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Grassroots Rugby TV Swaps Sides

Māori Television secures rights to long-running show in SKY TV co-lab

Iconic TV series Grassroots Rugby will reach even more rugby fans this year after signing a new deal with Māori Television.

The agreement will see Haati Grassroots Rugby have its first screening free to air, with te reo content, through multi-platform broadcaster Māori Television, and then screened again on SKY TV and Prime TV.

Graham Veitch, who has owned and produced the show since its inception 16 years ago, has sold production rights, in a unique collaboration deal struck by 2B Media boss Martin Cleave between Māori Television and SKY TV.

It is the longest-running, continuous sports programme on TV, and features 21 weeks of club rugby from across the country.

“I am just rapt Martin Cleave is taking it over; he will ensure that it will carry on for many more years to come. It is like handing over my baby, but it is well and truly time.”

Cleave, an avid rugby fan and former league player, has wanted to produce the show for many years, and saw the potential for a partnership with Māori Television after Toyota withdrew as naming-rights sponsor as part of a global review. Toyota continues to support the series as vehicle sponsor.

“There was a real risk the show would not be produced, so this is a reprieve of sorts,” Cleave says. “Māori Television and Te Mangai Paho got behind the series, and we are excited to put 2B’s own spin on such a well-loved show.”

Maori Television invested in the series as it is another way to connect to tangata whenua and celebrate up-and-coming talent from across Aotearoa, the broadcaster says.

“At the heart of every community is a marae and a rugby club,” Māori Television CEO Keith Ikin says. “These are the hubs of our regions and are part of the lifeblood that fuels Aotearoa We are looking forward to sharing those unique New Zealand stories.”

SKY Director of Sport, Richard Last added: “SKY Sport is excited to partner Māori TV to renew its agreement with New Zealand grassroots rugby for 2018. This deal marks the 20th year that SKY has covered grassroots rugby, and is testament to the fact that we are invested at all levels, from school rugby, right through to the All Blacks. Your top side is only as strong as your grassroots level, and it is fantastic to continue to support the next generation as they push through to higher honours.”

New Zealand Rugby Chief Strategy Officer Nigel Hass says he is pleased grassroots rugby would now reach a wider television audience.

“There’s so much entertaining, skilled and exciting rugby played in every corner of New Zealand every weekend, and it’s fantastic to have a television show dedicated to showcasing our community game.”

Haati Grassroots Rugby will feature premier and senior club matches and stories from 600 rugby clubs across New Zealand. The season will screen on Maori Television on Wednesday, April 4, at 10pm, and will then SKY TV on Thursday at 6.30pm on SKY Sport 1, then Prime TV on Sunday at 1pm.


About Grassroots Rugby TV series
Graham and Marie Veitch created Grassroots Rugby and its sister series Heartland Rugby more than 19 years ago. Veitch has worked in rugby broadcasting for more than 50 years and steps back from the day-to-day management, with 2B Media managing both shows.

About 2B Media
2B Media is an privately owned independent TV production company that has made a wealth of programmes for New Zealand’s main TV networks. Shows include Grand Slam Fishing, Code:1, Beauty and the Beach and Marae Kai Masters. Owner and director Martin Cleave has worked in television for several decades. The passionate rugby fan will be Haati Grassroots Rugby’s executive producer.

© Scoop Media

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