Archive for February 12th, 2007

BBC gets it wrong

February 12, 2007

The B.B.C.’s website is normally a good place to follow the Six Nations Rugby Union competition, but not this year.

Far be it from me to criticize attempts to bring in blogging, but it looks as though the Beeb has spent all its money and efforts on getting a blog up and deliberately trashed the rest of the rugby union section of the site.

1) No Six Nations section.

If the B.B.C.  was trying to make it difficult for anyone to find the overall coverage and summary of the latest news for the competition, then the set-up would make sense. However, the B.B.C. is spending large sums on promoting coverage of the Six Nations, so this makes no sense at all. Is there some faction in the B.B.C. trying to sabotage another faction?

2) The vanishing pundits.

One of the bits of fun is getting the views of the four pundits (France and Italy are treated like n*****s for the purpose of the B.B.C.’s coverage, but more on that later). They predict the results of all the games, and often do a pretty good job. Even when they’re wrong, it’s often because they decided that a big match would swing one way and it didn’t. Unpredictability is part of the charm of watching sporting events.

So why is it virtually impossible to locate this page? There is no link to it anywhere on the B.B.C. web site that I can find. If I didn’t deliberately go looking for it I would never find it.

One conspiracy theory would be that the pundits know they’ve got their forecasts hopelessly wrong this year, so the evidence is being buried.

Consider the forecasting so far with six matches played: Jonathan Davies (3 right, 3 wrong); Jeremy Guscott (4 right, 2 wrong); Andy Nicol (2 right, 4 wrong); Keith Wood (4 right, 2 wrong). As for the championship predictions, let’s just say they are dead and buried.

3) Stuff the Continental n*****s.

There are over 300,000 French people living in the U.K.. I have no idea how many Italians live here, but the number is no doubt at least in the tens of thousands.

So why is it that the other four nations get their own sections and neither Italians nor French do? It’s bad enough that the punditry is entirely ignorant of the continent. But I didn’t think the B.B.C. was so automatically sectarian as to treat the non-British Isles teams as n*****s, to not be allowed in the pavillion.

The situation is all the more ridiculous that there is no end of Italian and French talent as players in the English Premiership. Among the managers, Philip Saint-André should be able to give some kind of coherent viewpoint.

4) Why France was underestimated.

The conventional wisdom in the B.B.C.’s build-up to the Six Nations was the following:

Ireland had a great autumn international series and were well placed to perform well this year. I agree. It took a remarkable game for the Irish to lose to France at the week-end. I still fancy the Irish to win their remaining matches and to be in reasonable shape for the World Cup. Yes Ireland and Argentina could dump France out of the World Cup on home territory in the group stages, if the hosts don’t perform very well.

England very rubbish, but a few old and new faces would bring back some dynamism. True, but is it enough? We shall see. Don’t bet the house on England retaining the World Cup. In fairness, the conventional wisdom seems to work here.

Scotland and Wales have problems. They almost always do these days. The Scotland win last Saturday was good for them, but I gather it was like watching lightweight boxers wearing jelly gloves.

Italy going backwards? If so for how long?  It will probably take something like a fluke talent (the next David Campese) to happen to be Italian for that team to go anywhere soon.

Which leaves France. Lost twice to New Zealand, once heavily, and narrowly beat Argentina (who beat England).  On the face of it a shambles.

But the truth of the French mood was quite different. Yes New Zealand are way ahead of everyone else. The second test, however, was a tighter game and the management  were satisfied with the improved performance. The win against Argentina came after a string of losses against the Pumas, so it was considered an achievement, not a disappointment.

Coming into this Six Nations championship, France considered a Grand Slam achievable, given the turmoil in the England and Wales camps recently. Recent performances against Ireland left the French optimistic, if only because the Croke Park atmosphere could harm the Irish as much as the Stade de France once choked the French team in the late 1990s.

I knew this from reading L’Equipe. How come no one on the B.B.C.’s rugby coverage team knew it?