Aviva Premiership
Coaches to share game plans with TV broadcasters?
ESPN Staff
January 20, 2013
A TV cameraman prepares for the 2007 Rugby World Cup clash between Italy and Portugal at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on September 19, 2007.
BT Vision will broadcast the Aviva Premiership next season having secured exclusive rights last year © Getty Images

Premiership coaches are set to be asked to reveal their tactics to TV producers as part of radical plans reportedly being formulated by broadcasters BT Vision in the hope of increasing the appeal of the sport.

The digital TV giants secured exclusive rights to English rugby's top flight last year in a ground-breaking four-year deal with Premiership Rugby worth a reported £152m that will begin next season.

The Independent on Sunday reports that as part of their plans to attract a wider audience for the Premiership, BT Vision are hoping to persuade the clubs to share game plans with television commentators and allow training to be filmed with the TV analysts using the information to judge how successful their tactics have been implemented. In addition, they hopes to convince clubs to allow players to be interviewed as they come off the field at half-time or go into the sin-bin - a feature of rugby coverage elsewhere in the world.

Leicester Tigers' director of rugby Richard Cockerill told the newspaper: "BT are going to canvass clubs as to what we think are acceptable boundaries. They want to be cutting-edge, as producers always do. I think clubs would be open to it. You have to build the game and build the brand and build support within the game.

"That's what BT are paying for and money will be a dictator, no doubt. If it's not going to affect anything intrinsically within your culture, you can have common sense between the two parties. The more appeal you get into the wider public, and the more educated they get about what goes on, is appealing."

He added: "The other stuff, from a Leicester point of view - and we had this discussion with ESPN (current broadcasters alongside Sky Sports) - is that some things in rugby have to be sacrosanct. Hearing the coaches talk in the changing room or at the training ground - some of that is your IP [intellectual property]."

London Irish coach Brian Smith commented: "I'm pretty sure the coaches would guard their tactics jealously. I wouldn't be keen on sharing our thought process or detailed preparation. It's sport, it's not Big Brother."

A Premiership Rugby spokesman said: "From the start of the 2013-14 season Aviva Premiership rugby and the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership rugby sevens will be shown live on BT Sport.

"As part of this game-changing deal, we want to create unique TV coverage which is the envy of the world and will bring Aviva Premiership rugby to a new audience, while respecting the values and traditions of our current and valued supporters. The key thing is that any innovations will be introduced as a partnership between BT Sport, Premiership Rugby and its clubs.

"To ensure that happens, Premiership Rugby and BT Sport are visiting all clubs, exchanging ideas and thoughts. We are about to enter into a new, exciting and innovative era for club rugby. This process is part of our new partnership, and BT Sport is keen to hear how our clubs would innovate the TV coverage.

"Our aim is to capture the excitement and drama, giving viewers the best seat in the house. From next season, coverage will be exclusively shown on BT Sport and so it's an opportunity to explore new innovative formats. While it is too early to go into any more detail at this stage, BT Sport intends to bring the very best coverage to a world-class game."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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