Mike Rayner sees this new magazine as a metaphor for change in rugby union

Mike Rayner sees this new magazine as a metaphor for change in rugby


It was always good when Stuart Barnes was selected. You know, he was the

England half-back that could run with the ball - spot the gap, time the

break, go for it.

Skills he drew on, I imagine, when he was planning the launch of Future

Publishing’s rugby magazine, First XV, and a new career as editor.

Let’s face it, the timing is good. Apart from the mass interest

generated by not one but two rugby World Cups this year, it’s clear that

everyone associated with rugby union is going to have to find new ways

of coping with (and reporting on) a game which, if not already

transformed beyond recognition, very soon will be.

And it’s hard not to see First XV as a metaphor for the change in the

sport: a more fan-friendly, slick, well-produced offering all round than

its old-wave counterpart, Rugby World. Did somebody use the word

‘professional’? As if to make the point, it’s also expensive (this

month’s Prize Letter complains that it is the ‘rip-off of the

century...a suicidal three quid’) but the truth is that if you want a

bit of class, you gotta pay for it.

It’s really very good. Excellent interviews (Jonathan Davies: ‘After the

game, I still get bladdered,’ and the dirtiest player in the world, the

All Black, Richard Loe: ‘I never eye-gouged. Sure, I ripped his head

back and what have you, and it didn’t look pretty on TV, but Cooper

could still see afterwards’).

Loads of ‘factfile’ titbits to show off with, good analysis, great

double-page action shots (isn’t that what sports mags are for?) and, to

cap it all, Victor Ubogu in drag. It could have been worse - it could

have been Jeremy Guscott.

Mike Rayner, rugger bugger, is a board account director at BMP DDB