Warren Gatland has raised concerns about Netflix’s new 2023 Six Nations documentary. The series promises “an insight into pulsating behind the scenes moments” during the championship but Gatland is uneasy with the lack of editorial control and worried about what might be revealed when emotions run hot.
“I can tell you now that in a rugby environment, when you are talking about creating emotion, the language used isn’t always appropriate,” he warned. “Especially when you’re talking about nations playing each other.”
Gatland has plenty of experience working with film crews, and there were behind-the-scenes documentaries about all four of his British & Irish Lions tours. But the management always had some control over the final cut. The Wales head coach is uncomfortable that there are not similar guarantees from the makers of the Netflix series.
He explained: “In the past when we’ve had the crews that have been involved with Lions and Wales, what’s been really important is their ability to create a relationship with the players and the coaching team, so it’s almost like they become an invisible part of it.
“Then you find yourself just carrying on with your normal routine, because of the trust that you build up with them. So that’s the challenge with Netflix. At the moment my understanding is that we don’t have any editorial rights and that is a little bit of a concern because you want to make sure you are able to protect yourself.”
Gatland has been caught using some pretty ripe language on and off camera over the years. The 2009 Lions documentary, Living With the Pride, included his deathless team talk before the third Test in Johannesburg, On the 2017 tour to New Zealand, he even resolved not to swear during press conferences after he was caught cursing on a live microphone.
“Sometimes you say something that is a little bit out of kilter when you’re trying to get the best out of players, or they’re trying to get the best out of each other,” Gatland said. “Some of the things that get said in the changing room might not be stuff that you actually always believe, but it’s part of getting the best out of your performance. And then afterwards you’re all friends and mates again.
“So there’s a few things that we need to be conscious of, and iron out. The last thing we need is to be bland in the way it comes across but I’m also conscious that we need to protect ourselves, too. That’s pretty important.”
However, Gatland’s Italy counterpart, Kieran Crowley, was more enthusiastic about the series which is being produced by the producers of F1: Drive to Survive. “It’s going to be great for Italian rugby. We’ve got a duty to promote rugby. I think Test match rugby has become boring in a lot of respects, it is all about the win, which it has to be. And rugby in general is going through some challenging times, with head injuries, so I think it is a great initiative to have Netflix on board. We’ve got no problem with it. We embrace it. We’ve just got to keep the lid on some of our boys and make sure they don’t try to be movie stars.”