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Opinion: The Value Of Making Rugby Matches Available For All

There are countless economic arguments to be made in favour of making rugby games available to the largest possible number of people.

Dutch TV station RTL7 having the rights to the autumn tours, for example, is likely to cause another boom of interest in rugby in the Netherlands, where this writer hails from, and will once again get more people playing and watching our great game.

This is much the same as the BBC, which can be watched in most of Europe apart from Scandinavia, having the rights to the Six Nations. A lot of people can watch the matches and become interested.

With more interested viewers, there will be a bigger market and a larger possible turnover for the unions and the clubs.

HIGH WYCOMBE, ENGLAND - MARCH 29: TV Camera filming the match during the Aviva Premiership match between London Wasps and Saracens at Adams Park on March 29, 2014 in High Wycombe, England. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

In Ireland, with the ongoing threat of RTÉ losing the rights to the Irish test matches to a commercial station, this should always be a consideration too.

But there is a much more important reason for making our sport available to everyone. And this is the game itself.

Rugby union, more than many other games, is a social sport. Teams hang out together, watching the game and enjoying their shared passion for it. After matches, we are friends that drink and sing together, but equally a team can bond over watching a match projected on a big screen while having a few pints.

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When introducing new members to a club, this buzzing atmosphere in club houses over a match on the big screen can be the biggest draw to the game of any.

Youth players too gather around these sort of things. A bite to eat, something to drink and a match on the screen is something which helps players to bond. Even leaving the coaching opportunities in that aside, there is that moment of being together and enjoying the greats of our beloved game in mutual respect.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 07: Dirty boots are seen after the Under 19 Club Rugby match between Pakuranga and Waitemata at Waitemata Rugby Grounds on July 7, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

And World Rugby knows this too. With the Sevens World Series there is a live stream, which is blocked by geotagging for those countries where there is a broadcaster, but is open to all others. The reason for this is nothing more than to make this great game available for all and accessible for all. Because then people have that chance to see it and gather for it and enjoy the game together.

There is a massive benefit to making a live stream of the great games available for all who do not have televised test matches in their country at the very least.

But mostly the question of how much money can be made through TV rights has taken over from the question of how we can get more people playing and enjoying our great game.

And it is a great pity this profit motive has taken over so much.

Paul Peerdeman, Pundit Arena

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About Paul Peerdeman

Paul is a professional writer from the Netherlands, currently living in Scandinavia. He's a rugby player and youth coach, triathlete and keen cyclist as well as being a GAA enthusiast for many years.

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