Alex Corbisiero takes front row seat as NBC shows English Premiership rugby

时间:2019-08-29 责任编辑:全面飓 来源:2018正规博彩娱乐网 点击:68 次

The England and Lions prop Alex Corbisiero will this weekend start life as an American TV sports analyst, as NBC broadcasts the first live games of its first season of Aviva rugby.

“I’m tremendously excited,” he said, while making the short trip from Manhattan to the NBC studios in Stamford, Connecticut, for rehearsals. “It’s a great opportunity to work for a prestigious network and deliver the English Premiership to a brand new audience, to help grow the sport out here and get it popular.”

Sounding like the player he still is, even after a year away from the field, he added: “This is one of the most competitive domestic leagues in the world and I’m proud to be part of it. I just can’t wait to get these first couple of games done and get into the season.”

was first up for NBC on Friday, through its streaming service. First on NBC Sports itself on Saturday is Saracens v Worcester, to be enjoyed with coffee and a bacon bagel at 9.30am ET. Harlequins v Bristol follows via streaming and will have been shown by season’s end.

Professional rugby union is still relatively new to America, so Corbisiero and host may have some explaining to do. This week, the New Yorker, a magazine so notorious for accuracy that it corrected itself about at a private dinner 14 years ago, . The piece was a fascinating read about a radical underwater workout in Malibu, but it referred at first to the Wasps fly-half as something called a “fly back”. Two countries separated by a common language, and etc.

Cognisant of such transatlantic riptides, NBC will echo its approach to Premier League football and carry British match commentary. In the American English of the press release, “Alastair Eykyn, Lawrence Dallaglio and Ugo Monye will call the match featuring Saracens and Worcester, while Nick Mullins, Dallaglio and Austin Healey will have the call for Wasps v Exeter on Sunday.”

Corbisiero, who has watched the football coverage closely, in particular the analysis provided by Rebecca Lowe’s two Robbies, Earle and Mustoe, could be the ideal translator. First, he knows what it takes to win the Premiership in front of 82,000 fans at Twickenham: he did so . Second, though born a New Yorker and still deeply in love with “”, after many years of schooling and playing in Britain, he has an accent straight out of Cobham.

“Our major task is making sure we get the balance right,” he said. “We’re definitely going to have a core audience that are really passionate about rugby. We don’t want to alienate them too much by explaining everything or making it too basic.

“But at the same time we want to make sure we err on the side of caution, that new fans are able to come in, that we don’t confuse them with too much technical detail, especially in the first couple of weeks.”

Alex Corbisiero (@AlexCorbs)

Great to be onboard with covering the in the USA for this season! Exciting times ahead! 👊🏻🏉🎉

Promotionally, NBC is taking a cultural cue from its promotion of the Premier League with all the London trappings: pubs, taxis, . Early rugby promos, shown during an Olympic sevens tournament that USA Rugby credits with , featured crunching hits at Kingsholm and a spot of brutal ballet from Bath, narrated by what sounded like Jason Statham’s bigger brother.

A is grainy and gritty and scored to by Rudyard Kipling, a poem familiar on the playing fields of Eton but in this instance spoken by Hollywood Voiceover Guy.

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute,” HVG growls, an orchestra sturm und dranging in the background as tackles fly and tries are scored, “With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run / Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it / And – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son!”

Corbisiero, just turned 28, knows all about unforgiving minutes of rugby. He has 20 England caps and played a starring role on the victorious 2013 Lions tour to Australia, but earlier in 2016 he announced the start of , taken to recover from injuries to knee, back and shoulder.

In May, in , he told the Guardian’s Donald McRae he was “physically and mentally spent after 10 years of full-time rugby”. Asked in September if he planned to return to action, he said: “It’s up in the air. If I was coming back when I thought I was coming back, I would probably not have taken a role like this, because I’d be training by now to be playing by November or January.

“I feel very fit and healthy and in good shape, I feel very capable of coming back to the game, but at the same time I have an eye on what’s after the game, [and] at the same time there’s an opportunity to maybe play out in the States.”

That opportunity would be in , a five-team league currently operating out of Ohio and the west but aiming to expand to the east.

“It’s nothing more than an informal conversation,” he said, “so I wouldn’t want to say I might or I might not, but it’s definitely something I’m going to look into. I still have the competitive itch to play, but at the same time 30-plus games” – the length of an English season – “isn’t always the most appealing.”

PRO Rugby has found itself , between those who want American pro rugby to grow domestically and those who would import teams to play in overseas leagues. The Premiership has stolen a march on the , and Super Rugby by bagging TV coverage and staging in Harrison, New Jersey last March. Saracens won it, beating Corbisiero’s old team London Irish in an entertaining match.

Two as yet unconfirmed teams will return to the Red Bull Arena in 2017. In 2016, in the press box, some cynical hacks wondered if Irish and Sarries had been told to throw the ball about, to put on a show to sell the product. Corbisiero said Americans could come to love the Premiership’s many styles.

“Perhaps the one area we may hit some speed bumps will be the winter months,” he said, “where it becomes a bit more of a tactical game, a bit of chess, and sometimes you need a bit of an appreciation of the techniques and the tactics of the game. I’d hope to convey that to the audience.

“But at the beginning of the season, the weather will be nice, the pitches will be firm and I think there will be an emphasis on playing rugby.”

Picking out the Saracens, England and Lions fly-half as one man for US fans to watch closely, he added: “If you look at the way the England team has been playing, Eddie Jones has been trying to move them far away from that traditional set-piece-orientated kicking game. And I think that’s trickling down – guys are going back to their clubs and saying that’s how they want to play if they’re going to get into this successful England side.”

Corbisiero scores a try against Australia during the third Lions Test in Sydney in 2013. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

And so the show begins. Corbisiero did not cite figures to back his optimism about audiences – in fairness, he wasn’t asked to – but a recent identified what it called 4.2 million fans of rugby in the US and 16 million supporters. Not all of those are expats.

“Being a US citizen,” Corbisiero said, “I played for the USA under-19s; I have friends who have played in the pro league over here who have really enjoyed it. There’s an ever-growing participation at high-school level, collegiate and now post-collegiate, when you can’t play football really anymore. Rugby is a sport you can play socially for a long time … I’m sure we’re going to have an audience.”

Maybe the US will learn to love rugby. Maybe it already does. Maybe the New Yorker – which changed “fly back” to “fullback”, correct as a rugby position although Cipriani doesn’t actually play there – meant what it said in the first place. The is after all both a back and, with apologies for such a cringingly dadlike lapse into badly misused slang, pretty “fly”.

Maybe the common language of contact sports can be understood by football fans eager to vary their palate. Maybe Corbisiero will soon be preaching to the converted. NBC and Premiership Rugby certainly hope so.

  • Saracens v Worcester is on NBC Sports Network at 9.30am ET on Saturday; Harlequins v Bristol streams on and via the NBC Sports App at 11.30am ET. Wasps v Exeter kicks off at 10.30am ET on Sunday.