International touch football will be screened as a curtain raiser to Channel’s Nine’s Sunday NRL telecasts over coming weeks with the Men’s, Women’s and Mixed (Open’s) finals of the Touch World Cup to be shown on the free to air channel.
Current Rugby League World Golden Boot holder Shaun Johnson was an outstanding touch football player in his younger days, and the World Cup will see many more young players who could be set to follow in his footsteps.
The Touch World Cup, to be held from 29 April – 3 May, will feature close to 100 teams from 25 nations across nine divisions in total, with the finals to be showcased on 3 May at the C.Ex International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.
Channel Nine will feature an hour-long highlights package of each division’s finals matches leading into the regular Sunday NRL 4.00pm (AEST) timeslot in NSW from May 31 to June 14.
This will be the first time international touch football will feature on a main free to air channel in Australia. The Touch World Cup finals will also be broadcast into over 50 countries across Asia Pacific and Europe via Fox International, Star TV and Eurosport.
Australia has enjoyed strong success over the 27 years that the quadrennial Touch World Cup has been held and are looking to record their eighth successive Touch World Cup title, with New Zealand shaping as their main rivals in most divisions.
Host nation and Touch Football Australia CEO Colm Maguire said the news of Channel Nine’s broadcast and the overall opportunity was very exciting and timely.
“This is such a fantastic outcome for the sport of Touch Football and it is a real breakthrough to have our pinnacle international event showcased in this way,” he said.
“This highlights the benefit of our alignment with the NRL but the success of our overall broadcast commitment over our current strategic cycle which includes numerous televised events.
“This also positions the sport even more strongly, not only through our partnership with the NRL but as an immensely popular participation sport played at the elite level, beamed out to a much wider domestic and international television audience.
“We look forward to seeing our athletes on such a stage and wish them well for the event.
“One of the advantages of the free-to-air broadcast is the fact that close to 50% of the television coverage will feature our female participants.
“And that is pivotal to our participation and performance environment and strategic focus with the NRL.”
NRL CEO Dave Smith welcomed Channel Nine’s support in showcasing international touch football.
“It is fantastic that fans will be able to enjoy the international game as part of Channel Nine’s Sunday football broadcast,” he said.
“Through our strategic alliance with Touch we are committed to growing the profile of the game and the Sunday afternoon time slot on Channel Nine presents the ideal opportunity to do so.
“The NRL Touch Football partnership provides both sports with opportunities to work together and grow our participation numbers as we look to create Australia’s largest sporting community.
“I look forward to a fantastic few days of competition in Coffs Harbour and wish the Australian team the best of luck in their quest for eight World Cup titles.”
Channel 9 Touch Football World Cup broadcast times:
Sunday May 31 – 2:30pm followed by Dragons v Sharks
Sunday June 7 – 2:30pm followed by Sharks v Roosters
Sunday June 14 – 2:30pm followed by Titans v Bulldogs