You’d think in the aftermath of a resounding success, a winning rugby coach would be enthusiastically inclined to talk to the world and its mother. Not so. Flash post-match TV interviews within minutes of the final whistle sounding are seemingly even a precarious business with the victor.
So outlines Sonja McLaughlan, the BBC reporter tasked with getting insight shortly after the end of a Guinness Six Nations match. Speaking to the UK Telegraph, she recalled how awkward things were with Warren Gatland when she sought to interview him just after Wales had clinched the 2019 Grand Slam in the Cardiff rain.
It was a resounding success for Gatland in the final Six Nations championship, swatting aside all-comers to clinch the third Grand Slam of his stellar stint in charge of the Welsh before he moved on to become coach of the Super Rugby Chiefs.
Rather than bask in the achievement of his success, Gatland apparently had the hump following a question the reporter has asked him earlier in the week and he initially refused to accommodate the BBC. “I honestly think that doing the post-match is the hardest thing to do,” explained McLaughlan.
“There are emotions swirling around for the players and the coaches, you’re out in the elements. And you have to ask people things that they might not want to be asked about. I asked Warren Gatland about being linked with the England job in the press conference midweek once.
“He was fine at the time and then on the pitch when Wales won the Grand Slam, I was about to interview him and he said, ‘You let yourself down asking that’. I was like: ‘The BBC has delayed the news here so I can interview him, I really better get to talk to you!’ And the producer is in the ear going, ‘Get Gatland! Get Gatland!’ He did talk in the end but it was tense.
“I was trained as a journalist: you ask questions like what, where, who, when, how,” added McLaughlan. “It’s not like those broadcast interviews where the journalist just makes some bland statement and the player waffles back.
“I would say to Alun Wyn Jones: ‘Was there cheating?’ People like me are the last of a breed I think because what TV wants is different now.”
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