Jamie Corrigan: Stick Six Nations schedule where the sun don't shine

They haven't merely messed with kick-off times but with an entire rugby culture

John Inverdale once declared that simultaneously broadcasting the Six Nations matches "would be a return to the dark ages". But here's a quaint thing about the dark ages – they used to play the games when it was light.

Funnily enough, the dark ages didn't feature games being postponed because the sun had gone back in. No, they had this uncanny ability to understand that with the Sun being 5500°C and the moon being 107°C, it was a good idea if men in little shorts ran around when the former was radiating its warmth. The players were happy, the fans were happy, the landlords were happy, there are even reports of Brian Moore being average to middling. But the TV execs weren't happy. So that in effect was that.

They told the bufties in the union blazers they wanted the games at different times. The men in blazers put up a hell of a fight, saying, "go ahead, do what you want, so long as you pay more money". Thus the TV execs wrote a cheque and the games started being shown in succession. Originally they still took place on a Saturday afternoon, but very soon the dolts with the clipboards decided night games were the way forward. And what about games on a Sunday afternoon? And what about games on a Friday night? "Yes, yes, yes," said the bufties. "Feel free. Just write another of those beautiful noughts here..."

They got away with it, for years and years. But then came Saturday. Once again they dared to stage France versus Ireland when the sun don't shine, but this time a whole legion of critics are telling them to stick it where the sun don't shine. Message boards are even talking about boycotts and so forth. I fully subscribe to such rebellion.

Here's what would happen if the Stade de France was full of French people when the game is eventually played (probably at 9pm on a Saturday). The cameras would pan round in an increasingly desperate search for a ruddy-faced gent wearing a Guinness hat or a stunner with a clover on her cheek and a wonderful reality would hit home, one that should never have been ignored.

They would realise their precious little tournament would mean nought without the unique atmosphere raised by those actually inside the stadium. They would realise that without the colour in the stands, the chorus on the wind, the party on the streets, the Six Nations would die on its feet. Surely a boycott would force them to pause before hurling the golden goose up on to the slab and thrusting a cleaver directly into its nether regions?

If only.

If you played a Six Nations international at 2am on a Wednesday on the dark side of the moon then thousands upon thousands of scarf-waving maniacs would still somehow find their way. The authorities know this and have long been in shameless exploitation of the fact. The suits care more about that bottom line than the try-line.

How can they sit up there resplendent in their corporate suites and capitalise on the loyalty that essentially pays their salaries? There is a very straightforward way of looking at this unprecedented move – they are further filling their own coffers while further emptying those of the travelling fan.

Yet it doesn't even end there. Because if you are one of those cold-hearted couch-dwellers who couldn't give a hoot about the rough justice being handed out to the "real" fans, then consider what the late night/Sunday internationals have done to the traditional Six Nations weekend.

They haven't merely messed with kick-off times but with an entire rugby culture. Sure, they will say that night fixtures and Sunday games have been a roaring success in the World Cup and the Heineken Cup. But the Six Nations is neither. It has been around that much longer and is endearingly not just about "the match" or "the result".

When one of the home nation's support descends on Paris, Rome, Cardiff, Dublin or Edinburgh, or even London, they are following in a grand tradition of bonhomie, of celebrating their nationality in the most positive sense imaginable. Friendships have been made and cherished; in the odd case even babies have been made and cherished. "The match" has always been the central part of the trip which bonded it all together. That glue is busily being sacrificed.

Yet the unions justify their actions with their grand tales of the game's "expansion". Well, what about the children, that generation who they pray one day will pick up a ball and run? As these game do not finish until about 10pm in Britain, so many of the young supporters – the ones the unions should be going out of their way to captivate – are tucked up, rather grumpily, in bed when Jonny Sexton kicks the last-gasp penalty. Where is the sense in that? In this enlightened age, there isn't any.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower