AUSTRALIAN commentator Jason Costigan will return to international rugby league for the first time in more than a decade when he calls the one-off clash between the Irish Residents Clubs XIII and England Community Lions Under-23’s on September 25.
After calling last month’s Rugby League Ireland First Division Grand Final as part of a major live-streaming operation, Costigan has been called up by RLI again to broadcast his first international since calling the 2010 Four Nations Final in Brisbane for New Zealand’s Sky TV.
On that occasion, the Kiwis upset Australia 16-12 at the same venue where Costigan, two years earlier, had called New Zealand’s famous World Cup Final win against the Kangaroos.
Costigan said although the crowd in Dublin will be much smaller than the 50,559 people who had packed Suncorp Stadium for that 2008 RLWC decider, he’s looking forward to the game between the best Irish-based players, regardless of nationality and background, and England’s potential future stars.
“It’s no secret that I call the game with plenty of passion, no matter if there’s 50,000 in the house or three men and a dog,” quipped Costigan, who has called more than 30 internationals on TV previously, starting in 1992 when he called the Great Britain Lions against the Queensland Residents as a rookie.
“In the perfect world, after making a successful return to calling the NRL, I’d be side-line in Dublin to call this representative game, especially with so much emerging talent on show. However, it’s a different world with COVID-19 as we all know, at least for now, so I’ll do the next best thing and that is broadcast the match remotely from Down Under, with the magic of technology.
“Up until last month, I’d only ever called one game off a TV monitor in 33 years and that was in the 2000s when France hosted the Kiwis. Otherwise, whether it’s been an NRL Grand Final, premiership games around Australia or New Zealand, the World Cup or some other international, English Super League or even bush footy, I’ve called directly from the actual match venue”.
“There’s no substitute for being there, soaking up the atmosphere and relaying that into people’s living rooms….wherever they are. That said, I’ll work my own magic in partnership with the Fulltime Productions team and if people want to tune in, all they need to do is go to the RLI Facebook page on September 25.”
RLI chairman Jim Reynolds said Costigan’s presence, albeit from 11,000 miles away as part of another live-streaming offering from RLI’s Facebook page, would help increase viewership – both domestically and internationally.
“Our grand final attracted a record audience by a long shot. In fact, it was almost six times bigger than usual and given the very positive feedback, I’m confident those audiences will only get bigger, starting with this international fixture between the Irish Residents Clubs and England Community Lions Under-23s,” he said.
“These are very exciting times for Irish rugby league and taking our live-streaming operation to the next level shows how serious we are about growing the game in our part of the world, with the help of people like Costo, whose experience as an international broadcaster is central to that.”
“We are being taken a bit more seriously now with England also bringing their Lions Under-20s over to Ireland to play our Irish Under-20s for the first ever test match between us at this level – that will be the early game at Morton Stadium on September 25, ensuring a wonderful afternoon of international rugby league in the Irish capital.”
The double-header kicks off at 1:00 local time with the U20’s and 4:00 for the Irish Clubs game and will mark rugby league’s return to the venue where the Irish national team, the Wolfhounds, emerged 25-4 winners over Italy almost two years ago as part of Ireland’s qualification for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will now be staged in England in October and November 2022.