Friday 24 February 2017

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GAA has little to learn from rugby

Two articles which appeared in last week's Sunday Independent sports section deserve comment.

Columnist John Greene quotes Kerry football manager Jack O'Connor, who claims nobody will go to watch Gaelic football if the game is not speeded up. Jack must still be in a state of shock after the Dubs plundered the All-Ireland title from the Kingdom so he decides to vent his anger at the game itself.

Having been involved in Gaelic games myself for over 50 years, I thought the games not involving Donegal provided very good fare in 2011 with many, many thousands paying to watch them. Jack's argument loses all credibility when he makes the following statement: "Rugby has done everything with its laws to speed up the game and it has worked".

In the totally over-hyped game of rugby, every scrum has to be reset two, three and even four times while the referee explains the rules to the grossly overweight players forming the scrum. When the ball eventually emerges from this mass of bodies, it is invariably kicked aimlessly upfield or kicked up into the stand.

In a game last week involving Munster the ball remained in practically the same spot for over six minutes and in another game prior to that the Munster forwards spent another six minutes rooting for the ball on the ground before passing it to the only player who could kick the bloody thing. My dear Jack, Gaelic football is not perfect but it has nothing to learn from this awful spectacle.

In another article, rugby columnist Neil Francis writes a lengthy defence of the loutish and drunken behaviour of the English rugby captain and some of his team-mates.

The following is an extraordinary excerpt from the article. "Alcohol has a traditional intrinsic and cultural association with the game of rugby union. It is strongly linked to the constituent fabric of the game and its social outer connections. It is not a coincidence that Guinness and Heineken have cultivated the association. Despite their best efforts, a lot of rugby players do not enjoy the product responsibly."

A couple of years ago, Irish rugby coach Declan Kidney complained about a 2.0pm kick-off for an international match because, he said, the Irish supporters would not have time to get 'warmed up'.

Who will forget the occasion when the rugby people got the law of the land changed to facilitate the playing of a Munster game on Good Friday?

I do not think the GAA has anything to learn from the game of rugby, either on or off the field

Matt Aherne

TG4 tied down by digital constraints

I have been reading with interest over the past two Sundays the views of Messrs Murphy, Miles, Monaghan and McGinty regarding the rugby coverage of TG4.

From what I can gather, there are two separate views regarding the said coverage.

Richard, Ronan and David [Nov 27] seem to be of the opinion that TG4 should provide a dual broadcasting service for the rugby games that they show, much in the same way that S4C in Wales do, ie a commentary is available in both Welsh and English. I would have no problem with a commentary in both Irish and English by TG4 for those who cannot understand the native tongue whatsoever.

Unfortunately, though, comparing TG4 and S4C is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, they are both fruits but both are completely different in terms of what they can actually provide. S4C can provide the multilingual service it does because S4C is a digital channel and hence they have a red button capability (like BBC and Sky). TG4 is not yet a digital channel but is an analogue UHF channel so therefore cannot provide two commentaries in two separate languages. I am quite sure TG4 would be more than willing to provide an English commentary with an Irish one but until the Irish terrestrial channels go digital, TG4 will have no choice but to continue to broadcast their coverage in Irish as it is the core language of the channel.

On the other hand, Patrick [Dec 4] just seems to have a problem with Irish to such an extent he cannot even watch matches that are broadcast through that medium. Even turning down the sound on the television is of little use as he quickly loses interest. I'm afraid I have no quick solution to this problem. The only one that comes to mind would be for him to lobby his local TD to fast-track a digital TV service in Ireland.

It must also be remembered that TG4 won their rugby rights in a fair process and now all Pro 12 televised games in Ireland are available to view free-to-air. Before the current RTE/TG4 contract, Pro 12 games, or Magners League games as they were then known, were broadcast on Setanta Sports which was most definitely not free-to-air.

Matt Coughlan

Sunday Indo Sport

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