ITV & O2 Present ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’

by Lisa McGarry

ITV today announced that it has signed an exclusive deal with O2 to broadcast a new rugby show: ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’.

The new show, featuring 6 hour long episodes, will see former England star Healey attempting to change the fortunes of five struggling rugby clubs. Austin will work with the clubs, who include students, a women’s team and a team trying to regain former glories, on and off the pitch and will be calling on members of the current England team to help him with his task. Each programme will premiere on ITV4 on Sunday evenings after the Guinness Premiership Rugby highlights programme, and will be repeated midweek on ITV1.

A dedicated section of the ITV website will support the show with extra video footage, out-takes from the show and information on the rugby skills shown in the programme. The site will sit alongside which currently features video highlights of all Guinness Premiership matches and England and Harlequins star Danny Care’s blog.

The show is funded by England rugby sponsor O2, building on their ‘grassroots to glory’ support for England rugby and their ongoing commitment to the RFU’s Play On Rugby campaign which aims to keep school and university players connected with rugby. The concept for ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’ was created in association with Sport Entertainment and O2’s sponsorship content agency Drum. The show is being produced by North One Television.

Dave Fewings, ITV4 controller said: “ITV4 is delighted to broadcast ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’. This show will build on the success of our Guinness Premiership Rugby highlights and will appeal to a broad range of viewers. Austin Healey is a great fit for ITV4, as he’s both personable, and credible, to our viewers. This is another example of a valuable ad funded deal as more and more brands are attracted by the volume of an upmarket male audience delivered by ITV4.”

Mark Stevenson, Head of Sponsorship at O2 said: ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’ is another demonstration of O2’s ongoing support for rugby at every level of the game from community rugby through to the England team. We’re committed to delivering engaging rugby content for fans of the game and ‘The Big Tackle with Austin Healey’ is a great vehicle to give rugby and Austin fans alike a piece of great entertainment. ITV4 is a fantastic broadcast partner to be working with to bring the exploits of Austin and the rugby clubs to the small screen and a great fit in terms of audience demographic for the show.’