Irish women’s team’s historic debut at the Aviva not to be televised live

Contractual obligation ensures coverage of the men’s France v Scotland game instead

Clermont’s French scrum-half Morgan Parra (R) leaves the pitch after receiving a red card during the French Top 14 game against Montpellier. Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty

Clermont’s French scrum-half Morgan Parra (R) leaves the pitch after receiving a red card during the French Top 14 game against Montpellier. Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP/Getty

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 01:00

RTÉ Two are unable to provide live coverage of the Ireland women’s historic first game at the Aviva stadium against Italy on Saturday week. This is due to a contractual obligation with the Six Nations to broadcast every fixture and the France versus Scotland match also kicks-off at 5pm.

The match will be available on RTÉ’s News Now platform.

The IRFU believe any other time would be detrimental to the attendance. Putting Philip Doyle’s women’s side on before Joe Schmidt’s men – who kick-off at 2.30pm – was considered “too early” to entice a decent crowd.

Also, there is a separate charge into the women’s tie – €10 for adults and €5 for children via Lansdowne Lane. This is the same entrance fee for their home games at Ashbourne RFC. Those attending the men’s match can stay on.

“We had to put it on as close to the men’s game as possible, 40 minutes, to allow people already in the stadium to watch it,” said a union spokesman. “The hope is that supporters will remain.”

Final Test
The IRFU will be promoting the fixture alongside International Women’s Day, also March 8th, but the occasion itself hardly needs much building-up as it will be Brian O’Driscoll’s final Test appearance in Dublin.

As part of a deal with clubs and schools “approximately 1,400 supporters will attend the women’s game at the IRFU’s expense”.

As to whether this tie can become a regular event, the union added “a thorough review of the attendance will occur to see if we can repeat it”.

Twickenham stadium granted free entry to supporters for England’s 17-10 victory over Ireland last Saturday evening, also after the men’s game.

The official attendance was reported at 15,000 but the crowd only covered a small portion of one side of the lower stand.

RTÉ Two had average viewing figures of 316,500 (19.57 per cent audience share) for this match, with a peak figure of 375,000, 15 minutes into the contest.

That was assisted by the men’s average figure of 869,800 (60.27 per cent audience share) with the peak viewing of 1,051,920 during the 80th minute as Ireland endeavoured to overturn a three -point deficit. BBC viewing figures in Ireland were 70,000.

The highest average viewing figures for a sporting event on RTÉ in 2013 was 1,064,200 for the All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo.

The national broadcaster may yet be able to provide live coverage of the France women’s match at Stade du Hameau in Pau on Friday March 14th.

Last year the France under-20s game in Athlone was televised live ahead of the women’s game in Ashbourne. However, this season these fixtures come one after the other and if it’s a championship decider, which will be the case if Ireland beat Italy, then RTÉ are likely to broadcast it live.

They are also currently involved in tender processes for the 2015 World Cup in England, the Womens Rugby World Cup next August and the GAA championship.

Meanwhile, veteran French scrumhalf Morgan Parra will learn today whether he can play any role in the remainder of the Six Nations.

Having recovered from injury, Parra has been recalled to Philippe Saint Andre’s squad but a red card for head-butting against Montpellier last weekend had the Clermont Auvergne man before a disciplinary committee yesterday.

An automatic two-week suspension means he would return for the Ireland game in Paris on March 15th. However, Parra was previously red -carded in October for punching. The incident is certainly open to interpretation. Parra took a quick tap and was tackled heavily by former All Black winger Rene Ranger who had not retreated 10 metres. Parra was sent off for retaliation while Ranger was sinbinned.