The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has pulled its backing from the Channel 5 rugby magazine show Rugby Express, which has left the sport without a magazine programme on ter- restrial TV this season.
Rugby Express was shown last year and was jointly funded by the RFU, rugby Premier League sponsors Allied Dunbar, the English Professional Rugby Union clubs, and C5.
In a statement, the RFU says that C5’s plan to move the show from its Sunday 6pm slot to 10.40pm would not have made the show a viable commercial proposition.
RFU chief executive Francis Baron says: “The proposals we have been presented with do not provide rugby fans, the clubs or the Union, with value for money from terrestrial television this season.”
Allied Dunbar has also pulled out of the show.
The show has tried unsuccessfully to find a broadcast sponsor. Guinness, which turned the show down, said its involvement in the Rugby World Cup next year fulfilled its rugby sponsorship requirements.
A spokesman for C5 says: “It is unlikely that the show will go ahead this year.”
A source close to the deal adds: “This is indicative of the problems rugby faces off the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are wondering if they should have kept their involvement with the BBC, which gave the show a Sunday lunchtime slot.”
Baron says the RFU will work to resurrect a rugby magazine show on terrestrial TV next season.