Live Welsh Premiership Rugby to Boost Grassroots Game?

There is no doubting the passion of the Welsh fans when it comes to following their rugby playing nation. Whether it is the Six Nations or the World Cup, the Welsh are there to cheer their team on in huge numbers.

The Welsh National rugby team has enjoyed plenty of success in recent years.  They narrowly missed reaching the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final by a single point and reached the quarter finals in 2015 after suffering a string of unfortunate injuries. While in the Six Nations they brought home silverware in 2012 and 2013, however there has been some concern about the sport at a grassroots level.

Will the new deal to show live Principality Premiership rugby on the BBC help to improve the state of grassroots rugby in Wales?

In 2017, a report highlighted one of the many issues facing rugby at grassroots level. There were matches being played with dramatic standard differences which resulted in heavy victories, one of which was 133-7 win for Ruthin over Abergele.

It was far from an even contest and Abergele had just 15 players available and without the necessary cover for the front row positions, uncontested scrums were used throughout the match.  Abergele lost a player due to injury and also received a yellow card, which allowed their opponents to run rampant.

Teams scoring over 100 points to win games and matches being called off due to teams failing to field a team continues to be a problem in the amateur Welsh game. Will live Welsh Premiership rugby boost the grassroots game?

The BBC announced coverage of Welsh Principality Premiership rugby for the 2018/19 season. The BBC will show a live game on Friday night, available on BBC Two Wales and the BBC website, there will also be matches televised on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. In addition to this, there will be a full highlights package on Scrum V every Sunday evening throughout the season.

The new deal will give clubs competing in the Welsh Premiership an opportunity to display their skills to a wider audience, an added incentive to player performance is the removal of the leagues3 year ring-fence, now allowing clubs to be relegated and promoted.

It promises to be an exciting year in the Premiership!

Which will hopefully result in more people not only watching Welsh club rugby but wanting to be a part of the sport. While many young rugby fans are aware of the Six Nations, European Cup and the Pro14, some are unaware or have little knowledge of the Welsh Premiership. Showing matches live on the BBC on Friday night not only brings the league into the homes of current players, maintaining their interest but most importantly of potential new players.

Live coverage of games will add to the revenue of Premiership clubs and hopefully some of this will filter down the system to aid smaller clubs. However, the main issue facing grassroots rugby in Wales appears to be participation numbers.

If live coverage of the Welsh Premiership by the BBC on a Friday night can introduce more people to rugby in Wales, it could provide a timely boost to the sport at grassroots level. Whether new players, potential coaches or even off field volunteers want to join their local club having seen Welsh club rugby live on television, it will be a big step in the right direction.