Kay joins ESPN after announcing retirement
June 9, 2010
Ben Kay will join Nick Mullins as ESPN's co-commentator © Getty Images
World Cup winner Ben Kay has joined ESPN's commentary team for next season after announcing his retirement.
After 11 seasons in the Guinness Premiership, winning six titles and two Heineken Cups, Kay, who was capped 62 times by England, joins Nick Mullins and Austin Healey as co-commentator for the coverage of the 2010-11 season.
"I had one or two other options," Kay said, "but really I was only keeping things open while ESPN confirmed this deal." Asked about the alternatives, he declined to elaborate: "It would seem like kicking them in the teeth.
"I'm delighted to be joining ESPN at such an exciting time for the broadcaster as it prepares to be the lead UK TV broadcaster of Premiership Rugby. ESPN has a great reputation for producing top quality rugby programming around the world, and I hope that I can add to that reputation."
Kay played 22 times for Leicester after ending his England career after last summer's tour to Argentina, and the club did not offer him a new contract at the end of the season. "I could have gone on, but after 20 minutes of the England-Barbarians match at Twickenham a few weeks ago, this was starting to look a better and better option," he said.
ESPN has a multi-year deal for exclusive live rights to 43 Premiership matches a season, including the final and one of the semi-finals. The agreement also provides highlight rights for use on ESPN digital media.
It was also announced on Wednesday that ESPN will also exclusively broadcast the new J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series, a new Friday evening competition that will take place in July and August.
The innovative tournament, which will feature all 12 Premiership clubs, is designed to attract a new audience to the game and create a thrilling new opportunity for existing rugby fans to watch their favourite clubs during the summer.
The 12 Premiership Rugby clubs will be divided into three groups for the tournament, with the winner and runner up of each regional event going through to the final on Friday, August 6, 2010.
The three regional events will take place at The Twickenham Stoop, Welford Road and Franklin's Gardens. Tickets for all events will be £10 for adults and £5 for juniors and can be purchased from Ticketmaster.co.uk or through the host clubs. The venue for the final will be confirmed shortly.