James Haskell has launched a scathing attack on rugby’s ‘diabolical’ TV coverage, blasting BBC and ITV.
“My concerns with rugby and the professional game are that people involved in rugby think rugby is everything and that everyone cares about rugby. They think everyone knows about it and they just don’t,” said Haskell, who was speaking on the The House of Rugby Podcast with Alex Payne and fellow ex-England player Mike Tindall.
“Outside in the real world you suddenly realise if you ever get out of that bubble that people don’t care and that it’s a third or fourth tier sport. It’s never going to compete with football.
“It’s not even in the same league, competition. If football is at the top of the ladder, then rugby can’t even see the bottom rung.
“So I think the whole game has to be centred around being accessible, and I think the TV commentary stuff, it’s just diabolical, boring.
“Nobody watches BT Sport. I don’t know how many viewers they get for that Rugby Tonight or whatever. No disrespect to them. It’s (Rugby Tonight) got an amazing plethora of reporters and skillful people, legends of the game, but nobody watches BT Sport.
“Unless they do it because they are going to watch the Premiership. How many tune in to Rugby Tonight? I don’t know.
“I watched the coverage of the Six Nations. There are boys who are still involved who are great at what they did. It’s just there’s a younger generation with a short attention span – you need to be punchy and interesting.
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“When you tune in to an international game, you want someone engaging, someone upbeat, someone informed.
“You don’t want dreary old nonsense. Sorry to say but that’s what my experience of watching the last few years has been.
“For example, I thought Dylan Hartley on the BBC when he came on against France was fantastic. Current, informed, interesting, opinionated, countered, knew exactly what was going on in the mental mindset.
“Anyone who hasn’t been around a changing room for the last five years, you’re just watching like everyone else.”
James Haskell’s fights: Five of his iconic SCRAPS
Former England rugby star James Haskell is due to make his Bellator MMA professional debut at London’s SSE Arena on Saturday, May 16, with his opponent yet to be confirmed.
Here are five times he held his own on and off the rugby pitch.
1. Punching Justin Downey
Back in 2012, Haskell was cited and subsequently banned for punching against the Cheetahs following the Highlanders’ 36-33 win in Bloemfontein. He was yellow carded at the time, despite the assistant referees recommending a higher sanction.