Rugby World Cup scores top marks for press facilities

Twickenham, Cardiff, Newcastle, Exeter, Brighton, the Olympic Stadium… The 2015 Rugby World Cup’s grand tour of some of the finest stadiums in England and Wales has broken tournament attendance records and provided some thrilling sport. SARAH MOCKFORD and HUGH GODWIN provide an end-of-term report from behind the scenes on the media facilities

Sustenance: Top of many journalists’ priority list, was provided in the form of a hot meal and a sandwich at every match, with water, tea and coffee, but no alcohol whatsoever (there is a rumour of a relaxation for Saturday’s final).

The contortions some members of the press had to go through to get wifi signals?
Reporters and photographers at the Rugby World Cup did not need to go through contortions to get wifi signals

Wifi: There was free wifi and hard-wired connections at all the grounds. The fact the same network and password was used across the venues also made that side of things simpler. In New Zealand in 2011, and at the 2012 London Olympics, there were charges for some of these services.

The wifi was generally reliable, although there were problems reported at Twickenham for the semi-finals when extra media seats were put in, increasing demand on the network.

One hard-wire cable between two or three seats was an obvious drawback. On the plus side, there was technology support at every ground to help journalists who had technical issues.

Press box space: The upper-tier press box at the Millennium Stadium was particularly tight, with limited desk space, but that aside the media tribunes were good, with adequate room in the indoor areas and the tribune seats. There had clearly been a lot of preparatory work put into letting us know how and where to pick up tickets and car park passes. If you could read a sign, or an email, you would normally be able to find your way. And if you got stuck without a ticket or a car park pass, the venue media managers were willing to help rather than issue a flat “No”.

Mixed zones: The mixed zone at the Millennium Stadium (sited in the same place as always) was very cramped, particularly with team support staff using it as an exit to take equipment to their coaches.

The one at Twickenham was much bigger and worked much better, with lots of space for written and radio journalists while TV cameras were set up in a separate room.

Media centres: These, at all the grounds, were of an adequate size for the numbers turning up, and although the three-storey building at Twickenham suffered from not enough sound-proofing – witness a losing team’s press conference accompanied by the strains of “Your Sex is On Fire” from the nearby karaoke bar – it was a good and airy working space.

Generally speaking there was an understanding among staff and volunteers of the role we were there to perform. The volunteers – unpaid, but doing the work in return for entry to the matches – were almost without exception friendly and willing to help sort out any problem.

Rugby News Service: The official tournament agency, providing work for many an SJA and RUWC member, provided a good and serviceable supply of quotes and information, although its search facility could have been more streamlined as a lot of irrelevant stories would be among the search results.

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Tue Dec 1: Young sports journalists’ networking drinks – Details to be announced

Thu Dec 17: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery


Mon Feb 22: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards dinner, sponsored by BT Sport