Gavin Henson during training at Saracens training ground on October 28, 2010 in St Albans, England.
Gavin Henson during training at Saracens training ground on October 28, 2010 in St Albans, England.

Venter interview goes viral

By Kevin McCallum Time of article published Dec 14, 2010

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Martin Gillingham never saw it coming. Gillingham was the Sky commentator who interviewed Saracens coach Brendan Venter when he gave the bizarre, yet brilliant, and now famous post-match non-interview after his team had been dumped from the Heineken Cup.

Venter, in a 57-second interview that has now become a YouTube sensation, did a stand-up routine based on a comedy movie as Gillingham attempted to ask him how he felt about being beaten 21-24 by Racing Metro on Saturday. Two weeks ago, Venter was fined R250000 by the European Rugby Cup officials for suggesting they had not prepared their referees sufficiently for interpreting the new breakdown laws. This was after his team had lost to Leinster. After the Racing Metro loss on Saturday, he copied a routine he had seen in which the actor, as England coach, answered each question by not answering it.

“I had no idea what was going on,” said Gillingham, speaking from England on Monday. “I’d been down to training at Saracens earlier in the week for research. There was no inclination of what was going to happen. After the game I got a call to run down to do the post-match interview, and I did the interview, and, you know how it goes, at the time you’re listening but it doesn’t sink in because of the adrenaline. I thought it was a bit strange, and when we stopped, I turned around and saw the dropped jaws. Then it sank in.”

Gillingham also saw the face of Edward Griffiths, CEO of Saracens, the former sports editor of the Sunday Times and CEO of Sarfu, and he had a smile on his dial. He guessed then that this had been planned well in advance in reaction to Venter’s fine.

“Saracens are very hopeful and confident that Brendan will not have a disciplinary hearing after this interview,” said Griffiths with a hint of a smile in his voice. “After the fine following the Leinster interview, we are sure we have stayed within the guidelines as required by the European Rugby Cup guidelines.”

Griffiths said it was an “ERC-style interview”, which implies one bereft of controversy or, indeed, anything approaching character. He admitted, quite freely, that the idea had come to Venter when the team were travelling on to Gloucester and had watched the movie Mike Bassett: England Manager on the bus.- The Star

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