Saturday, April 07, 2012

Welsh Rugby RIP Thanks To BBC

Finally, a blissful relaxing day walking the Berwyn Hills in Wales and watching lots of rugby.

But there is a worrying underside to the huge success of our national rugby side that I pondered as I trugged the tracks above my home.

Top Welsh rugby sides are hardly able to command home gates of 5,000 despite the huge success of our national side. At the same time, even Scotland's top club had a crowd of 35,000 today. Last week Saracens, in the English league, managed over 80,000 for a club match. Meanwhile, in Ireland, build the biggest stadium you can and the Irish will fill it for a decent rugby match.

And it's been noticeable how empty stadia have been in South Africa and even in New Zealand, home of the world champions. This is more than a local problem.

What accounts for this discrepancy?

Well, I believe that population is one factor (although Ireland has roughly the same population as Wales and New Zealand). Poverty is another - although, again, Ireland has been hardest hit and New Zealand is doing pretty well economically.

There are obviously cultural issues - but I believe that the real reason is television rights.

Wider TV coverage has been both a blessing and a curse to the game. The rights have poured a relatively large amount of money into the coffers of the rugby clubs. But an average top Welsh rugby side has to be run on the salary of a middling premership footballer.

Then there's the Welsh channel S4C, long fought for, credited with a resurgence in Britain's native tongue, but hopeless in the ratings, with nothing apart from rugby getting anywhere close to 100,000 simultaneous viewers. Worse still, it is little more than a colonial outpost if the BBC, which has long monopolised all media in Wales with a vicious hand redolent of the British Empire mercilesly attacking any potential competition.

So, S4C is probably destroying Welsh rugby, but it could not survive without it.

The most successul rugby nation in the Northern Hemisphere is, ironically, commercially bankrupt and paid for by BBC licence payers.

So, in life, we are but in death... The Welsh need to attend more regional rugby games in droves. The WRU needs to move one side to the North of the country and launch its own PPV channel since there is no longer any competition for Welsh rugby rights - a dreadful position to be in.

With the dreadful fascists at the BBC in charge, none of this will happen and Welsh rugby's golden era will be destroyed by a bunch of beaureaucratic morons whose salaries are paid by fans.