THE SRU has backed out of its decision to ban respected freelance video producer Stuart Cameron from filming short highlights packages of Premiership and National League matches for his own online channel as well as local television station ITV Border.
A furious backlash on social media from across Scotland appears to have prompted the change of tact from the governing body this morning, after an exchange of emails yesterday between Cameron and Jamie McMillan (the SRU’s ‘content manager’) left Cameron in no doubt that he was no longer allowed to film local matches as he has done for the previous 12 years.
Cameron has worked with ITV Border for the last six years, and has also previously provided content from National League One matches to the SRU’s own YouTube channel. His high-quality content has regularly been embedded in The Offside Line’s match reports to support our coverage of the club game.
He was left crestfallen when informed on Thursday that he was no longer allowed to film the matches, and after considerable agonising decided to explain the situation to his many supporters via social media –
I feel that I should explain to you why there will be no more club rugby coverage on ITV Border or online from today.
Scottish Rugby, after six years of allowing and encouraging my promotion of Club Rugby and Borders Rugby in particular, have decided to ban me from filming club matches in Scotland.
It is interesting to note the timing of Scottish Rugby’s email to me just as their new Super6 tournament is starting.
I believe putting an end to club rugby coverage is not in the interests of promoting or growing the game.
I totally accept Scottish Rugby wishing to protect the broadcast rights of Super6 (which will be on BBC online and Scottish Rugby’s own YouTube channel) by not allowing filming of that tournament.
There is no interest from any outside broadcast company to cover club rugby though, so to suddenly say I am no longer allowed to film and cover games in Scotland is a concern and I am struggling to see anything positive by making this decision.
ITV have been very supportive of me getting footage into the homes of people in this region to help promote Borders Rugby in particular and grow the game.
Club rugby has been a passion of mine for 50 years. I think anyone who knows me will realise what rugby means to me, so to have the ability to support the game snatched away mid-season without warning, is strange.
Of course I think the decision by Scottish Rugby is the wrong one but they have their own agenda.
I wish Scottish Rugby well as they try to grow the game and encourage youngsters into the sport in their own way.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in the past by helping me do what I loved doing more than anything – covering club rugby matches. It has been a real joy.
Disclaimer: This is a personal statement by me – I am not speaking on behalf of ITV Border.
His statement received widespread support from across the Scottish rugby spectrum.
Hawick RFC President Rory Bannerman told The Offside Line:
We are hugely disappointed that such an enthusiastic rugby promoter as Stuart Cameron has been silenced. His fabulous work in bringing Scottish Rugby to the public’s screens has been a shining beacon in recent years, often a lone outlet for Borders rugby. We are at a complete loss to understand (and have had no communication from HQ) why the SRU could consider that in some way he undermines their aim of widening the appeal of our sport. We sincerely hope that he returns to Premiership and National One grounds very soon, whilst the SRU aim their lenses at Super6 instead.
Berwick RFC president Colin Frame commented on Facebook:.
Thank you Stuart for all your help over the years. Everyone at Berwick Rugby Club wishes you all the very best for the future. I am sure something will come along for you”.
Gala captain Euan Dods wrote:
Stuart, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all borders rugby clubs and players when I thank you for your service to our game. Your coverage over the last 10 or so years has been second to none so don’t let one wrong decision leave a bad taste, embrace all the great memories. Thanks again.
Stuart, I’m a great fan of you and the way you have promoted club rugby and in particular Borders Rugby. In times where rugby at all levels needs all the support it can get I cannot see any logical reason for the action of the SRU. I support some of the SRU’s action but this is one I cannot. Can the Border clubs not unite and put pressure on the SRU to change its decision.
Local rugby supporter Carol Paxton commented:
This is an absolute shocking disgrace SRU should hang their heads in shame. Many people who don’t/can’t get to game’s catch up with your filming on ITV. Let’s hope SRU give themselves a big shake up. Thank you Stuart for all your dedication to us plebs who love the game of local rugby.”
The SRU were clearly stung by the ferocity of the backlash, and after several conversations between Murrayfield and Cameron this morning, the latter posted an update of the situation earlier this afternoon:
I’m humbled by the overwhelming support following my earlier statement. Scottish Rugby have clarified a difference of interpretation of our ongoing conversation, the upshot of which is I’m allowed to cover club rugby.
I genuinely believed the door was shut but I’m pleased Scottish Rugby have engaged with me. I thank Scottish Rugby for this and am happy with the very satisfactory outcome.”
The SRU insisted that it was never their intention to block Cameron out and claimed that an email was ready to be sent this morning to clarify the situation.
The SRU do produce their own highlights package of one Premiership match per weekend which tends to go online on Monday night, however there has been unrest about the quality of the offering, especially during the early weeks of this season, with complaints relating to: the lack commentary and the footage coming from a single camera located either at the back of a stand or at ground level with the view of the action often obscured by the back of supports’ heads and so on.
The video immediately below is an example of Cameron’s highlight package, which is available from around 7pm on the night of the game –
This video is one of the SRU’s highlights packages, which is posted the following Monday –