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When winning is everything..

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Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 17:25 UK time, Friday, 16 February 2007

When it comes to marketing I'm afraid I've always fallen in with my namesake Bill Hicks, the American comedian, who used to ask his audience enthusiastically "Anyone here work in marketing?"

When the shouts of "Yeah" would go up from the comedy venues of the world, Bill would add dryly: "Kill yourself".

A bit cruel maybe, but if you've spent any part of your adult life sticking post-it notes to flip charts you know exactly what we are talking about.

Imagine my surprise today then to be writing in praise of the BBC Sport marketing team.

When our current Six Nations TV trail campaign was being conceived I did have 'input' and there was lots of 'brainstorming' but ultimately someone else came up with the strapline "When winning is everything, anything can happen".

And last Sunday sat in a TV scanner in the bowels of Croke Park stadium I thought that line could not have been more apposite as France winger Vincent Clerc went under the posts to snatch victory from Ireland in the last seconds of a thrilling contest.

On a day packed with noise and emotion for all Ireland, as the gates of the GAA's wonderful stadium were opened to rugby for the first time, it had seemed early on that because "winning was everything" to the Irish team and their supporters there was going to be a terrible anti-climax.

The French, sniffing that their rivals were tense and inhibited by expectation, stormed into them through the first quarter.

Ireland were lucky to be in touch at 3-13 and memories went back to last year's first-half drubbing in Paris when they went in 29-3 down.

Yet to their great credit the Irish regrouped and without ever finding total fluency, gnawed away at that French lead. When Ronan O'Gara added his fourth penalty to stretch a fragile Irish advantage to four points, a whole nation it seemed heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Neither a penalty, nor a drop-goal could deny them now...

But, of course, the true cruel beauty of sport dictates that "anything can happen". One well-contested restart, two phases of slick movement and Clerc was swerving round the unfortunate prop John Hayes to dive under the posts.

A great finale for the neutral, a huge victory for Bernard Laporte's men and when the dust settled on a historic day for Ireland, the cold realisation that a long-awaited Grand Slam was off the agenda for another year.

**A number of callers and contributors over the past two weeks have complained about bias from our commentary or pundit team.

In answering that I have to say first that the Six Nations is a unique annual event.

The passions raised across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (in alphabetical order!) provide a huge challenge to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

All our people have that passion but are always aware of the need to balance their views and be true to what they see with their own eyes.

A famous racehorse trainer once told me there are THREE sides to every story - "your side, his side and the truth". We will continue to try and reflect all points on that tricky little triangle.

**I noticed a couple of people said they didn't like the football scores being shown on screen during the first weekend's Six Nations games.

This has long been a hot potato and obviously we can't satisfy everyone.

But we believe that on a Saturday afternoon many viewers would rather be kept aware of key football news than not - particularly the many people watching in pubs/clubs where they can't get that information from elsewhere.

Also we believe it stops our viewers feeling the need to flick channels to get such details - I noticed they've started doing a similar thing on Channel 4's horse racing coverage.

Sorry if you don't like it, but many people tell us they appreciate the service.

**A week off from the RBS 6 Nations this weekend but there's still plenty of rugby union to catch up with on BBC TV in among the three live FA Cup games.

On Sunday from 3.00pm on BBC2 you can catch up with the fourth leg of the IRB World Sevens from San Diego and in our latest Guinness Premiership highlights slot Andrew Cotter and Joe Lydon are at Sixways for the vital top-bottom clash between Worcester and Leicester.

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