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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 11:22 GMT
Q&A: BBC Head of Rugby Pat Younge
BBC TV Sport's head of programming Pat Younge

We gave Scrum V users the chance to quiz the BBC's head of rugby programmes, Pat Younge.

Pat is the man charged with bringing in-depth rugby coverage to your television screens and the revamped Rugby Special.

He answered your questions on the BBC's coverage of the sport.

Dewi Bach

Would it be possible to re-run the Six Nations games as live on BBC3 or 4 either later in the evening or on the following day in the afternoon or evening?

A chance for those that have missed it to get a better outlook on the game rather than watching selected highlights?

This is a good idea, and something we tried with the England v NZ Barbarians match. It is something we'll look at for 2005.


Can Pat and the Six Nations committee try to arrange it so that there are no Sunday kick-offs? This is the biggest bane of a fans life and spoils the whole tradition of the tournament.

Can't help you with this I'm afraid, and not sure how much of a bug bear it is. The Six Nations is just 15 games and to show three on one day leads to 8pm kick-offs.

Also the stadia are selling out on Sundays, and audiences are strong so I'm afraid Sundays remain.


Can there be more post match analysis of the game rather than the two minutes we currently get?

I know your frustration. If matches kicked off on time this would be less of a problem, and especially for Saturday night matches when we are in peak it is a problem. We are also looking at how to improve this.

Bath Baby

Pat, congratulations on securing the rights for the Six Nations. Will the BBC be looking to expand its rugby broadcasting to include the women's World Cup games? Would the BBC be prepared to invest in coverage of Parker Pen games, Celtic League and Division One highlights? Are there any plans to cover anything more than the Challenge Cup in rugby league??

All of these competitions cost money, and we only consider properties that could sustain a network audience. Certainly we have no interest in the Parker Pen as the ERC chose Sky, and with the greatest respect National League rugby is not a network proposition.

We have shown Celtic Cup finals in the past, and could do again subject to scheduling. As regards the Challenge Cup, we have recently announced commitments to at least 12 highlights shows of Super League play-offs/Grand final and Tri-Nations.

Earl of Cherwell

Can the BBC get someone to do the touchline interview and piece to camera who knows something about rugby?

The touchline role is one of the hardest to get right - we call it the "kiss and cry" role, as usually the interviewee is elated or deflated. Jill Douglas, our lead reporter, is very adept at this and Sonja and Craig our more junior reporters are developing well.


Why is the general standard of rugby broadcasting seem so poor on the BBC. The commentators tend to waffle in a semi self-righteous manner on some tangent, so much so that you tend to lose interest in what they are saying!

Also the camera work has looked decidedly average at times - wrong camera angles so you cannot tell what is going on and showing replays when the game has clearly re-started. It is great to have rugby on the BBC as it widens the games appeal but not in such a poor manner!

I won't pretend we get everything right - far from it - and everyone can have an off-day. Personally I feel we do show too many replays, and we are now working to a "live action first" goal.

Inevitably we will miss some restarts and some are miss-able. The judgement is knowing which.

The Arm

The BBC really has to review their coverage of rugby in Scotland. While the it is positive to hear about the new deal to screen the six nations on terrestrial TV, there needs to be far greater coverage of the game below international level.

Additionally I understand that there was a separate BBC Scotland show for the Calcutta Cup match. However as not all of us are lucky enough to be up north, why did we have to endure a team in the studio of Guscott and Davies. Could you not have employed at least one Scot to provide a bit of balance?

The general point about BBC Scotland's policy towards rugby is something you need to raise with them. As regards our talent on the Calcutta Cup - we put our "A" team on it, which includes our pitch side reporter Jill Douglas, who had Andy Nicol with her.

Also, don't remember - Scottish complaints when Bill was commentating on England v Ireland. We put the best people on the best matches.


Rugby Special and the like continue to be scheduled far past my bedtime and I'm nearly 30.

There was obvious interest in rugby after the World Cup but it's as easy to catch baseball on Channel 5 as it is one of our national sports on our national channel. Any chance of it being on before 10?

Yes, during the Six Nations we're showing seven-eight match-hours of live rugby, so Rugby Special is late night with a Friday afternoon repeat. Once the Six Nations is over it will be between 12 and 1pm on Sunday.


May I suggest the BBC look to replace the current commentators before the start of next years competition.

What's wrong with having Guscott, Davies, Fitzpatrick and Wood as the commentators instead of panel guests, I would suggest they would be a vast improvement!

Sorry you don't like any of our commentators! We do use Jonathan as co-commentator, and it is a position we may consider with some of the others. However I retain full confidence in our commentary teams.


As a TV license holder and thus potential shareholder in the BBC I don't think I'm getting a fair return on my money in terms of rugby coverage of Ulster rugby.

To make a show you need rights. The IRFU who were party to the decision to sell the ERC rights to Sky, forgetting the excellent coverage provided by BBC NI. Sky were sold the UK rights, which is why the matches are still available on RTE and FR2.


It's good news that the Six Nations will be free to view. But what about the rest of the year? The demand is clear, and rugby offers so much more than some of the so called sports that occupy screen time. Can the BBC not find some more rugby so that it can develop better presentation and commentaries over the year

There's no doubt that we would like more top quality rugby, providing it's at a price that reflects its value.



Six Nations TV highlights
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