BBC Wales to fill Guinness PRO14 void by screening weekly Principality Premiership matches


BBC Wales will attempt to fill the void left by the loss of their Guinness PRO14 rights by screening Principality Premiership rugby on Friday nights this coming season.

The Beeb were rocked last March when pay TV channel Premier Sports outbid them to spell the end of an era of free-to-air coverage of the competition in Wales.

It left a gaping hole in BBC Wales’ sports output, but the corporation has decided to back the semi-professional tier by committing to a deal to screen its games for the 2018-19 season on BBC Two Wales.

How Premiership matches will be received by viewers used to watching the full-time professional action of the PRO14 remains to be seen.

But in a press release announcing the coverage BBC Wales did their best to trumpet the prospect, labelling the coming season ‘the most exciting yet’ and emphasising the ‘historic rivalries’ and ‘local derbies’ that will be on offer.

There was also the promise of ‘every fixture being meaningful and keenly fought’.

Merthyr captain Craig Locke celebrates with his team after winning the Principality Premiership last season

It’s understood that with no other rugby to show, BBC Wales bosses came to the conclusion that they may as well give the Premiership a go, though there remains scepticism within Broadcasting House about its appeal.

Who anchors the coverage and whether the BBC will continue to use pundits of the stature of Jonathan Davies and Martyn Williams to analyse action with a far lower profile, has yet to be finalised.

The first match to be broadcast will be from Eugene Cross Park where Ebbw Vale will take on Aberavon on September 7.

Welsh Rugby Union head of performance, Geraint John, said: “This a great opportunity for all of the Premiership clubs to demonstrate their quality at the top end of club rugby in Wales.

“Collectively there is a great history running through the clubs and with a lot of young aspiring players stepping up to the top end of club rugby where they will meet players who have already established themselves in the game, the chance to play in front of a new televised audience is an exciting prospect for all concerned.”

In a further announcement, BBC Wales revealed their their Sunday evening magazine programme Scrum V will continue to run this coming season.



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