We will all pay the price for rugby’s bonanza

Virgin Media Sport’s Alan Quinlan and Dave McIntyre with the Six Nations trophy in Rome. Our columnist says pay-per-view broadcasting of the Six Nations is not too far away. Picture: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Like rugby or loathe it, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t a comforting, old-school pleasure in shuffling unthinkingly into your sitting-room at this time of year and pointing the remote control at your TV, all the while secure in the knowledge that the Six Nations is never more than that simple push of a button away.

Like all of life’s joys, we take that one for granted.

Consider the hurdles we have to jump to watch most of our sport these days. With TV rights splintering like the UK’s Tory party, the first job is to decide what it is you want to watch. Then you mull whether you have the time and the money to justify the spend. And all that before the dreaded phone calls, direct debits and installation processes.

There’s something depressing about the fact we now pay for sport in the same way we do electricity and mortgages. That compartmentalisation and commercialisation of the viewing experience has made days like the last round of the Six Nations so exhilarating, especially when it delivers the drama seen in 2015 and 2018 when Ireland clinched a title and a Grand Slam. 

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