Episodes Reviewed: 01-To Present
Average Episode Length: 55 Minutes
Release Schedule: Weekly
During a trip down the podcast charts, in the UK, even the most un-observant person would notice that a certain organisation pops up repeatedly; the BBC. They’ve got podcasts about everything, Politics, History, Radio shows, Sports & more. BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly is one such podcast from them and straight off the bat, I can tell you that the production on the show is of professional quality. Thank you licence fee payers!
Chris Jones – BBC Sport Reporter, Ugo Monye – Pundit, Former Player (Winger for Harlequins, England and the British & Irish Lions) are the 2 main co-hosts of the show. The dynamic between them is excellent, their differing experiences and perspectives allows for healthy, well-rounded conversations to take place about the issues of the day. Chris casts a critical eye over things as a journalist, while Ugo brings his experience as a former player to the table, giving us an insight into how the players possibly feel about the topics of conversation. Ugos insider knowledge and Chris’ outside perspective complement one another extremely well.
In recent times, Danny Care – the current Harlequins and England Scrum-Half – has joined the show as the third co-host. His appearances are a little more irregular, being a player his contributions are wholly limited by his schedule so he simply isn’t available some weeks, which is a shame; however his contributions to the podcast are no less valuable. Danny adds an awful lot to the show when he is there, improving the already excellent dynamic and flow of the show. Having the perspective of a player who is playing currently adds a layer of understanding onto the show that’s fresh and that you couldn’t achieve without someone who is still playing; especially an experienced player like Danny is.
There is always plenty to look forward to in each episode. As well as dealing with the latest news from World Rugby, match results, team performances, contract chat and latest controversy that week (believe me, there is a controversy most weeks); they have regular interviews with players, coaches and even the occasional referee. Their voice and passion finds a welcoming home on the podcast, their insight proving to be informative and entertaining.
Whether it’s a 2 or 3 man show, the friendship between them feels genuine, the disagreements feel genuine, the poking fun at one another feels genuine, the respect they all have for one another is genuine and their love of the game shines through in every episode; that’s something you can’t manufacture. Their passion is infectious and a joy to listen to.
I’d like to give them credit as well for how they’ve handled the more controversial issues that have arisen. Our trio of hosts have done an excellent job of allowing a respectful discourse, raising questions and discussing different things in a way that hasn’t crossed any lines. They haven’t shirked their responsibility to discuss these difficult topics and they should be commended for their even handed approach to serious controversies.
There’s a lot of England based chat, be it about the Premiership or the National side, as you would expect from an English based podcast, but that doesn’t mean it is all they talk about. They cover all the Home Nations when they play, they keep us updated on the Pro14 and the European competitions. They hardly talk enough about Scotland or its clubs, especially when they are doing well, but then I would say that; being a heavily biased Scot myself. This, though, is the only blot on an otherwise flawless report card.
If you’ve any interest in Rugby Union at all, either as a lifelong fan or a curious casual, I recommend you start listening to this podcast.