Interview with Ian Robertson: Where is our press coverage

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Interview with Ian Robertson: Where is our press coverage

by AlecW on Mon Jan 09, 2006 2:21 pm

Why do LI Get Little Press Coverage? - An Interview
Why is it that London Irish get so little coverage in the media?

Why is it that what little coverage London Irish DOES get is of the “Depleted Bath Lose” or “Wilkinson Just Fails to Win it for Newcastle” variety?

These questions have been the subject of debate and not a little annoyance amongst London Irish supporters for some time now.

Over Christmas, AlecW interviewed BBC Rugby Correspondent Ian Robertson and asked for his thoughts on this and his ideas on how London Irish could best tackle the problem. His response is below, though it must be said that we wondered how Ian was able to talk at all, given the large proportion of his tongue that was in his cheek at the time!

Ian – what should London Irish have been doing in the last few years to generate more positive media coverage?

“Well, spending the last two years hanging around the wrong end of the table wondering if the trapdoor is going to give way beneath you, cannot help much. I put the whole blame for the paucity of press coverage of London Irish on those at the club who have ignored the advice I have given them over the years.

I explained two or three years ago that Irish MUST have eye-catching names, whether they are unfit or not, names who are always there. They should have hired people like Wilkinson, Lomu and Austin Healey. People will flock to see them, week in and week out. They will attract huge press attention – whether or not they actually play. Cardiff stole a real march on Irish by snapping up Lomu and the club should have moved to sign Wilkinson long before now.

If Irish had hired those two on a match-fee only basis two years ago, they would have had the two most high profile players in world rugby and it would have cost them ****-all. Wilkinson has played about four times in two years and would only have cost about £15,000 for the two seasons. Compare that to the press attention! Those two would have been available for press interviews and would have shifted thousands of shirts, souvenirs and other merchandise.

OK, Healey is not necessarily the most popular player in this country, but people would still flock to see whether he was taken out by the opposition or one of his own colleagues. He does play sometimes (quite well) and you can rely on him to say something outrageous or stupid every week – generating headlines, press, radio and TV coverage.

The money made from implementing this plan would have helped pay for the second part of the Robertson Master Plan, which is that London Irish should then have bought Twickenham with the proceeds and offered all Irish passport holders a season ticket at half price. That way the club could have 60,000 crowds every week and would be the most high-profile rugby club in the country.

The next twist would be for Irish to do a mirror image of what Clive Woodward has done. Woodward has taken himself and all his management-speak and ideas from rugby to football. Well my next proposal takes a leaf out of this book and I suggest Irish should hire a man from football as a fitness coach… Paul Gascoigne. He would be free on a daily basis to give quotes on how fit he and the squad are and how “up for it” they are. Instead of “Medical Room Reports”, you could have a fantastic series of “Psychiatrist’s Couch” press releases, generating daily copy to a hungry media.

And what would you do over the next few seasons to make sure Irish have a higher profile?

There are several options. The first is that you must be top four all through the season in order to get the headlines – we press guys are only really interested in the top four and the Heineken Cup. Brian Smith seems to be going for this option. The second is to be in the bottom two after Christmas, when thoughts start to turn to relegation. To be fair to Irish, in the last two seasons, they have had the wit to be bottom all season and JUST scrape through in the last two games. Not a bad press strategy.

London Irish are not as wealthy as clubs like Leicester and so they have got to think out of the box – be more creative. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Scotland’s book: I hate to say it as a proud Scot, but we can’t win at rugby and can’t win at football. But we have thought out of the box ourselves and generated publicity by winning at Women’s Curling, for instance. Scotland have also just won the World title in Elephant Polo in Thailand for the second year in a row and so maybe London Irish could look at other areas where they could excel.

But more seriously, the most viable would be to win the Powergen Cup again or the ECC, because these are the easiest ways in to the Heineken Cup and that is undoubtedly the best way to get a higher profile.

Anyway, that’s my formula – Paddy Lennon is a good friend of mine and he has my number!”


Note: a small donation has been made to the MS Trust (, by way of thanking Ian for his time! This charity is close to his heart. We hope that Ian’s remarks will be taken in the frivolous, post-holiday-hangover spirit in which they were intended!

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by OxonRob on Mon Jan 09, 2006 3:04 pm

Ian has always had a good sense of humour, but this is really excellent.
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by dom_pedro on Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:45 pm

Good stuff Alec. Very good of Mr Robertson to have a chat with you.
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