CHRIS KIRWAN: Strange starts continue to put viewers first, spectators second
9:56am Thursday 20th February 2014 in Sport
A SIMPLE reminder by text message helps prevent me suffering a costly missed appointment at the dentist. Perhaps it's a service that rugby clubs should provide.
Cardiff Blues take on Leinster at the fan-friendly time of 8.05pm this evening; another RaboDirect Pro12 encounter that is sure to get those turnstiles clicking.
The Pro12 is a league that frequently underwhelms – if only the English clubs had been as keen on more frequent Anglo-Welsh encounters – and it has been five rounds since any games kicked off at the same time (Cardiff Blues versus the Ospreys and Ulster against Zebre at 7.05pm on December 20).
It is, however, far from the only culprit when it comes to infuriating scheduling.
Friday night Six Nations clashes are back, the need to please BT Sport means that the Aviva Premiership is spread out over the weekend while the Heineken, Amlin Challenge and LV= Cups throw up a variety of time slots.
Newport Gwent Dragons will have a 14th different day/kick-off combination out of 24 games when they take on Glasgow at 2.30pm on Sunday.
Such uncertainty is a real hindrance to season ticket sales with punters pondering whether it's worth digging deep for an early-bird offer rather than simply shelling out game by game.
Nobody expects a return to 2.30pm kick-offs week in, week out but a bit of a routine is a good thing as cricket bosses will testify.
This summer there will be a revamped county schedule with NatWest T20 Blast on Fridays and Championship games starting on Sundays.
"I think we just assumed people would turn up. Lifestyles have changed," said Gordon Hollins, ECB managing director of the professional game.
"There is a huge latent demand for county cricket, huge interest throughout the country. Whilst that exists, people just didn't know when matches were being played. So what we've tried to do with this schedule is de-clutter it."
Television bosses will prevent a similar approach to rugby – although BBC Northern Ireland ensure Ulster season ticket holders know it's always Friday night rugby at Ravenhill – and it's those that prefer a fold-down plastic seat to a sofa that suffer.
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