Just 10 days after announcing it had awarded its multi-million pound production contract to experienced independent TV sports producer Sunset+Vine, Premier Sports has unveiled a trio of trusted rugby experts for their coverage in Northern Ireland – with more high profile names to be announced for TV teams in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales over the next fortnight.
Popular former Irish international and Ulster’s most capped provincial player, Andrew Trimble will be joined by the familiar and well-respected ‘face and voice’ of rugby commentary in the UK and Europe, Mark Robson. Added to the mix is the highly regarded and experienced home-grown talent – sports TV presenter Graham Little.
Graham Little has been a television reporter and presenter for 16 years, first at UTV and then as a freelance in a range of roles on BBC, RTE, ITV, Channel 4, Setanta Sports and Sky Sports working in both arts, features and adventure travel including features presenter for The One Show. He is best known as a sports presenter and has hosted rugby, football, cycling and motorcycle racing programmes as well as presenting Sky Sports News. Graham is a published travel and adventure author, lives in Northern Ireland and will continue his work on Northern Ireland football internationals for Sky.
Mark Robson has been an anchor rugby commentator with Sky Sports and Eurosport for the past 15 years and over the past four seasons has worked on Guinness PRO14, European Champions Cup, Ireland’s November internationals and summer tours as well as working on French Top 14. Recent highlights included Ireland’s famous series win against the Wallabies in Australia while his CV also includes four Rugby World Cups and five Heineken Cup/Champions Cup Finals.
Retiring from the game in May 2018 after a distinguished rugby career, Northern Ireland’s most capped provincial player, Andrew Trimble, (33), has been at the heart of Ulster Rugby since he first appeared on the scene aged just 19. With an impressive 229 provincial appearances and 70 international caps for Ireland, his rugby career has spanned 13 years and been dedicated to his roots in Ulster.
New to the broadcast stage and bringing a cutting-edge inside view of how players and management work and react, former international Andrew Trimble said: “I feel privileged to have
had such amazing opportunities and experiences as a rugby player. Now moving onto the next stage of my career, it’s great that I can stay closely connected with rugby in Ulster and the Guinness PRO14 although from a different stage and perspective off the pitch.”
“Premier Sports has some really exciting ideas and I’m look forward to getting involved and working alongside an impressive team of presenters and commentators that are being brought together in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and who are really passionate about the game. I’m excited to be involved and to dip my toe into the water in the world of broadcast – a slightly different challenge, but it’s still the game I love.”
Graham Little said: “I’m delighted to be involved in rugby again, it’s been one of my favourite sports since I was in primary school and I’ve missed presenting and reporting on the game. It’s a very exciting time for Irish rugby in general and I know from being close to a number of people at Ulster that there is a huge determination to build on the challenges of last season. Evening matches at the Kingspan are a special part of the Northern Ireland sporting experience and it’ll be great to present this to the Premier Sports audience around the UK.”
Mark Robson added: “I’m extremely excited to be at the sharp end of a new beginning for the Guinness PRO14 with Premier Sports and the chance to be able to focus on my home province made the opportunity irresistible. My Dad first took me to watch Ulster when I was about ten. In those days Ulster played roughly five games a season and the crowd was in hundreds not thousands – they’ve been my team ever since. The fact that Premier are showing EVERY game live is an incredible development for the PRO14 and puts the league very firmly on the front foot. I just can’t wait to get started!”
The trio will be working with Sunset+Vine, one of rugby’s most experienced and creative independent production companies with a track record that includes seven years of Aviva Premiership coverage with both ESPN and for the past four years, BT Sport. Sunset+Vine’s three year deal will see them produce more than 200 hours of live rugby coverage for Premier Sports each season including the annual showpiece final at Celtic Park in May 2019.
Premier Sports is available in 16 million UK homes across Sky and Virgin platforms and to everyone via the Premier Player https://www.premierplayer.tv/while FreeSports will be available to 22 million UK homes this season across seven different platforms.
Richard Sweeney, Chief Executive of Premier Sports said: “We are broadcasting a Championship full of world-class players, so we need a presenting team that reflects the ambition and class of the Guinness PRO14, people at the top of their game talking up one of the most exciting club rugby competitions in the world.
“Premier Sports will be broadcasting every game live which will mean more people have access to the whole picture of rugby across the Guinness PRO14 Championship – that’s more than ever before all under one roof with a mix of match action and news across Premier Sports 1& 2 and FreeSports.”
Cerith Williams, Executive Producer Wales, for Sunset+Vine said: “It’s going to be a thrilling new season of rugby as the Guinness PRO14 goes from strength-to-strength and our rugby coverage will reflect that ambition. We want to provide a modern, sophisticated take on rugby with programmes that contain high quality match coverage, insightful, original and eloquent analysis and sound editorial judgement.
“It’s vital that we engage with the many thousands of loyal and knowledgeable rugby supporters who support the Guinness PRO14 with a talent team that will bring our shows to life.
“Our goal is to provide programmes that are informed, intelligent, honest, humorous and visually stylish. As well as the highest technical standards, viewers expect good editorial judgement in a fast-paced environment.”
Premier Sports was founded in 2009 and operates three sports TV channels in the UK. Premier Sports 1 is on Sky channel 412 and Virgin channel 551. Premier Sports 2 is on Sky channel 435 and Virgin Channel 552. FreeSports is available free on Sky Channel 422, Virgin Media Channel 553, on Channel 95 on Freeview and BT and on Freesat Channel 252.
Both Premier Sport channels are available on a subscription basis for just £9.99 per month on Sky and on the Premier Sport player. The channels are also available to pubs, clubs and other commercial premises throughout the UK.
Premier Sports and FreeSports also hold ice hockey rights for the NHL, CHL, SHL, KHL weekly highlights and the IIHF World Championships. It is also the home of NASCAR Monster Energy Cup & GAA along with football from Europe.
ABOUT ANDREW TRIMBLE
The popular and respected rugby union star who played on the wing and outside centre, announced his retirement from the game in May 2018 aged 33. He was highly-regarded by Ulster Rugby not only for his huge commitment on the field but in equal measure as one of their most dedicated ambassadors off the pitch – often involved in community work to help inspire the next generation of rugby players. He joined Ulster Rugby on a development contract at the start of the 2004-05 season aged 19 and came to prominence in the 2005/06 season both on the provincial and international stage for his strong-running, pace and innate ability to beat the first defender.
He made his Ulster debut against Cardiff at the Arms Park in the first Celtic League match of the 2005-06 season. And with just 8 Ulster caps under his belt, he made his International debut in November 2005 against Australia replacing the injured Brian O’Driscoll – then scoring two tries against Romania the following week. International career highlights saw him play a key role in Ireland’s Six Nations Championship win in 2014 as well as their historic first ever win over New Zealand in Chicago in November 2016, making his final appearance for his country three months later. Trimble scored 17 tries for Ireland and his international career included appearances at the World Cups in 2007 and 2011.