Sunday 20 August 2017

Waking hours with Rachel Wyse: 'the opportunity to do GAA was special to me'

Rachel Wyse (30) is a Sky Sports news anchor and former show jumper who competed at international level for Ireland. Born in Dublin, she lives in London, where she presents a two-hour daily show on Sky Sports News, and fronts the summer GAA coverage

Sky's Rachel Wyse
Sky's Rachel Wyse

Emily Hourican

Since I moved over to London to work for Sky five years ago, every single week of my life has been different. At the moment I'm in transition between working full time on Sky Sports News, to going into the GAA coverage for the summer. If I have to be in the office for 7am, I will get up at 6am. One of the great things about working for a TV company, as a girl, is that I can roll out of bed and leave the house, and get my hair and make-up done at the office. It's a nice way to wake up - with a coffee.

Once hair and make-up are done, I record a four- or five-minute bulletin with the main headlines of the day. Then I go downstairs to the news studio and have a production meeting with my producer. We discuss the main stories for the day, the issues around them, and what guests are coming in. Then I sit at my computer and prepare. I anchor a two-hour slot, from 10am to midday, and, of course, no matter how well you research the issues and background of each item, it's live television, and you never know what's going to happen. There will be breaking news stories and unexpected events. That's when you really have to be across everything, and just go for it. At the start, I found that daunting - I'd never worked in live television before. You do get thrown in at the deep end, and you have to sink or swim, but if you're passionate about it, then, really, that's what the job is all about. That's where the excitement comes from.

Once off-air, we do a debrief for about half an hour, and then we discuss the next day's show and prepare for that for a few hours. Then I'm free in the afternoons and can trot on and do a few things away from the office, such as a five-a-side football tournament at Stamford Bridge, or Ascot.

I'm lucky that I get to cover different things. For the summer, it's the GAA, so I'll be jumping on a plane to Dublin every Friday at 9am. Getting the opportunity to do the GAA coverage was special to me, because I'm Irish, and through this I get to go home and cover a sport that means so much to people.

The question of sexism in this business comes up very often; people will say there is a stigma, but I'm very lucky in that, as far as Sky is concerned, they have given me so many opportunities - to go out and interview massive names in sport, such as Katie Taylor and Juan Mata - because they believe I am capable of doing the job, not because I'm female. Asking me to front the GAA series was a huge deal, and I know they did it because I have proved myself over the last five years. I guess these questions are always going to pop up, and maybe some women do feel they need to prove themselves more because they are working in sport, but I don't put that extra pressure on myself. I just try to do the best I can.

When I first moved over to Sky, I felt like this little girl who had packed her bags and moved to London, having never really been away from home before. All of a sudden, I was working in one of the busiest sports newsrooms in the whole of Europe. There is attention on you, and very quickly you realise that people are watching you, commenting on you and forming opinions about you. At the start, I found it a bit weird and daunting, but now I've learned to filter out things that aren't necessarily very nice. By and large, people are exceptionally encouraging, so when someone says something negative, as Joe Brolly did, even though he apologised, you just block it out. If it's constructive, you take it on board and use it to better yourself. You just have to focus on doing your job to the best of your ability. You learn to get on with these things. If you spent too long worrying what other people think, you'd never do anything.

For the first two months of the GAA coverage, it will be difficult to get home much because, although we do fly in and out of Dublin, we're working all around the country. But once we get to August and September, all the games are in Croke Park, so I'll get to spend a lot more time at home with my parents.

My sister and brother live and work in London too, so I see them often, and I have a lovely group of Irish friends who have all moved over. Once I'm finished work, usually around 6pm, we tend to meet up. We eat out together a lot, or have dinners at one of our houses. For the next four months, I'll be working every weekend, so there won't be many opportunities to go out, but that's part of the business, and normal for me.

I still do a bit of horse riding, when I can. I have a couple of friends here in the UK who have racing yards, so if I can head down to them on a Friday or Saturday, I do, as much as possible. I miss it. Horses were such a massive part of my life, from the age of 10 up to 21 or 22. When I was younger, I always presumed I would work with horses in some capacity. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I realised I had to go to college and get a degree - I went to IADT and did business management - but I always thought I'd be involved with animals. I fell into working in a production company, and I really enjoyed it. I never had a plan to do this full-time. The passion started with the horses, and then I gradually got involved with more sports through the TV work.

Midweek, I tend to stay in or go home early. I'm not the best morning person, and the 6am alarm is always a bit of a struggle. I'm a night owl, so if I get to sleep by midnight, I think I'm doing well. But really, I don't feel like I have a job, because I love what I do and don't see it as work. Every day is something I look forward to. Every day is different and you don't know what's around the corner. I would never have dreamed, five years ago, that I would be presenting the All-Ireland finals at Croke Park for Sky, surrounded by 80,000 people.

Sky Sports will show 20 live GAA games this season as part of an unrivaled summer of sport, see skysports.ie

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