This afternoon saw a heated online debate between award-winning journalist Ewan MacKenna and RTÉ Head of Sport Ryle Nugent.
Brazil-based MacKenna took to Twitter to point out the disproportionate prominence of rugby in the national broadcaster’s schedule with men’s, women’s, and under-20’s 6 Nations being shown last weekend on RTÉ2.
This, and MacKenna’s subsequent debating, saw Nugent enter the fray to defend the decisions made by RTÉ.
When the issue of the lack of coverage for boxing was raised, Nugent pointed out that, last year, the European Olympic Qualifiers in Samsun, where Davey Oliver Joyce and Brendan Irvine achieved Rio qualification, and the Women’s World Championships in Astana, where Kelly Harrington and Katie Taylor medalled – were both shown.
However, Nugent would extinguish hopes that RTÉ may make a return to pro boxing by claiming that it is “outrageously expensive and beyond our reach.”
— Ryle Nugent (@RyleNugentRTE) February 9, 2017
RTÉ, famously, aired Bernard Dunne’s rise to prominence in the 2000s, and the Brian Peters-led revolution would also feature the likes of John Duddy, Matthew Macklin, and Andy Lee. The star-making powers of terrestrial television during this time were plain to see.
The Montrose-based broadcaster however would stop it’s live coverage of pro boxing following Peters’ departure from the Irish scene.
RTÉ have also ceased their coverage of the National Senior Elite Championships in recent years.
Last year, during the Olympics especially, the coverage of boxing by RTÉ was widely praised, with panelists Harrington, Michael Carruth, Mick Dowling, Dunne, and Eric Donovan especially being commended for their work.
In addition, Hugh Cahill’s nightly Game On programme on RTÉ 2FM frequently features boxers – more so than any other general sports radio show or podcast.
However, it is disappointing to see Nugent’s claim tonight, especially considering the success of Irish boxers, both amateur and pro, in recent years as well as the exciting-looking alignment of talent that seems to suggest that the sport is about to enter a golden period.