Let documentarians call the shots. This is an edited version of a piece in the January edition of Rugby World


Opinion: Six Nations series could soar – if film-makers have control

OVER THE last few years, we have heard whisperings about a documentary series for the Six Nations. Exploratory calls have been made, we’re told. There’s big interest behind it, others add. And now Netflix have confirmed a Six Nations 2023 docuseries.

So what would it mean for the competition? The current bosses of the championship have said they want to grow an audience and woo new fans – many have seen what the Drive to Survive series has done for Formula One, and they want a slice of that. However, the Six Nations management always stipulate that any commercial moves have to be deliberately geared at growing the game.

Which would be amazing but sports fans have a pretty good radar for overt PR. With a documentary series from the next Six Nations, the content has to feel authentic, as well as having the high production value we expect today. Arguably the first series of DTS worked because of the candid chat – and chaos – of characters like Guenther Steiner of Team Haas. In 2021, one of the producers of that series, James Gay-Rees, told Rugby World: “These things are really hard to make interesting, because either you didn’t get the right access or you’re getting spun too much. That’s really our job.”

Six Nations Netflix series has huge potential

So when documentarians come into the Six Nations, trust the film-makers to pick the narratives, pinpoint the characters they want to feature, and make the series they want to make. You want the spirit of the Living with Lions doc, from 1997, that felt like a direct line into the team. In some recent documentaries, you can almost smell the final approval from the subject – you only see what they want you to. Less fly-on-the-wall, more ‘fly in their designated area’.

Do that, and all you might get is the banal and the safe. We want conflict and character. We need it. So do new fans.

This is an edited version of a piece in the January edition of Rugby World

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