JOE goes behind the scenes with BT Sport at Harlequins v Leinster 6 years ago

JOE goes behind the scenes with BT Sport at Harlequins v Leinster

We got a look at the madness of a live match broadcast.

JOE's Joe Harrington flew to London on Sunday to go behind the scenes with BT Sport at their live broadcast of Harlequins v Leinster in the European Champions Cup.

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Here's his diary of what went on at the Stoop.

The Stood

We arrived at the stadium at around 12.45pm after digging into a monster fry at a restaurant nearby in Richmond.

That was nice, in case your were wondering, and I tried bubble and squeak for the first time. Not a fan.

We were brought around to entrance one at the Stoop where we met Jasmine who was our point of contact from BT.

The most noticeable thing at the gate was a massive long truck that looked like a few pre-fabs on wheels parked outside. That's where the magic happened.

BT Sport 1

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We made our way into the truck expecting to see screens, lights, button and cables everywhere and that's exactly what we found.

After the amazement of seeing all that technology subsided, we were introduced to the match director Daniel who explained to us a little bit about the scale of the operation.

"We have 18 cameras at the stadium today and each cameraman knows his specific role but they have to be flexible throughout. There are 60+ people working on a game and the day is pretty long, it can go over 12 hours.

BT Sport 2

"There's a sound room, a production room for guys building montages, giving stats to the commentators, updating graphics, cutting replays etc and we are in the director's room.

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"We try to tell the story of the game along with the commentators and we are here to give the rugby fan as much info as possible. Call back later and you'll see us in action."

Dan, who also directs Rugby Tonight on Mondays, revealed that a fully kitted-out truck costs in the region of £4.5 million. We carefully stepped out of the truck at that point.

Next on our agenda was a meeting with the on-air talent.

BT Sport 3

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Jasmine brought us across an empty car park towards a random big red bus where waiting inside were BT Sport's rugby analysts Matt Dawson and David Flatman as well as commentator Nick Mullins.

I sat down in front of Nick who had an A4 page in front of him covered in tiny words written in red, blue and black ink. When I say tiny, I mean I couldn't read them.

I asked him about it and he said it full of facts on all of the players and he writes it all down because that makes it easier to recall all of the information. I should have tried that in college.

It was my first time meeting Matt Dawson and his personality is exactly what I expected. He's laid-back, cheeky, confident and a hell of a talker.

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BT Sport 4

After informing us that his ham with parsley sauce dinner was delicious, he talked to us about the preparation they put in before a game.

"There are detailed emails with stats, information and backgrounds on the teams sent out on the week of the game so that side of the prep is done beforehand.

"Then it's about the rugby knowledge you've built up yourself; how do a certain team play, what habits do certain players have and to know stuff to keep an eye out for."

David, Nick and Matt chatted about the importance of not being too hard on players in their analysis but they also have to call it how they see and sometimes that upsets people.

England v New Zealand - QBE International

Matt told us a story about how he recently upset Chris Ashton.

"I was at the England game recently with Flats (Flatman) and Chris walked up to me and said I was too harsh on him during a game earlier in the season.

"The incident he was talking about was a dangerous air tackle Chris made and I said he should have been sin-binned.

"Chris asked me why I did that and I said "because you should have been and there's a part of you that knows it." Then Chris said, "well, yeah but still" so he knew himself.

"The point is that if you should only make a big call in your analysis if you're prepared to stand over the comments after."

BT Sport Matt Dawson Rob Kearney

Nick Mullins says "the trick to TV is not to be generic" which is why BT try different things like the pitch walk chat between Matt and Rob Kearney above.

Matt emphasised that the key to BT's product being so good is their relationship with players.

"Players are the key to our coverage. People want to hear what players have to say and the insight they offer is priceless.

"We'll never blind-side a guy, when I'm doing a pitch walk I'll give the guy a heads-up about what I'm going to ask before we go live. You build up a trust."

Commentators BT Sport

Nick, David and Matt rushed up to the commentary position so I killed time standing behind the goal where Leinster were warming up to see the drills they were doing.

Gordan D'Arcy's prep was the most impressive as he spent around over 15 minutes just working on his handling and quick passing.

Ian Madigan's kicking looked on point as nailed penalty after penalty. He also nailed a Quins' supporter's pint of Guinness which went down really well, it was actually hilarious.

Kick off was 10 minutes away so I headed back to the truck to see the director Dan and his colleagues pulling the whole thing together live.

BT Sport Live Director

It was a very different Dan to who I met earlier that day. He was in the zone now and as focused as I've seen anyone doing their job.

"Camera 12," "Camera 2," "Cut to Matt O'Connor," "Get a replay of Toner's break," "Caption, where's my caption?" are just a small selection of the phrases coming out of Dan's mouth.

The communication between his team, the production team and the commentators was constant, clear and fast.

I tried to keep up with what he was saying but the link between my brain and my eyes wasn't up connecting quickly enough. Here's a quick video I took in the truck.

A video posted by JOE.ie (@joe.ie) on

I watched the first half from the truck but went back into the stadium for the second half.

The Stoop is a special old-style ground and the atmosphere (if a little manufactured) was electric. Pity about the result for Leinster.

The final whistle blew and we caught up with Sarra Elgan who was getting ready to do the post-match interviews.

BT Sport 5

Everything was wrapped up at the ground by 6.00pm and the truck had left by 7.00pm. They'll do it all over again for the return game at the Aviva next Saturday.

It's a hell of an operation and it was great to see how it's all put together on the day.

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