By Barry Newcombe and Steven Downes
Tony Roche, rugby correspondent at The Sun since 1986, has been told by the newspaper that he is no longer required, with the new rugby season just a fortnight away.
Roche is the third senior journalist to leave Britain’s biggest selling daily tabloid this month, following former deputy sports editor Ted Chadwick and assistant sports editor Keith Nancarrow.
Despite rugby being a rich vein of tabloid-style stories recently, with “Bloodgate” at Harlequins, doping problems at Bath and the 2015 Rugby World Cup coming to England, there’s no immediately obvious replacement at The Sun for Roche.
Roche, aged 60, told sportsjournalists.co.uk: “I was called to an hotel on the North Circular on Wednesday and told that certain jobs on the paper were not selling the paper and that I was no longer required as rugby correspondent, which I have been for 23 years.
“I am now in limbo and wait to see what happens.”
Roche started journalism with Reg Hayter’s agency, then worked for eight years as a freelance mostly for the Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror, subbed at The Times, and was the first and only rugby correspondent of Today before moving to The Sun.
A vociferous and ebullient character, Roche certainly enlivened the rugby circuit as he worked through World Cup competitions, the Five and then Six Nations’ and the growing professional game from 1995.
“It’s all up in the air,” Roche said.
“I came back from the Lions’ tour of South Africa and am having treatment for two blood clots.”
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