With Sky moving into the RaboDirect PRO12 and working overtime to hold on to the Heineken Cup footage, the BBC have stepped up their battle to keep rugby on free-to-air television and that is good news for Scottish rugby’s bank balance.
SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson welcomed the new two-year deal and, in South Africa yesterday, also revealed that the SRU would be bidding to host the Heineken Cup Final in 2014 after France withdrew over a dispute with the Stade de France owners in Paris. The WRU are also eager to take the cup final back there but as they last hosted the match in 2011, and Murrayfield was the venue four years ago, the SRU believe they have a good chance to bring back a final that was said to have generated around £120 million for the Scottish economy.
“We will look at the bidding contract when we receive it today or tomorrow, but we are going to bid for it,” said Dodson. As for the BBC deal, for 2014 and 2016 Test matches, he added: “Our broadcast partnerships are important to Scottish Rugby and I am delighted that the BBC will continue to be on board with us during our autumn tests through until 2016. Their coverage enables us to showcase Scotland international matches at Murrayfield to a wide audience throughout the UK.”
Scotland face South Africa this afternoon in their second match in the Castle Lager Test series with the injury crisis rumbling on. Captain Kelly Brown, Geoff Cross and Pat MacArthur are all ruled out by injury and Stevie Lawrie yesterday failed a fitness test on a back injury suffered in the 27-17 loss to Samoa in Durban last weekend. Tighthead prop Euan Murray is also struggling to shake off a hamstring injury but will be given until this morning to prove his fitness.
Fraser Brown, who has been playing for Heriot’s after being released by Edinburgh two years ago, has topped his delight at being offered a new contract at Glasgow by being drafted on to the bench to face the Springboks. Moray Low is on stand-by for the front row if Murray fails to make it, with Glasgow’s Gordon Reid also primed for a spot among the replacements.
Head coach Scott Johnson, bidding to strike a first-ever win over the Boks for Scotland in South Africa, insisted: “A lot of good will come out of this. We can’t buy this experience. We need to get our academies right, so that we are not short like this and we know where our strengths and weaknesses lie.”