In the October issue of Rugby World, Sarah Mockford argued that we learn absolutely nothing from interviews with players at half-time during games, and that the whole practice should be binned.
As I looked around the Stade Jean Bouin midway through the Women’s World Cup final, I noticed Magali Harvey giving a TV interview on the pitch.
The half-time interview has sadly become commonplace in rugby, but a World Cup final? Surely that, at least, is sacrosanct. It seems not.
With Canada trailing 11-3 to England in the final, their star player was answering questions for TV viewers rather than taking in the key messages from her coaches and team-mates as to how her side could redress the balance in the second half.
IRB Women’s Player of the Year Harvey is not the only one subject to this sort of obtrusion during matches. On the same weekend as the Women’s World Cup final, South Africa’s Ruan Pienaar had a microphone thrust in front of his face as he walked off the pitch – sopping wet I should add given the cold, miserable conditions in Pretoria – at half-time during the Rugby Championship game against Argentina.
If these interviews delivered detailed insight perhaps the imposition for elite players would be if not justified, at least easier to stomach. Instead, they are bland, dull and offer the viewer nothing.
What these television producers expect a player to say isn’t clear, but surely speaking to an in-studio analyst who is not struggling for breath after 40 minutes of physical exertion would provide more interesting content.
While I’m on the subject of TV intrusions, I must mention cameras being pushed into team huddles. This practice is most prevalent in sevens, where teams hold their half-time team talks on the pitch, and during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow the ‘huddle cam’ was much used.
What’s so laughable is that commentators more often than not have to apologise for expletives picked up by the camera’s microphone during these huddles.
If live rugby coverage must involve cameras encroaching on team huddles, surely they can drop the sound to avoid capturing any swearing. A picture paints 1,000 words and all that…
TV’s done great things for rugby, but half-time interviews and huddle cams are not among them. Please cut them from programming.