sport

Coaches set to talk tactics

Premiership coaches will be asked to consider divulging tactics to TV commentators before matches as part of the broadcasting deal with BT.

The Independent on Sunday reported BT will propose that commentators are given information by team coaches and then sworn to secrecy until the match is under way, while the broadcaster is also reported to be keen on interviewing players as they leave the field at half-time and on placing a camera in the pitch to give a 'worm's eye view' of the scrum.

Premiership Rugby confirmed that its representatives were visiting top-flight clubs with BT Sport, "exchanging ideas and thoughts". It is understood the process will be concluded by the middle of next month.

BT Vision will take over from Sky and ESPN next term as sole broadcasters of the Premiership after agreeing a 152million, four-year deal. They will also show European games for three years from 2014.

A Premiership Rugby spokesman said: "From the start of the 2013-14 season Aviva Premiership rugby and the JP Morgan Asset Management Premiership rugby sevens will be shown live on BT Sport.

"As part of this game-changing deal, we want to create unique TV coverage which is the envy of the world and will bring Aviva Premiership rugby to a new audience, while respecting the values and traditions of our current and valued supporters.

"The key thing is that any innovations will be introduced as a partnership between BT Sport, Premiership Rugby and its clubs.

"To ensure that happens, Premiership Rugby and BT Sport are visiting all clubs, exchanging ideas and thoughts.

"We are about to enter into a new, exciting and innovative era for club rugby. This process is part of our new partnership, and BT Sport is keen to hear how our clubs would innovate the TV coverage.

"Our aim is to capture the excitement and drama, giving viewers the best seat in the house.

"From next season, coverage will be exclusively shown on BT Sport and so it's an opportunity to explore new innovative formats. While it is too early to go into any more detail at this stage, BT Sport intends to bring the very best coverage to a world-class game."

Leicester rugby director Richard Cockerill told the Independent on Sunday that he anticipated an open approach from Premiership clubs.

"I think clubs would be open to it," he said. "You have to build the game and build the brand and build support within the game.

"That's what BT is paying for and money will be a dictator, no doubt. If it's not going to affect anything intrinsically within your culture, you can have common sense between the two parties.

"The French interview players as they come off at half-time. You would suggest they pick the right sort of player, live on telly.

"The other stuff, from a Leicester point of view - and we had this discussion with ESPN - is that some things in rugby have to be sacrosanct. Hearing the coaches talk in the changing room or at the training ground - some of that is your IP (intellectual property).

"I would be concerned if it wasn't a two-way street. Building a relationship with the clubs is fine, but not if as soon as a club is playing poorly it's 'the coach should be sacked' or 'that player should be cited'."

London Irish rugby director Brian Smith added: "I am all for innovation and I will wait to see what is proposed.

"There would be an appetite for this from the real rugby devotees. But I am pretty sure the coaches would guard their tactics jealously.

"I wouldn't be keen on sharing our thought process or detailed preparation. It's sport, it's not Big Brother."