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Inside the Scrum: What Austin Are Hoping to Gain from Landmark Docuseries

December 22, 2021 - Major League Rugby (MLR) - Austin Gilgronis News Release

On Sunday evening, FOX Sports 2 will be airing a brand-new rugby docuseries.

Inside the Scrum focuses on the efforts of Major League Rugby's Austin Gilgronis in the 2021 season, providing an access all areas look at professional rugby in North America.

With cameras present in each and every meeting, training session and in the locker room, you get to see how Sam Harris' first season as head coach unfolds, as well as to learn more about the Australian and his players.

Before 2021, Austin had always flattered to deceive, winning just four games out of 33 and in the 2019 season went winless.

Having to change a culture and the team's mentality, Harris' AGs narrowly missed out on the playoffs by 10 points, two bonus point wins standing between the side and a first taste of postseason rugby.

Over the course of the series, viewers will get to learn more about the personalities that make up the team.

Amongst those to get their fair share of screen time are Harris, player/coach Jamie 'Whoppa' Mackintosh, number one overall Draft pick Conner Mooneyham and the recently released Rodrick Waters.

The docuseries will be broadcasted into over 40 million homes, the potential of this series seemingly limitless.

"Doing the series came up in a meeting prior to the 2021 season starting," Mike Sheehan, Austin's GM, said.

"I went back, thought about it and thought that our owner, Adam Gilchrist, would love the idea. I thought a little bit more about it, and spoke to some friends to see if they knew anyone who could do this kind of thing.

"A friend of mine recommended Mickey Holden and Gilly (Gilchrist) said to go for it. Mickey and his crew began, our guys (Austin's media staff) helped him, and Sam Harris was a superstar.

"He's great on camera and was very open, and willing to allow his players and everyone else to get involved with the filming.

"FOX are going to take a larger role in rugby, and they were looking for shoulder programming to lead into the start of this new season.

"I don't know how many seats we will sell as a result of it, because it is not just Austin being impacted. It is across MLR and across the United States."

In recent years, docuseries' have gained an increasing popularity around the world. Since 2001, Hard Knocks has followed an NFL team as their preparations for the upcoming season were underway, while All or Nothing has not only followed NFL teams over a season, but numerous soccer teams and, most recently, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rugby documentaries aren't exactly run of the mill. In fact, they are seen sparingly having largely began in 1997, when the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa was captured in Living With Lions, with similar videos having been produced across the tours that have followed.

But yet, none of these were a docuseries, with new episodes released regularly that tell a story over several installations. In 2017 the All Blacks had their season catalogued by All or Nothing.

In 2019, South Africa similarly had their fortunes followed by a camera crew in Chasing the Sun. Following the team all the way to World Cup victory in Japan, the series was met with critical acclaim and Inside the Scrum will offer its own unique take on rugby.

No domestic side has ever had its fortunes followed in such a manner. A landmark occasion in every sense of the saying, Sheehan believes that by getting more MLR coverage onto people's television screens can only be beneficial to the league, and his team.

"A lot of our battles are about trying to get the word out to people and say, there is professional rugby here," he said.

"It is about getting exposure and getting eyeballs on it. From my experience at Austin, when you get people there and they actually see the fame, they love it. But it is getting them there.

"What is key to the sport is getting fans there, getting them to a certain level of understanding, and more importantly getting them to know who these guys are.

"These are huge men playing this game, risking almost everything, but who are they as people? Why would a guy from South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, who has played at the highest level, choose to come here and do this for not a lot of money?

"I think that is the most exciting part of the story and that is always what grabs you about Hard Knocks; the people. Our guys are really interesting human beings. They really are."

Inside The Scrum will be broadcasted on FOX Sports 2 for six consecutive Sundays starting December 26 at 7:00 PM ET. The series will conclude January 30 at 10:30 PM ET, one week before the 2022 MLR season gets underway.

Written by Joe Harvey

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