BT Sport is launching Rugby Stories, a new strand of documentaries produced by BT Sport Films, which focuses on each of the thirteen clubs in the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership.
Each club will have a dedicated episode which typically airs on BT Sport on Friday evenings at 10pm directly following a live match from the Gallagher Premiership or Heineken Champions Cup on BT Sport. Rugby Stories will highlight and bring to life a story from every club in the Gallagher Premiership, such as how clubs including Saracens and Leicester won a famous domestic or European title, or, overcoming adversity such as the threat of relegation in the case of Worcester Warriors.
Rugby Stories will spotlight English club rugby history, featuring a signature format with current and former players speaking direct to the viewer.
The first episode, called The Sting, airs on Friday 4 March at 10pm on BT Sport 1 and will feature the story of Wasps famously winning The Heineken Cup in 2004, with a try following an innocuous looking grubber kick towards the Toulouse try line by Wasps scrum half Rob Howley.
The series continues with The Obsession, on Friday 11 March at 10pm on BT Sport 1 focusing on Leicester Tigers’ start to the new millennium when they won their first Heineken Cup, with the episode featuring contributions from the likes of Austin Healey, Ben Kay and Tim Stimpson.
Rugby Stories complements BT Sport’s coverage of the club rugby with customers able to watch games from the Gallagher Premiership, Premiership Rugby Cup and both of rugby union’s European club competitions. In addition, btsport.com carries the latest news, interviews and action from the competitions.
Sally Brown, executive producer, BT Sport Films, said: “We are proud of our position as the home of English and European club rugby, and Rugby Stories will take this to a new level. Rugby fans will re-live some of the game’s most iconic stories with a fresh approach that spotlights tales from the training ground, the changing rooms and inside the scrums.”
The full list of Rugby Stories to be broadcast this season include (full transmission details of certain episodes will be confirmed in due course):
Wasps “The Sting” Friday 4 March 10pm, BT Sport 1)
In 2002/3 the London club claimed the Zurich Premiership and was also victorious in the European Challenge Cup, but 12 months later they would claim the league again and go one better with victory in the The Heineken Cup. With just seconds to go the game was tied at 20-20, but then Wasps scrum half Rob Howley tried an innocuous looking grubber kick towards the Toulouse try line and the rest is history. Contributors include Lawrence Dallaglio, Tom Voyce and Rob Howley.
Leicester “The Obsession” Friday 11 March 10pm, BT Sport 1
Focusing on Leicester Tigers’ start to the new millennium when they won their first Heineken Cup, with the episode featuring contributions from the likes of Austin Healey, Ben Kay and Tim Stimpson. The episode looks back at Leicester’s domination over their Premiership rivals in this period. With tales of some of the first great European away days, playing in hostile environments with the players fondly reliving the brutal memories of the past. Contributors include Austin Healey, Ben Kay and Tim Stimpson.
Harlequins “Hell and Back” Friday 18 March 10pm, BT Sport 2
The first two decades of the new Millennium saw the fall then dramatic rise of Harlequins. Despite being one the biggest, oldest and most popular clubs in English rugby, they had never won the top division title and were even relegated in the 2004/05 season. However, this was a springboard to success and set the foundation for the team that battled through the most challenging times and won the Premiership title six years later in 2012. Contributors include Ugo Monye, Tom Williams and Conor O’Shea.
Exeter Chiefs “Devon Double” Friday 25 March 10pm, BT Sport 2
Exeter Chiefs’ rise to the top has been monumental. The club climbed the divisions in the late 90s but struggled for promotion into the top flight until 2010. But, just ten years after joining the Premiership, the ‘Exeter Project’ finally delivered under the guidance of coach Rob Baxter. The Chiefs managed a domestic-European double in 2019/20. Contributors include Rob Baxter, Jack Nowell and Joe Simmonds.
Bristol Bears “European Perfection” Friday 1 April 10pm, BT Sport 1
While now an established Premiership powerhouse, but in the past moved between The Premiership and Division One. However, in 2019/20, during Lockdown, and just days after losing the Premiership semifinal to Wasps, Bristol claimed their First European Trophy –The European Challenge Cup, beating Toulon 32-19. Contributors include Pat Lam, Callum Sheedy and Dave Attwood
Saracens “The Rise” Friday 8 April
When rugby turned professional in 1995, Saracens had just been promoted as champions of the second tier. Following key signings and relocations, domestic cup success came in the late 90s. After that, however, spent the next ten or so years meandering until winning the Premiership title in 2011. Following the move back to North London, they added another in 2015, But in 2015/16, Saracens reached new heights to be crowned ‘Kings of Europe’, beating Racing 92 in Lyon. Contributors include Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Will Fraser and Nigel Wray
Bath “The First Emperors” Friday 15 April 10.15pm, BT Sport 1
The introduction of Professionalism in Rugby Union initially hit Bath Rugby Club hard. They lost their coach Jack Rowell to England in 1995 and with regular changes to playing and coaching staff they struggled to maintain consistency until the 1997/8 European (Heineken) Cup. In the final they would travel to Bordeaux to face Brive with a back line full of internationals, and an end to a game unlike any other. Contributors include Andy Nicol, Jon Callard and Richard Webster.
Gloucester “The Challenge” Friday 22 April 10pm, BT Sport 1
Gloucester is a hot bed of Rugby – but the cherry and whites have often been overshadowed by their West Country neighbours of Bristol and Bath. Gloucester have never won the Premiership or it’s predecessor the Courage League Division One. European glory has always proved elusive. That was until the 2005/6 season as Gloucester claimed their first European Trophy with a 36-34 win over London Irish at The Stoop. Contributors include Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and James Forrester.
London Irish “Doctor’s Orders” Friday 29 April 10pm, BT Sport 1
Despite being one of the most venerable names in English club Rugby, the trophy cupboard at London Irish has been somewhat bare. But all that changed with a team led by Brendan Venter on a sunny day in April 2002. The 2001/2 Powergen Cup Final was on paper a simple equation. Northampton – complete with England internationals like Dawson, Grayson, Cohen and Thompson – would overpower the Irish and pick up the trophy. The Irish had other ideas. Contributors include Barry Everitt, Paul Sackey and Chris Sheasby.
Northampton Saints “Have Faith” Friday 6 May
Their neighbours and rivals Leicester had eclipsed them continually. But The Tigers had never won the European (Heineken) Cup. So when Saints got to the final of the 1999/00 European (Heineken) Cup it was a chance to make history. The final would come down to a shootout between the kicking boots of the fly halves – Paul Grayson for Saints, Ronan O’Gara for Munster, with the Englishman prevailing. Contributors include Paul Grayson, Matt Allen and Mattie Stewart.
Sale “Power Shift” Friday 13 May
In 2006 Sale Sharks became the first team to top the Premiership table and then claim victory in the end of season Play Off Final – beating Leicester 45-20. The victory meant Sale winger Jason Robinson became the first player to win a ‘Grand Final’ in both Rugby League and Union. Contributors include Jason Robinson, Charlie Hodgson and Dean Schofield.
Worcester Warriors “Survival” Friday 20 May
In 2003/4 Worcester won the National Championship with a perfect record of 26 out of 26. After three successive years of the heartbreak of finishing second, their reward was a place in the Top Tier of English Club Rugby for 2004/5. They were the favourites to go straight back down. Wins against the likes of Harlequins, Leeds and Wasps bode well for the season, but a dip in form resulted in a ‘winner takes all’ final day show down with relegation rivals Northampton which they won. Contributors include Pat Sanderson, Tony Windo and Matt Powell.
Newcastle Falcons “A New Dawn” Friday 27 May
Newcastle Falcons were previously known as Newcastle Gosforth and under that guise they had mainly occupied the second tier of English Rugby, but professionalism changed all that. The Falcons, bankrolled by local businessman and owner of Newcastle F.C Sir John Hall, became arguably the first professional rugby union club in the world. This team created history to become English Premiership Champions in 1997/8. Contributors include Rob Andrew, Dean Ryan and Tony Underwood.
BT Sport Films has been behind other productions on the platform, including Shoulder to Shoulder, which captures the remarkable history of the Irish national rugby union team,
Make It Or Die trying: The Frank Warren Story, Standing Firm: Football’s Windrush Story and Two Tribes: how, against a backdrop of social unrest in the 1980s, the city of Liverpool’s two football teams rose to bring fresh hope and a new identity to Merseyside.
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