The East Terrace - For the rugby football enthusiast

Ireland's Triple Crown 2006 DVD

Triple Crown 2006 DVD
Ireland's Triple Crown
Published by EMI Ireland

Directed by Shay Healy

Talking Heads clog up the action

The art of producing decent match highlights seems to be a dying one. Gone are the days of comprehensive highlights that gave the viewer a chance to get a feeling for the ebb and flow of a game they may not have been able to witness the first time around.

Nowadays, television highlights seem to be exactly that: highlights only. We see only the tries, the conversions, the penalties (but not always all of them) and one or two other bits. After that we are usually treated to a studio panelís analysis of the game that is often two or three times longer than the highlights we were given. From the point of view of television producers the maxim seems to be that it is Ďgood to talkí.

Those with a long memory may remember some of the excellent videos put out in the late 1980s concerning rugby. The Welsh triple crown of 1988 was recorded in the best possible way on VHS: extensive highlights of each game - showing build up to the scores, overall match balance, etc - and there were short comments and interviews before and after the games. Just in case any producers are reading this review, weíll say it again: interviews were used before and after the games. Not during it, not over it, but before and after the games.

Unfortunately, the producers of Irelandís Triple Crown decide to put their interviews of the Irish players and management all over the actual match footage. The action is often reduced to something in the background behind a talking head. At the very least the footage is spoken over by a player or coach. It was a problem that raised its head on Walesí Grand Slam DVD in 2005, but has been taken a step further here.

Itís like the culture of celebrity has invaded sport to such an extent the producers are afraid to let the match tell the story and feel they need to dazzle us with interviews of all the big names from the international scene.

The highlights of the games on this DVD, therefore, often have a hollow feel to them. Many tries scored against the Irish, especially the French game, are not even given an action replay. In fact, some of them are either talked over or edited so brutally we donít even see the build up to the score. They just seem to suddenly happen. We are not given anything like a true perspective of the game; we are just offered the most basic information. It is ironic that in the days of multiple cameras, superb viewing technology and in-depth statistics, we seem farther away than ever from the game itself.

Surely we revisit great sporting occasions so we can relive the moment, not to see another person reliving the moment? In ten, twenty years from now there will no doubt be plenty of nostalgic Irish fans keen to relive that famous day at Twickenham. But will there really be Irish fans in ten, twenty yearís time keen to watch the players talking about the English game with a few bland sound bites? Unlikely.

It is frustrating that now we have DVD technology on offer the viewer is not given the option to pick interviews and comment from the menu screen at their leisure. Instead, we are forced to sit through banal comments during the match action with no choice to skip and just watch the game. Isnít that what DVD commentary tracks and set-up menus are for? Isnít that the point of DVD?

There are, of course, a financial factors against putting together comprehensive highlight DVDs: production companies are being forced to pay extortionate amounts to broadcasters and organisers such as the BBC and the RBS Six Nations committee to have rights to the footage, often paying by the second.

In the long term the fan suffers; not that fans come high up the list of priorities for the RBS Six Nations committee. But ironically the beloved sponsors lose out as well. Surely the longer the highlights on these DVDs the more exposure the pitch side sponsors gets? Isnít this a possible incentive to sell the match footage to DVD companies at a much lower cost? Donít hold your breath on this happening any time soon, though.

The DVD will obviously appeal to the Irish fans amongst us and if you want all to rewatch all the main action from the Irish season this DVD is a must. But next time, can the producers please let the action do the talking?

Thankfully, the bonus DVD containing the full eighty minutes of the England v Ireland clash is free of the dreaded talking heads and is much more enjoyable as a result.

If you would like to win a copy of Ireland's Triple Crown DVD, visit our competition page by following this link.