Rugby Tonight welcomes our readers.
Club Mirror and sister title Club Rugby held our third ‘audience takeover’ of BT Sport’s popular midweek magazine show, Rugby Tonight in April with a huge turnout of teams from all over the country, including Cheltenham RFC, Dagenham RFC, Dartford RFC, Old Emanuel RFC and Winslow RUFC.
There was a suitably ‘end of term’ atmosphere for our third audience takeover of BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight in April with over 160 readers taking part in the penultimate show of the season.
As the readers arrived at the BT Sport studios in Stratford, London, they were invited into the green room to have a few drinks, a bite to eat and enjoy some rugby chat ahead of the live broadcast which was to go on air at its usual time of 8pm.
It was certainly a grand turnout with members of Blackheath RFC, Cheltenham RFC, Dagenham RFC, Dartford RFC, Harlow RFC, the Honorary Artillery Company RFC, Old Emanuel RFC, Sandal RFC, Westcombe Park RFC, Winslow RUFC Uxbridge RFC, as well as a contingent of members of the Wooden Spoon Society, the famous rugby charity. The main focus of that week’s show was on the Aviva Premiership semi-finals – Saracens v Wasps and Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons – so there was plenty to talk about before heading into the studios.
It was certainly a busy night at BT Sport HQ with the UEFA Europa League Final between Atletico Madrid and Marseille also being broadcast on BT Sport with the presentation team based in the next-door studio to Rugby Tonight. With excitement levels rising as broadcast time approached, our audience were given a briefing by the production team and then ushered into the main studio for a rehearsal. Sara Elgan-Easterby was in the hot seat as the main presenter for the night, ably assisted by Austin Healey and Ben Kay, while the studio guest was former South Africa and Saracens second row Alistair Hargreaves who skippered his team to the Aviva Premiership title in the 2014/15 season.
As always, the show’s tone struck a neat balance between detailed analysis of recent events and upcoming games with humorous rugby banter with the magnificently bewhiskered Hargreaves at one point engaging in a ‘beard off’ with several members of the audience to see which of them had the most impressive facial hair. Unsurprisingly, the former Saracens man was declared the winner despite some great challengers in the crowd. He also offered some fascinating insights into the winning culture which has been created at Saracens and reminisced about leading the club to glory at the tailend of his playing career.
There was further chat on the other side of the studio in the ‘Ruck ‘n’ Maul bar with audience members asked for their opinions on the weekend’s matches. As is customary, the programme concluded with Austin Healey running a demonstration move in the studio with the help of two teams. It was another great episode of this must-watch show and we have already agreed further audience takeovers of Rugby Tonight when the domestic season resumes in September.