The last two All Blacks tests, against Ireland and Italy, were played on an American football field and a football (soccer) field respectively. In comparison to games in New Zealand, the televised result was pretty lousy.
Rugby is a complex game to produce. There is a need for long shots during open back play, mid-range shots during set pieces and tight close-ups at tackles and rucks, with flexibility during 1st and 2nd phase play. It is critical for the viewing experience to be right there in the action. It’s hard enough to know what’s been penalised, but when you can’t even see the game, it’s nigh on impossible.
In the Italian game there were way too many long shots (great in football), the director was too slow to get in tight after a tackle, and the number of times that a replay would have been great, but we were treated to a lovely, but irrelevant slow mo was a wee bit frustrating.
Some of this is because of the field and the options for camera locations, but some of it is the taste, competence and experience of the production team.
How much does the coverage of rugby in non-rugby locations, with directors that are not attuned to rugby affect your viewing pleasure? How much does it affect the journalists who write about the games – much harder to praise the work of a #7 in the ruck when you can’t actually see what he is doing? And, more concerning, how much does it affect the coaches, who must rely on live footage to some extent?
Should the Sky Sport rugby production team cover All Blacks test when in neutral locations – they really are very good?