The first Chalkboard feature length sports documentary, covering the Great Britain Rugby League Lions 2019 tour, is set to debut on 21st November.


BBC iPlayer will debut “Once Were Lions” on Saturday 21st November. “This gripping documentary film gives iPlayer viewers privileged access to the GB Lions squad on tour together with fascinating insights into Rugby League, its roots and its future,” Dan McGolpin, controller of BBC iPlayer, said. “Whether you are new to the sport or already a fan, it’s an enjoyable and rewarding watch ahead of next year’s World Cup.”

"Once Were Lions" follows the GB Lions as they tour New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The feature-length documentary was produced by UK-based independent production company Chalkboard Television and award-winning documentary producer Ad Hoc Films. Executive producers are Mike Benson from Chalkboard, Mat Hodgson and Daniel Glynn from Ad Hoc, and Mandy Chang and Jo Lapping from the BBC. RDA will be responsible for the feature's internatinal rights.The London-based media rights agency has garnered a roster of leading clients in rugby union, rugby league, tennis, cricket, wrestling, and MMA.

The film reflects on the factors that brought the team worldwide popularity, such as their skill, strength, speed, and unique heritage. “'Once Were Lions' is about much more than a rugby league tour,” Mike Benson, executive producer, Chalkboard said. “ It is about forgotten towns and teams, and a proud sport that’s in search of a future. Rugby League has always been tied to class, industry, stereotypes, and politics, something it still struggles to escape and our film seeks to explore these themes.”

The feature-length film explores various known issues of masculinity, race, class, friendship, ambition, and sacrifice within the Rugby League community. The 2021 Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to take place in England. The documentary joins several other documentaries on iPlayer, including “Lance,” “OJ: Made in America,” “When We Were Kings,” “The Two Escobars,” “Climbing Blind,” “The Edge,” “The Australian Dream,” “Afghan Cricket Club: Out Of The Ashes,” and “The Eagle Huntress.” “Rugby League is a multi-layered sport of extreme physical skill, intense camaraderie and mental demands, which embodies different communities and fosters a strong and deep-rooted sense of social identity,” Ad Hoc Films’ Mat Hodgson said. 

Once Were Lions' is about much more than a rugby league tour. It is about forgotten towns and teams, and a proud sport that’s in search of a future.” Mike Benson Executive Producer, Chalkboard

Related News