Sports Letters: BBC and Neath

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report 'BBC Muzzles Neath Rugby Debate' (1 December) is misleading. Let me put the record straight.

BBC Wales did offer Neath Rugby Club the right to reply in response to comments voiced by BBC Wales' rugby journalist Mr Eddie Butler, in the wake of Neath's recent fixture against the touring Australians.

An invitation was extended to Mr Brian Thomas, Rugby Director, and the club's coach, Mr Leighton Davies, to attend the Rugby Special Wales studios in Cardiff for a debate with Mr Butler to discuss his comments.

The Neath contingent arrived, together with a former Newbridge forward, Mr Stephen Flowers, his parents and an observer.

Mr Thomas insisted that he not only be allowed to discuss the problematic 'bad image' syndrome that he agreed prevails at The Gnoll, but also to resurrect an alleged incident that occurred eight years ago involving Mr Flowers, during a Pontypool v Newbridge fixture and which was obviously unrelated to the Neath v Australia match.

This did not meet our editorial requirement for the programme, and was certainly not the vehicle to pursue a personal matter.

As a result, Mr Thomas declined my original invitation to Neath Rugby Football Club, to discuss their particular complaint on the effect of bad publicity on the club.

Consequently, Neath squandered a chance to present an objective and considered case for their defence.

Yours faithfully,

GARETH DAVIES

Head of Sport, BBC Wales

Cardiff

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