Rugby night grabs headlines as Six Nations claim ‘no justification’ for insisting it remains free to watch on TV

Here are the latest rugby headlines from Wednesday 16 March.

Claim of Six Nations Television

Six Nations boss Ben Morel, along with his IRFU counterpart, has claimed there is “no justification” for making Europe’s flagship rugby tournament a compulsory free competition.

Rugby bosses are said to have made the comments to Catherine Martin, Ireland’s media minister, as she reviews the list of sporting events that must be made available for free viewing on television. Ireland matches at the Rugby World Cups must be free, but Six Nations matches are not subject to the same rules.

The same goes for the rest of the home nations, who are on the UK government’s ‘crown jewels’ list, which says the Rugby World Cup is rugby’s only event – along with its football counterpart. , the Olympics, the FA Cup Final, Wimbledon and the Grand National – protected.

Read next:The six contenders for the Six Nations Player of the Year title

The Times reports that Mr Morel and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said in a joint letter to the Irish minister that there was “no justification” for making the Six Nations a compulsory competition in the clear, saying: “This is currently more relevant than ever due to the global coronavirus pandemic and the cataclysmic effect it has had on the financial stability of Irish rugby union, its provinces and associated clubs. .

“As you are aware, the IRFU is in the process of receiving financial support from the Irish Government, and a list of free live coverage of Irish international rugby matches would create an even greater dependency on such support. Throughout the Guinness Six Nations Championship’s 20-year history in its current form, the competition has remained available in the clear despite not having to be.”

It was feared the current round of Six Nations broadcast rights would see coverage behind a paywall, but a new TV deal has been announced after the 2021 tournament whereby the BBC and ITV share Six Nations broadcast rights for men, women and under 20. tournaments from 2022 until after the competitions of 2025.

But what happens after that remains to be seen, with many believing that private equity firm CVC Capital Partners joining in buying a stake in Six Nations means they could consider turning to Sky, Amazon and BT to try to increase marketing. income in the future.

England star banned for 82-second red card

England second row Charlie Ewels has been suspended for three weeks after being sent off 82 seconds in the Six Nations against Ireland on Saturday.

An independent judicial panel ruled that a number of mitigating factors allowed Ewels to avoid a longer ban based on World Rugby head contact regulations.

The decision means Ewels will miss England’s next game against France on March 19 as well as Bath’s games against Sale and Worcester Warriors this month – although the final match could also be replaced if Ewels undertakes a program coach intervention.

In a statement, the panel said it had determined that “the act of foul play was reckless due to the player’s poor tackling technique”, and noted that Ewels had admitted his tackle had earned him a card. Red.

The statement added: “The player never lowers, or attempts to lower, his body height prior to contact with the ball carrier, resulting in a violent clash of heads.

“The player had a good line of sight to the ball carrier and was in control of his actions coming into contact. There was no sudden significant drop or movement by the ball carrier before contact.

Based on this, the Committee applied World Rugby’s mandatory average entry point for foul play resulting in head contact. This resulted in a starting point of a six-week suspension.

“Having acknowledged mitigating factors including the player’s early acceptance of the red card, his remorse and contrition for his offence, his relatively unblemished disciplinary record over a long playing career and his good character and conduct At the hearing, the committee reduced the six-week entry point from three weeks, resulting in a three-week sanction.”

Wales captain tests positive

Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap tested positive for Covid-19 just 10 days before the start of the Women’s Six Nations.

Lillicrap was due to attend the official launch of the tournament in London on Wednesday but had to forfeit at the last minute.

Number eight has returned home and will now follow isolation and testing protocols.

Wales open their campaign against Ireland on March 26 in Dublin.

Henderson thrilled to win silverware

Iain Henderson says it would be “incredibly huge” for the current crop of Irish players to lift silverware on home soil for the first time.

The Ulster captain is set to make his first start in this year’s Guinness Six Nations when Scotland travel to the Aviva Stadium for Saturday’s crucial Round 5 clash.

Victory over Gregor Townsend’s men will secure the triple crown and leave Ireland’s dreams of Championship glory resting on England’s ability to upset Grand Slam-seeking France.

While Ireland won the title in 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2018, they haven’t lifted a major trophy in Dublin since the 2004 Triple Crown – five years before Andy Farrell’s current side was capped.

“The chance of being able to lift silverware with any team, especially your country, is absolutely huge,” he said.

“Actually, I don’t know if any guys have lifted silverware internationally at home. That would be incredibly huge.

“I think the excitement it’s brought us this week has been huge, it’s a huge driver for us.

“But we have to make sure we put that excitement aside to make sure we can focus on our game.

“Guys who have been involved for a number of years know how hard it is to come across something at international level, some form of silverware.

“We have to focus on the Triple Crown. And then obviously whatever happens after that will be an added bonus. Hopefully England can get the job done on France.”

A new “smart” rugby ball in the test

Premiership Rugby Cup matches will start from this week testing the ‘smart’ rugby ball which aims to transform the way data is processed by coaches, players and fans.

The ball, which has been in development for years, will be used for the last 15 games of the cup competition, starting with three games on Friday night – Bristol against Bath, London Irish against Harlequins and Newcastle against Leicester.

The chips inside the ball communicate with sensors around the stadium up to 20 times per second, with an artificial intelligence tool then automatically allowing “accurate information and feedback on the movement of the ball as it is passed and punt – like speed, distance and suspension time, for example – to be seen in real time,” Premiership Rugby said.

The trial marks the first time the ball will be used in professional competition in the northern hemisphere.

Phil Winstanley, Director of Rugby at Premiership Rugby, said: “We are constantly looking for innovation and ways to develop the game and we are delighted that we have chosen to test this new smart ball.

“We hope this new rugby ball will help to better understand a new audience, while deepening our relationship with our current fans.

“The smart ball also gives our players and coaches the opportunity to improve their performance on the pitch and in training with unique data. Touring our clubs with the ball over the past few weeks has shown us that players and coaches can’t wait to get started with this.”

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