Lack of European ChampionshipTV deal does RL no favours

The lack of a definitive announcement regarding TV coverage for the forthcoming European Championship is extremely troubling.

Just two days before the tournament begins in Workington on Friday night with Scotland playing Wales, there has been no news about how fans who can’t make the live game can actually watch it.

Sky are supposed to be the great white knights of rugby league, pumping money into the game and giving it a national profile. That commitment looks pretty shallow when you consider that they are not showing this tournament.

Premier Sports apparently want £30,000 for the privilege of broadcasting the competition.

The BBC, despite supposedly being a national broadcaster, is nowhere to be seen.

One wonders whether a live stream on the RLEF website could be the answer. In Scotland, the tabloid newspaper the Daily Record has streamed Scottish rugby union and soccer friendlies free of charge for viewers, and this type of thing might well be an option to consider for future events.

The Gaelic language channel BBC Alba, along with the Welsh channel S4C, both cover rugby union’s Pro 12 league. Just in case you weren’t aware, that’s a competition where Wigan flop Andy Powell remains a big star. Surely seeing the likes of Danny Brough, Eloi Pelissier and Theo Fages in action must be at least as entertaining as that?

Perhaps this is the consequence, yet again, of international rugby taking second fiddle to club self-interest. Fewer Super League players in the squads undoubtedly makes this kind of tournament less appealing to broadcasters.

That, in turn, leads us into a vicious circle of tournaments then attaining less coverage and losing even more status, making it even less likely that the best players will put up their hands to play.

Certain people in the game need to take a look at themselves when it comes to this kind of thing. The willingness of Danny Brough to step up sets a shining, and sadly rare, example.

It is absolutely vital that someone comes forward to broadcast a fine looking set of matches in some form another, even if it is only online.

Without the oxygen of publicity, international rugby league can look increasingly irrelevant. Making the international game less popular, and negatively affecting its credibility once again.

Which in turn negatively affects our chances of developing a higher profile for the sport in emerging markets, such as Ireland and Scotland.

Something needs to be done, and quickly. Let’s hope we get some good news before 8pm on Friday evening.

 

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