BBC ALBA will be covering more Scottish rugby matches this season, easing concern among some Glasgow and Edinburgh supporters that the draw of Third Division football and Rangers might affect rugby’s new coverage.
BBC ALBA stepped in two years ago to fill the void in coverage of Scottish professional rugby and while the commentaries remain in Gaelic, much of the programme is in English, with half-time interviews and reports with players and backroom staff. The channel covered Rangers’ match with Brechin City on Sunday, sparking fears that its focus might switch now to the Ibrox club.
However, BBC ALBA head of content Allan Esslemont, explained: “Rugby remains very important to us and we will be showing more games, albeit still within the limited budget that we have, this season.
“Our strategy for sport has been quite holistic. We covered Rangers because it was part of a competition we’ve been covering for four years. But we have made a commitment to mainstream sports within Scotland that fall below the commercial radar and there’s a good marriage between BBC ALBA and rugby. I think it worked well for the teams, Scottish rugby and ourselves last season because there was a growth in interest in the game at various levels, helped by the performance of the Scottish teams, of course.
“We do have restricted resources but rugby is important to us, and with the help of a coalition of broadcasters from Ireland, Wales and Italy we are able to provide coverage in Scotland and get reciprocal games from the other countries.”
Friday 31 August: Ulster v Glasgow Warriors, Ravenhill, 7.05pm (BBC NI)
Saturday 1 September: Edinburgh v Munster, Murrayfield, 8pm (BBC ALBA)
Friday 7 September: Cardiff v Edinburgh, Arms Park, 7.05pm (BBC Wales), Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets, Scotstoun, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA)
Friday 14 September: Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors, Liberty Stadium, 7.05pm (BBC Wales); Edinburgh v Zebra, Murrayfield, 7.30pm
Friday 21 September: Glasgow Warriors v Connacht, Scotstoun, 7.35pm, (BBC ALBA)
Saturday 22 September: Leinster v Edinburgh, RDS Showground, 6.15pm (RTE)
Friday 28 September: Newport Gwent Dragons v Edinburgh, Rodney Parade, 7pm; Glasgow Warriors v Zebre, Scotstoun, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA)
Friday 5 October: Edinburgh v Treviso, Murrayfield, 7.30pm
Saturday 6 October: Cardiff v Glasgow Warriors, Arms Park, 6.30pm (S4C)
Friday 26 October: Edinburgh v Scarlets, Murrayfield, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA)
Saturday 27 October: Treviso v Glasgow Warriors, Stadio Monigo, 7.05pm local time (SportItalia).
Friday 2 November: Glasgow Warriors v Dragons, Scotstoun, 7.30pm; Ulster v Edinburgh, Ravenhill, 7.35pm (BBC NI).
Friday 23 November: Edinburgh v Ospreys, Murrayfield, 7.05pm (BBC Wales); Glasgow Warriors v Leinster, Scotstoun, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA).
Saturday 1 December: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 7.45pm (TG4); 30 November/1/2 December: Connacht v Edinburgh, Sportsground, Galway.
Friday 21 December: Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh, Scotstoun, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA)
Saturday 29 December: Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors, Murrayfield, 4.05pm (BBC ALBA)
Friday 4 January: Glasgow Warriors v Benetton Treviso, Scotstoun, 7.30pm; Edinburgh v Leinster, Murrayfield, 7.35pm (BBC ALBA).