For The Love Of Rugby

NZ Today - - TALKBACK -

Two new things hap­pened to me yes­ter­day. First, I watched a rugby game from start to fin­ish and ac­tu­ally con­cen­trated. Then, and this is di­rectly re­lated to the first thing, with­out which the sec­ond wouldn’t have hap­pened, I wrote a rugby story for the tele­vi­sion news. That’s right, a proper rugby story with tries and con­ver­sions and men be­ing knocked to the ground and the same men roughly grab­bing each other’s crotches. Yes, the full she­bang.

Easy I hear you say? What are you com­plain­ing about? This would be a dream job. Well yes, it would be if one were to say en­joy rugby but for this chick­adee who has du­ti­fully avoided all things rug­ger for nearly half a century, it was a huge ask. I ques­tioned my pro­ducer.

“Are you sure you want me to write you a rugby story”, I said, “I don’t even know how it is scored, I have no idea what the rules are, I don’t know any of the play­ers, I don’t even know who’s play­ing whom”.

Yet, my pleas of ig­no­rance were ig­nored. In­stead I was im­plored to see it as an op­por­tu­nity, a chance for me to ex­tend my bow and be­come more use­ful to the news­room.

All right then; a chal­lenge, I do like a chal­lenge. If there is one thing we Bradleys are good at it is never giv­ing up. That is why we run marathons, even though we are not blis­ter­ingly fast.

So, here I am late at night at the TVNZ stu­dios in Welling­ton. I watch the Cru­saders vs. Eng­land.

I am record­ing the match onto our com­puter server and as the game un­folds I edit the bits where ei­ther team scores onto a video file. Tries and con­ver­sions seem to be the only way they can score, al­though I do be­lieve there are drop kicks, al­though none tonight.

At the end of the game, a mere 40 min­utes be­fore TVNZ’s Tonight goes to air, I make my way to the edit suite, where the tal­ented Luis, our edi­tor ex­traor­di­naire from Venzuela is wait­ing for the high­light of his evening (ahem).

“Luis, could you please get the best shots of the tries and con­ver­sions, while I put the fi­nal touches on my script?” I ask.

“What is a con­ver­sion?” he says. For a mo­ment the world stands still. OMG, he doesn’t know what a con­ver­sion is ei­ther. I had only found out my­self two hours ear­lier.

It is time to call in the big guns. That’s right, Sam the cam­era­man. I hear through the traps that he knows how rugby is scored. Sam kindly sits in the edit suite with me and Luis and we man­age to get the story cut and to air on time. I am qui­etly proud.

I hear noth­ing for sev­eral days (phew, no news is good news in this in­stance, I reckon), un­til a re­turn to the news­room the fol­low­ing week. I in­ter­cept a call from one of the sports pro­duc­ers and he says while my story was ac­cu­rate it was un­usual to show ev­ery con­ver­sion and in fact it would have been un­usual to show even one con­ver­sion. It was also highly ir­reg­u­lar to show when a con­ver­sion was missed! Well go fig­ure. I will know for my next as­sign­ment as Se­ri­ous Tele­vi­sion Jour­nal­ist Sportif.

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