Hating ITV at RWC2011.

Well, it can’t be said that I didn’t try. I knew from the moment it was announced that ITV would yet again be poised to cover this Rugby World Cup (and the next one to boot) that it would be awful. Yet, as the opening ceremony geared up to its spectacular opening, number 3 was pressed on the remote, and we found ourselves sitting in front of ITV’s coverage. Granted, this was done out of an act of kindness for my non-Welsh speaking partner who was struggling with the commentary on S4C, but for whatever reason, I found myself giving ITV a chance. It did not take long for the hate to bubble to the surface.

Opening ceremony – you don’t get many of them, because you don’t get many Rugby World Cups, yet ITV took this as an opportunity to cut back to inane babble in the studio. Tune in for the opening ceremony, and get four blokes sitting down blowing smoke up each others’ arses. Off to S4C then for the rest of the ceremony. My partner may not have understood everything that was going on, but then again, despite being fully furnished with the Welsh language, it was a struggle to really explain what was going on anyway, opening ceremonies being as bizarrely devoid of logic as they always are.

For the start of the game, we were back with ITV, and it only took 13 minutes for the most irritating trait of ITV commentary to creep out. That was the time marker for the first random England reference, as Phil Vickery became a brief talking point. I challenge viewers of this tournament to find a game when ITV will not mention England during the coverage. Go on, I dare you, put yourself through the whole tournament and see if ITV can hold its tongue about the only nation it gives two craps about!

The commentary team generally though were as hopeless as we expected. Forget the irrelevant England reference, explain the tennis reference. Richard Krajicek? Richard bloody Krajicek? Tennis fans don’t talk about about Richard Krajicek anymore, so why the hell does he deserve a place in the Rugby World Cup lexicon? Andy Gomarsall as second pundit was just headache inducing. The most flat, pointless self referential gibber based nonsense heard from the commentary box since, well, since the last World Cup. ‘Go forward’, ‘great offload’, ‘thought that was harsh’ ‘guff’, ‘guff’, ‘guff’. If there was only an option to switch the commentary off and just enjoy the crowd noise…if only. He couldn’t resist chattering in the second half about England’s world cup final defeat when a TMO call came…shut up Gomarsall you irrelevant little bastard, just shut up, You were a terribly overrated scrum half during your career, and it is clear ITV has made the same mistake regarding your commentary skills.

I know I’ve started this tournament biased, I hate ITV rugby commentary, I hate ITV sports commentary generally (I gave up following Formula 1 for around 3 years thanks to them). But that is their fault, they are the one who are consistently awful, and two thirds into their coverage on day one, nothing has changed. Fortunately, my partner has stepped out, so back to S4C we go. Insightful commentary, a general knowledge of the game, even a general knowledge of the players that goes beyond the match programme blurbs shoved in front of the ITV team. Just such a standard that goes above and beyond anything that the goons of the No.3 channel has to offer. Thank you S4C, and sorry that you can only show us a few games – certainly everyone you do show will have an audience in this house – and we’ll just have to endure ITV for the rest of it.

Just to summarise, if good reader you hadn’t got it already – I bloody hate ITV!

  1. My understanding is you will have all of the games live on free-to-air television though, right? At least you get that – in New Zealand, we get very few live and not all the delayed in English. You need pay TV to see every game live. It’s our national sport in our own country, but we can’t see it. Awesome.

  2. Wow – that is shocking, no Government measures in place to protect the tournament/fixtures for the nation? That is a real surprise, seems so backwards for a nation, like you say, so driven by rugby.

  3. I saw the billing this morning on ITV1 as “Rugby World Cup OPENING CEREMONY” I also was truly disappointed on how much of the opening ceremony we got to see and also turned over to S4C whom seemed to be properly covering the ceremony.

    I think ITV Sport have spent vast amounts of money in this coverage and it shows in their superior studio, technology, gizmos and HD quality pictures. But sometimes the commentary can let it down.

    Im gonna carry on watching as we dont really have that much option and just to say that all Wales games will be on ITV1 each time but with coverage FROM Wales rather than the English pundits that covered the opening ceremony! So there is hope at least of no mentions of THEM!

    Let’s find out on Sunday whether things have got better!


  4. Exactly, while we do have the luxury of being able to watch every game, we do have no choice. I dont need fancy graphics at half time – I understand the game well enough after two decades of watching. The only gizmo I need from ITV is a mute button.

  5. I agree with you about ITV, I hate them too. They trivialise everything…then there are the adverts, of which the channels own teasers are by far the most migraine-inducing of the medium. I don’t know much about rugby, but Channel 4’s cycling coverage is not too bad, even allowing for the presence of Paul Sherwen. But for stroke-inducing rage, try watching Eurosport english language coverage of the cycling classics with David Duffield. Thankfully, he seems to have been put out to grass now.

    • Thanks for commenting Iain, there certainly seem to be no shortage of ITV haters out there. Can’t say I’ve had the chance to sample Eurosport efforts, but from your comment, I’m not sure I want to risk it!

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