Rugby America

Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective

NFL Network Named as Broadcast Partner for Grand Prix Rugby

LOS ANGELES (April, 12 2012) –Grand Prix Entertainment a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment enterprise, announced today it has named NFL Network as its exclusive US broadcast partner for Grand Prix’s July 2013 professional rugby sevens championships in partnership with USA Rugby.
“On the heels of our recent announcements extending our exclusive partnership with USA Rugby through 2018 and then moving to secure AEG Facility’s Home Depot Center as our venue partner, the important task of selecting the right U.S. broadcast partner was a key strategic priority and we could not be more pleased with the relationship we have formed with NFL Network,” said Grand Prix Sports Chairman Alan Rothenberg.
“NFL Network is excited to work with Grand Prix Rugby to bring our fans professional rugby sevens championships featuring the top teams and players in the world,” said Mark Quenzel, Senior Vice President of Programming and Production for NFL Network.
USA Rugby, an official member of the Unites States Olympic Committee as well as the Rugby World Cup’s International Rugby Board, had previously awarded Grand Prix the exclusive rights to own, operate and globally broadcast the professional sport of Rugby Sevens, which was soon after named a new Olympic sport.
William Tatham, Chairman of Grand Prix Entertainment said of the announcement, “From day one NFL Network was our preferred network partner. We are excited NFL Network supports our vision for the sport of Rugby, which just so happens to be the “Father of American Football.”
Nigel Melville, CEO of USA Rugby, was equally enthusiastic, saying, “When I came to the U.S. five years ago I believed Rugby could become a major U.S. professional sport. Olympic inclusion and now a broadcast partner in NFL Network takes USA Rugby and our partners at Grand Prix all that much closer to the dream.” 

GPE executive board member Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports who negotiated the carriage agreement, said, “NFL Network’s live coverage of the Grand Prix Rugby Championship events will exceed any prior exposure of rugby on US television.” 
# # #
About Grand Prix Entertainment
Grand Prix Entertainment is a diversified multi-media production and distribution company that owns and manages multi sports and entertainment content. For more information about Grand Prix Entertainment, please call Caryn at Premier Partnerships at (310) 656–2500 x13, or visit
About NFL Network
NFL Network provides fans with a network to call their own. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, fans turn to NFL Network to receive information and insight straight from the field, team headquarters, league offices and everywhere the
NFL is making news.
NFL Network gives fans unprecedented year-round inside access to all NFL events, including the Super Bowl, Playoffs, regular season, preseason, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend, NFL Draft, Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, league meetings, minicamps and training camps.
In addition, NFL Network is the only place on television for fans to view NFL games outside their initial live airings. From original broadcast versions of past Super Bowls, in-week replays of current games, original network telecasts of classic NFL regular season and postseason games, to every preseason game, and the expanded 13-game regular season Thursday Night Football schedule—NFL Network is truly the year-round destination for football fans.
About USA Rugby
Founded in 1975, USA Rugby is an official member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization has approximately 98,000 members and is responsible for the development of the boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club rugby programs, and ultimately all of the national teams representing the U.S. in international competitions. USA Rugby’s national headquarters is located in Boulder, Colo., and is run by full-time staff under the direction of current CEO and President of Rugby Operations Nigel Melville. For more information, please visit


20 comments on “NFL Network Named as Broadcast Partner for Grand Prix Rugby

  1. John
    April 12, 2012

    This is massive. I just hope they’re able to put together a production that can get casual fans excited about the tournament.

  2. MattD
    April 12, 2012

    awesome news! And as always well done on being the first to report this story to the rugby community. Keep up the good work. Now… if the world can just make it past Dec 21st 2012….

  3. yankee_rob
    April 13, 2012

    Great news! Interesting the NFL choose to get involved in rugby union. Could they be looking at this as a way to scout talent for the NFL? Maybe some of their investors and sponsors might be interested in getting involved in rugby union.

    • yankee_rob
      April 13, 2012

      From the stand point of attracting international 7s and 15s players I would say a July to October season makes more sense. However the NFL might not want the 7s series to overlap their season.

  4. RugbyAmerica
    April 13, 2012

    I can say that I honestly didn’t see this coming. I knew GPR had a broadcast partner and that it was someone big, but I didn’t know who it was. I was expecting something like Spike or even ABC or CBS (trying to counter NBC’s ties with USA 7’s), but once I saw the release it made perfect sense. The NFL Network is a great move for both parties. We have all said for years that if football fans were exposed to rugby they’d fall in love. While very different games, they still have much in common and appeal to the same audiences. So, why not take rugby to the only network dedicated to football and football fans? GPR is going right to the source of everything they need to succeed and the NFL Network could be the key to tapping into the same pipeline that has made the NFL what it is today.

    From the NFL Network’s point of view, they get to broaden their horizon’s and get to air an Olympic sport at a time when NBC has a stranglehold on Olympic sports. Not to mention the fact that the NFL has been plugging away for years trying to expand to a more global audience. Rugby is another pathway to reach those audiences.

    I’ve heard that other networks were in the running for the GPR contract, but they chose the NFL Network for specific reasons. Think about it… the possibilities are endless. I’m about to throw out a “Mega Dream” scenario, but what if this goes well and the NFL decides to really buy into rugby? Could each NFL team support a 7’s team and have those teams play games at halftime of every NFL game? Then in the NFL offseason, the 7’s teams play a more robust competition?

    Cross-polination at it’s best.

    • yankee_rob
      April 13, 2012

      I love the idea! At a minmum some if the NFL owners, sponsors and fans get interested in rugby union the skies the limit. Just 5 percent of the NFL rugby union will really more up a notch.

      RugbyAmerica do you have any idea on the teans, format etc. Also will the season start or finish in July?

  5. MattD
    April 13, 2012

    I also think it make perfect sense for the reality tv show they’re trying to put together to promote the league.

    Here’s the only thing I don’t understand. I thought the IRB said this idea was ok IF they did it in the summer and fall, which wouldn’t interfere with their HSBC series. It says the championship is in July 2013… (unless Im reading that wrong) that would mean the season would need to kick off in Feb or March…?

  6. RugbyAmerica
    April 13, 2012

    The final details are still a mystery. I’m guessing they have to be coming soon seeing as they have now announced their primary venue and broadcast sponsor. Competition details really seem like the last piece of the puzzle, but you never know. Maybe the next announcement will be the names of the teams or something? I’ve tried to get it out of them, but they’re not talking yet.

    I have seen multiple drafts of their plans over the years and they have grown and evolved as 7’s has become more and more popular. It is really hard to say, at this point, what the competition will look like. The last version I saw was probably two years ago and so much could have changed between then and now. I could speculate all day, but I really don’t know what to expect.

    One thing that I have come to learn from Grand Prix is that they do their homework. These guys are big hitters and it is very cool to see the plan come to life. Especially knowing how many jabs they have taken from pundits in the rugby community.

  7. RugbyAmerica
    April 13, 2012

    Or July 2013 could be the kickoff of the competition?

    Or maybe they have shifted the focus to a strictly domestic based competition?

    The talk of playing outside of the IRB season also coincided with talk of taking a more global approach to the competition. Given that they will undoubtably recruit many of the top players in the world, I’d be surprised if the competition conflicts with the IRB World Series.

  8. Shaun Shepard
    April 13, 2012

    Looke liek they’ve launched a revamp of the website as well. With a new domain name. The old one still works as well and redirects you to the new one.

  9. Not a season yet
    April 13, 2012

    The July 2013 Championship will probably be a one off tournament to launch GPR. The business plan I saw that was floating around a few years back had a million dollar championship tournament “launching” pro-sevens. I think their plans are to host an international tournament with professional teams (they cannot use national teams) and at least 4 USA select sides (as contracted by USAR). How a team gets invited or qualifies to play in the championship is a mystery, but the “season” for pro rugby will most likely not come into effect until 2014. That is my educated guess, but things seem to always be evolving with GPR.

  10. yankee_rob
    May 9, 2012


    Is it true that Grand Prix Rugby are interested in rugby league? If so that is quite disappointing. They haven’t even got the 7s series off the ground yet and according to Dave Niu at We Are Rugby they are already trying to bring some professional rugby league matches to LA with the hope of starting a professional competition. They will consider league but won’t even consider a 15s competition. I wonder if Nigel Melville knew about this before he gave them exclusive rights for the next 6 years.

  11. yankee_rob
    May 11, 2012

    Dave Nui got the article from Fox Sports down in Oz. The thing that pisses me off is that he keeps trying to associate his sport (league) with the American Rugby Union scene and that league is just another variety of rugby like 7s. It is a completely different sport….I hope Grand Prix Rugby realize this.

  12. yankee_rob
    May 12, 2012

    WTF! It looks like Grand Prix Rugby have just bought the AMNRL! I thought they were going to invest in union and they have now done an about face.

  13. workingclassrugger
    May 12, 2012

    It’s very disappointing and odd move to be honest. The AMNRL is a nothing organisation with a very, very limited competition and footprint. A 15s entity would have been the better option to secure the support of the US Rugby community.

    • yankee_rob
      May 13, 2012

      I can’t help but think russell crowe is some where in the back ground quietly making all this happen. It is disappointing considering league has about 15 years of history and only 16 teams total in the US and Rugby (union) has 100 years of history, 100,000 players and over 300 teams. I have gone from being a fan of Grand Prix Rugby to hoping it flops.

      William Tathams in his statement referred to Rugby Union as the NFL of the world, which tells me he views this whole thing as another USFL versus NFL crusade. People have this view of America that we have endless resources for new sports. I can tell you with confidence when league gets a professional competition it is going to be a real drain on rugby’s talent pool, coaches, sponsors and growing fan base. Any chance of winning a medal in the Olympics will go bye,bye. I say ban anything to do with Grand Prix Rugby until they decide to start a 15s competition.

  14. MattD
    May 14, 2012

    I was an ardent fan of Grand Prix Rugby right up until they purchased AMNRL. I now hope even their sevens competition is an epic failure. This sevens purchase was a trojan horse, and I bought it hook, line and sinker…. no more. On they were talking about a “World Rugby League Sevens or Nines” competition…. Is this a fucking joke???

    Well I’ll tell you one thing. They just lost me as a fan. What a shame. I finally thought something good was coming to rugby.And instead we get another attempt by League to destroy the great game.

    • yankee_rob
      May 14, 2012

      I agree. I am utterly confused. William Tatham has bought russell crowe and david niu’s bs. Why would they want to create a completely different type of sevens to compete with rugby sevens that just became an olympic sport? Why would you want to bring in league which has no foot print to compete with rugby (union) which is just starting to take off.

      Personally I am firing off a letter to Grand Prix Rugby and Nigel Melville to them how pissed off I am as a ruby fan. Is there anyway USA Rugby can get out of there contract with GPR and give it to someone who wants to invest in rugby like USA Rugby Sevens LLC?

  15. yankee_rob
    May 14, 2012

    One last thing. It really pisses me off that they are using rugby sevens being included into the Olympics as a way to promote their sport. Almost as if league were in the Olympics as well.

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2012 by in Club Sevens, International Rugby.

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