Poll: Which is the best UK Rugby Coverage?

Having just been treated to a free weekend of ESPN, we thought we’d find out which channel offers the best rugby coverage, and which commentators are the most popular.

Whilst we know that it’s not comparing like with like as each channels has different broadcast rights for different competitions, let us know which broadcaster you like the most. We’ve also included an ‘Other’ option, so if you’re a particular fan of welsh-speaking S4C or something else, let us know by leaving a comment.

Once you’ve picked the broadcaster, then tell us which commentators/analysis guys are your favourite below – and we want the main commentator and their sidekick separately!

Which channel do you think provides the best rugby coverage?

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Who is your favourite current rugby commentator?

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And who is your favourite co-commentator?

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Cast your votes and feel free to leave a comment below. If there are some interesting results and opinions, we might make mention of them in this week’s Podcast.

24 thoughts on “Poll: Which is the best UK Rugby Coverage?

  1. I voted Eddie Butler for the main commentator but, quite frankly, I consider him a poor option that is the best of a bad bunch. The only saving grace is when he and Brian Moore work together – love the banter between them. But in the main we are lacking a quality ‘voice of rugby’ and have been since Bill McClaren

  2. I think Barnes and Harrison are becoming the most prominent ‘voices of rugby’, and ITV must have thought the same when they hired them for RWC 07. They aren’t real characters like Bill McLaren (or even Brian Moore), but their voices have become part of the rugby viewing experience for me. I’ve grown to quite like it as well.

    Eddie Butler and Brian Moore could be my least favourite option, although it could be because I associate them with turgid England performances against Italy, and is quite amusing how biased it can be.

    Jonathan Davies is funny as well – I remember his commentary as Wales were wasting another overlap against France last year:

    “Give it, give it! Oh for goodness sake.” Nicely impartial.

  3. Despite having the least coverage, I think BBC TV is still the classiest and most atmospheric – and for me, that’s what I want. I Sky+’d their 6 Nations opening titles last year, such were the goosebumps they gave me! (sad I know)

    ESPN are doing alright but not a big fan of Mullins. Agree with Hutch, Miles Harrison has become a voice I’m happy to hear for the big games but I’d always love Jonathan Davies as co-com. He has the best rugby brain and he can be as partisan as he likes cos he still tells it like it is.

  4. None of the above….

    Just listen to the Aussie, NZ commentators during the latest Tri-Nations series. Bias, rude and funny. A dam site more entertaining and patriotic than listening to Miles ‘I so excited but I don’t know what’s happening because I only played at school’ Harrison or Stuart ‘I wouldn’t have done it like that and I’m sour due to Rob Andrew’ Barnes.

    What I want to hear is quotes like ‘Geez, look at the state of Habanna, some run but he’s now hunched over sucking in the big ones’ or ‘Geez these poms couldn’t get it together even if they found themselves in a Sydney brothel naked!!’

    Wake up Sky et all, Will Greenwood’s one of the only English men on-board with a) humour b) attractive punchlines and national pride and c) he’s actually able to comment of what’s happening because he’s been there and done it!

    In conclusion. I don’t care how good the opposition are, all I want to hear is they’re crap and we’re better. If they’ve done something of merit it should be questioned with’ that looked bloody forward!’ or ‘where was the ref looking when that happened!’
    NZ, Aussie and SA commentators have been doing it for years and if anything whilst not entirely true it’s entertaining and a lot more nationalistic!

    PS: Who the F*ck’s Craig Doyle and what is he doing?!

  5. I can’t stand the SH commentators and their constant attacks on the ref. One of the tri-nations games (I forget which but t was an NZ vs Oz one) they went about 25 minutes barely talking about the game but going on and on about the ref – because of one decision.

    I’m not at all a fan of bias – if i shows every now and again fine, it happens to everyone, just try and treat it with some humour – but in the main it is ugly and gets in the way of the enjoyment for both the opposition fans and the neutrals.

    That said I am in agreement about the commentators needing to inject some more observations into it – entertaining ones about how players are looking, analysis of play and options available etc not just “Nick Easter takes it into contact, the forwards clear it”.

    So in short – a half way house between what we have now and the SH efforts would be perfect

  6. I would tend to agree with that Rugby Nick. The SH commentators do get pretty tedious in their one-eyed ranting, and they are particularly harsh about NH refs. There’s no room for unashamed bias in mainstream commentary.

    More observations and analysis is good, rather than just bland descriptions of what’s happening. And I actually think Barnes and Harrison are quite good at that, even if I don’t always agree with Barnes’ views!

  7. Barnes can be the most irritating nearly-man cos of his blatant chip on the shoulder about having been in Andrew’s shadow. Listening to him on Bath can make you sick.

    That said, occasionally, his and Harrison’s banter can raise a titter.

  8. Big fan of Harrison and Barnes, and Sky’s coverage in general. They have the best pundits I reckon, and the BBC the worst. Can’t stand Eddie Butler or Brian Moore and his endless whinging.

  9. I love the Aussie commentators because it is like listening to a group of mates in the pub. They don’t take it too seriously and the joy of watching the game comes through. The SA commentators are boring and the NZ ones are so biased that it’s beyond a joke.

    Looking at the list above brings home what a dearth of decent commentators there are around. Miles Harrison is pretty self-important for someone who knows not far north of bugger all but I agree that him and Barnes have become part of the furniture to an extent and therefore one associates them with many of the big rugby moments and Inlike them for that. The Sky back up commentators and the ITV commentators are, without exception, appalling. I therefore voted for Ian Robertson whose voice oozes drama on the radio.

    Far better than the commentators are the presenters. I like Simon Lazenby and think he works well with the Sky regulars but for me John Inverdale is the man. BBC is my favourite coverage and it is entirely down to him. For that matter he absolutely makes Wimbledon, the 5Live US Masters coverage and frankly he should present absolutely every major sporting event the BBC have (both of them).

  10. I know you are asking for our “best”, and I agree with those above who have voted for Sky + Harrison and Barnes. However I’d like to vote for my “worst”…..Mullins wins it by a mile I’m afraid. Dreadfully pedestrian, always talks about their number of caps, injury record, club record – and rarely about the live action that is actually underway.

    Sorry not to see Mark Robson listed here: he is consistently good.

    The BBC’s coverage is all built around treating the 6Nations as if it were a state occasion, with too much pre-match waffle (no analysis), with over-use of crowd and coach shots, and far too many commentators, studio guests, and hangers-on. Inverdale has become lazy and seems tio think he can just wing it.

    I’m no fan of Murdoch and co, but Sky deserve real praise for their week-in, week-out coverage of the game at club, region and junior levels, and more recently 7’s and the Womens RWC.

  11. I went for the Sky team of Harrison and Barnes – as per some of the comments, mainly because they have the best coverage so get to call the big games. Barnes is belligerent, but he does have some very good points though.

    I cannot stand the Butler & Moore combo. For me, a commentator needs to do the basics right first: call the game correctly. Not only do they consistently miss obvious points of play, but I lose count of the number of times per game they say the wrong player’s name. Infuriating.

    Some bias can be funny from a commentator – hence Brian Moore is sometimes amusing when we’re playing the french, and the southern hemisphere’s commentators can be a laugh (except for the SA guy who speaks slower and in more of a monotone than stephen hawking’s computer) – but on the whole all you need is a good voice and good analysis.

  12. Re: co-commentators

    For me, Greenwood and Barnsey have the best blend of humor and hardcore rugby wisdom, but Barnsey just nicks it for me (has a slightly better appreciation of what Greenwood refers to as the “dark art” of forward play). He tends to see things live that I don’t see until the replay.

    Jonathan Davies, really? No personality or charisma. As Deej says above – typical BBC over-formality. Lighten up a bit guys, and give Dawson more exposure – he could be a good match for the Sky guys.

  13. Greenwood is the only one in that bunch who deserves any praise! he tells it like it is with humour and is arguably the only one who has the pedigree to criticise players (on the international stage anyway).

    Barnes is the most annoying man on tv and I can’t stand him! Massive chip on his shoulder and a pain to listen to.

    One good solution is to turn off the sound on your tv and have radio five live on instead much better!

  14. Barnes and Miles classic commentary England V NEwzeland a few years back

    Miles: Douggie howlett……..hes a sprinter…….Robinson wont get him…….
    Barnes: how he loves to score tries………If theres a better finisher in world rugby miles, hes hiding somewhere in the amazon


  15. Jonathan Davies? No charisma?! He came out with one my favourite comedy line ever…

    (after a particularly bad knock-on) “He’s got hands like a digital clock he has”

  16. I can’t belive how poor the coverage of the European cup is!! It is the best competion in the world yet I have had to sit through some shit pop music and half an hour of rubbish highlights.. Sky sports you should be ashamed, bring back 2 hours of rugby pls

    1. I agree, the highlights programme was average – BUT, Sky do have live coverage of pretty much every game over the weekend, so you can’t really complain! Who needs highlights when you’ve watched 15 hours of live rugby in a weekend??

  17. I do agree hutch, but with work, children and a wife, 15 hours of rugby is a bit much to ask, I can’t even v+ the games that require the red button so a decent highlights programme would help!!

  18. TV coverage – I would like to suggest to all stations covering rugby that their commentators are locked in a room and have to commentate using the live coverage.
    I would bet my mortgage that the mix of pictures we receive would change dramatically.
    Numerous close ups, constant angle changes, and the perceived need to use every camera available mean that at times the director, and thus the viewers, cannot see the ball or how the players are lining up or how the play is developing!!
    If the commentators had to comment using the live coverage they would be unable to follow the game just like the rest of us!!!

  19. ESPN have the worst rugby commentators to have ever lived, they’re biased idiots. If anyone watched the France-Australia game. They said it was yet again proof that France had nothing to offer. the side who have beaten NZ on their home turf as well as in Wales, the team that won last years 6 nations with a Grand Slam. Ben Kay must have been smashed a few too many times while on the rugby pitch because he clearly has no brain cells left. Can someone teach them a thing or two about good commentating, maybe the BBC.

  20. Yes, ESPN clearly have to warm to their task before being seen as being a serious rugby broadcaster.
    The guy that does their highlights voiceover is frighteningly poor and doesn’t seem to know much about rugby in general.

    BTW, although I do enjoy Miles Harrison’s commentary, you can’t beat Ian Robertson who, whilst not quite a new Bill McLaren, is at least a worthy spiritual successor.

  21. I cannot understand why, when we have excellent reception from the referee’s microphone, that we have to listen to the inane chatter of ‘commentators’ when we can see what is happening on the screen, but cannot hear the referee.

  22. I would like the sky commentators to review their coverage of the Gloucester match, as far as the commentators are concerned Saracens could walk on water. All we ask is for some fairness …..
    Sue nice

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