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Ryle Nugent Talks About The Reason John Giles Was Dropped For Ireland-Scotland Game

Ryle Nugent Talks About The Reason John Giles Was Dropped For Ireland-Scotland Game
By Conor Neville
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John Giles watched the Ireland-Scotland game last month in the Irish Centre in Birmingham. When he was asked beforehand why he wouldn't be watching it from the analysts' booth in the Aviva Stadium, he directed everyone to Ryle Nugent. He's the man who knows why.

In his 738AM podcast, Andrew Mangan of Arseblog interviewed Nugent about his role as Head of RTE Sport and lead rugby commentator. And he asked him about the contentious decision to replace Giles for the Scotland clash.

Nugent began by speaking about the relationship the audience builds up with pundits and broadcasters. If sports fans are used to seeing the same pundits year on year, they build up both a trust in them (though perhaps 'trust' is more associated with news presenters) and a relationship with them. This takes time.

If one day, these pundits move on or retire, one has to replace them with entirely new faces with whom the public have no relationship. This is something, Nugent contends, the public does not like.

Given the inevitability of change and the public's distaste for it, it is better that any changes are introduced gradually. To that end, Nugent has decided to rotate the panel in recent years.

My job is to make sure that we are planned for the future. I also firmly believe that the audience, subconsciously, doesn't like change... All the research would show it's (better to have) gradual rather than absolute change.

If you look at what we've done with our rugby coverage. It was George Hook, Tom McGurk, Brent Pope and Conor O'Shea. And over the last two years, we've introduced Ronan O'Gara, Shane Horgan and Beranrd Jackman. And these guys have become familiar, comfortable. We've mixed and matched George and Conor with Ronan. We've taken George out, we've put Brent in. It's a gradual change, where we've got to the point that Tom and George, after phenomenal service, said goodbye to us at the end of last year's Six Nations. And we'll start again after the Rugby World Cup with Conor and Ronan and Shane. And I think the audience are ready for that.


He reminded people that Giles had not been part of RTE's coverage of the Celtic Park match between Scotland and Ireland last November, a decision which, curiously in light of the furore last month, stoked almost no controversy.

I had very clearly made a decision that we were going to start rotating. What people forget is, John hadn't been on the original Scotland game, the first leg or, and I stand to be corrected on this, the Gibraltar game. Eamon hadn't been on one. And we had brought in people like Didi Hamann and Richie Sadlier.

He did take responsibility for any communication failures that attended the decision.


If you feel you have communicated something and the other person feels that you haven't, then the chances are that you didn't do in properly.

He also enthused about Richie Sadlier's contribution to the station's football coverage over the past couple of years, saying he enjoyed Sadlier's perspective as someone who was forced to retire early and now comes at the game from another angle.

Interestingly, Nugent argued that Irish people are more forthcoming about their opinions than people in other countries...


Listen to the very interesting interview here.

Read more: A Brilliant Paul McGrath Story Which Sums Up The Lovely Generosity Of John Giles

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