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John Inverdale defends BBC rugby panel over ‘diversity criticism’


‘I can see too, that rugby does still have a perception issue.’

Former BBC rugby broadcaster John Inverdale has defended the TV line-up of Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts and Martin Johnson for France’s game against Scotland in the Six Nations.

Inverdale was speaking to The Telegraph after he stepped down as the BBC’s main rugby broadcaster, and was responding to criticism directed at the punditry team for a lack of diversity.

While the 63-year-old acknowledged that rugby is still often seen as a “white, male, middle-class drinking enclave” he said he was “baffled” at criticism directed at a recent BBC panel of pundits.

John Inverdale on the criticism directed at the BBC rugby panel.

“I absolutely endorse the need for diversity of race and gender but to get criticised for a recent line-up that included two Grand Slam winners [Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts] and a World Cup-winning captain in Martin Johnson for the France-Wales game is bonkers,” Inverdale said.

“Of course there should be a Maggie Alphonsi on our screens but it is also about the context of the moment. I can see too, that rugby does still have a perception issue, that it can be seen as a white, male, middle-class drinking enclave.

“Rugby is not without its issues, but it is a fantastic sport, rooted in its communities, and offers so much.”

The veteran sports broadcaster revealed that he would be moving onto a role with the RFU after his 30 years of service with the BBC came to an end.

While Inverdale will no longer be on our screens, the Englishman will continue to play an important role in rugby as he takes up his new role representing the National Clubs Association on the RFU Council.

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