer at the host venue, has also added a more family friendly feel to the coverage.

Premier Sports have also been rewarded with some spectacular Championship action in the opening weeks, whilst showcasing some of the best young talent in the northern hemisphere outside of Super League.

Featherstone Rovers, now under the tutelage of former Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott, spent big to try to right the wrongs of narrowly missing out on promotion last season, and they currently top the standings.

Close behind however, come the Leigh Centurions coached by former Wigan Warriors boss Adrian Lam, who are trying to get back into the top-flight at the first time of asking after a disappointing 2021 Super League campaign.

Then there’s York City Knights who have been under the stewardship of their former player James Ford since 2015 who look to have fallen under the radar slightly along with Barrow Raiders, who pushed the Huddersfield Giants all the way in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup last month.

Add a resurgent Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings to the mix and there’s no doubt that Championship Rugby League has made for compelling viewing in the first two months of the season.

Premier Sport is also sharing coverage of the Betfred Challenge Cup alongside the BBC, which has only added strength to their armoury. They were rewarded by broadcasting what was undoubtedly the game of the last round, as Wakefield Trinity heaped more woe on Daryl Powell’s stuttering Warrington Wolves by winning 16-12 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

As the season moves forward, one hopes that the Premier Sports output will continue to offer concise, enthusiastic and in-depth coverage of a sport that tends to be largely overlooked by the mainstream media.

One final thing – would it also be too much to expect Fiddes to publish a “Good Food Guide” at the end of the current campaign?

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