Scottish club rugby is returning to TV screens in a move which Scottish Rugby hopes will herald regular broadcast exposure for the sport at a number of levels. Discussions with BBC ALBA, the newly launched Gaelic digital media service, on an extensive broadcast package are at an advanced stage. However, Scottish Rugby, working in partnership with BBC ALBA and clubs in Scottish Hydro Electric Premier Division 1, have all agreed together that there will be live club rugby on the channel tomorrow. The local derby between reigning champions Boroughmuir and Heriot's will be covered by a full outside broadcast unit from Meggetland (kick-off 3pm).
Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive Gordon McKie said: "We’re delighted at the real enthusiasm from BBC ALBA to work with us to increase the exposure of our game.
“Coverage begins tomorrow with a live transmission of the match between Edinburgh rivals Boroughmuir and Heriot’s and I very much hope we will be able to announce further details shortly of our relationship with BBC ALBA and the benefit it will generate for rugby at a number of levels."
Alasdair Morrison, Chairman of MG ALBA, said: “This is a winner for all rugby fans in Scotland. We are delighted to bring live Scottish rugby to television screens with the Boroughmuir and Heriot’s match and look forward to delivering a brilliant rugby package through the season.
“The screening of live club rugby complements BBC ALBA s 'as live’ coverage on a Saturday evening of an SPL football match and the combination will provide an excellent sports service, which should be extremely attractive to both Gaelic and non-Gaelic viewers.”
Margot McCuaig, Sports Editor of MNE MEDIA, the TV production company producing sports programmes for BBC ALBA, said: “Rugby already has a significant fan base and we are delighted to be in a position to open up this popular game to an even wider audience, whilst continuing to build on our commitment to producing live sport for the people of Scotland.”
Boroughmuir coach Eamon John welcomed the news. He said: “I think it’s good for the club game and hopefully will increase interest.”
Heriot’s captain Tam McVie said: “Anything to try to raise the profile of club rugby is to be commended because there is a huge amount of good rugby to be seen.”
Anna Crampin, Sponsorship Manager of Scottish Hydro Electric, said: “This is great news. Already this season there have been some cracking games and the more people who get the chance to enjoy the action from the Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership, the better.”
Note to editors: The BBC, in partnership with MG ALBA, has launched BBC ALBA, which is available on Sky channel 168 and on Freesat channel 110. BBC ALBA is expected to become available on cable in due course. Subject to review by the BBC Trust, BBC ALBA will become available on Freeview after digital switchover in 2010. More information on BBC ALBA can be had online at www.bbc.co.uk/alba.