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Rugby needs ‘to open its doors’ like Formula One to appeal to a wider audience, insists Beno Obano

Rugby needs ‘to open its doors’ like Formula One to appeal to a wider audience, insists Beno Obano – with England prop hoping launch of new behind-the-scenes documentary on Premiership holders Harlequins can be a step towards that

  • Beno Obano is trying to raise rugby union’s profile with his new documentary 
  • Prep to Win – Harlequins will be released on Amazon Prime on Thursday and provides behind-the-scenes footage and insight on the Premiership champions
  • England stars Marcus Smith and Anthony Watson among the premiere attendees

Bath and England prop Beno Obano believes rugby needs to ‘open the door’ in a bid to increase interest in the game, after launching a documentary series at a premiere in London on Tuesday night.

Prep to Win – Harlequins will be released on Amazon Prime on Thursday and provides the sort of behind-the-scenes footage and insight which other sports have used to raise awareness. Obano was the director and interviewer, having previously drawn attention to race and class issues within rugby in his debut film, ‘Everybody’s Game‘, released in 2020.

The premiere in Brixton was attended by several leading players including England fly-half Marcus Smith, No 8 Alex Dombrandt, wing Anthony Watson, centre Jonathan Joseph and prop Will Stuart. Despite his own growing profile, Smith admitted that rugby needs to promote itself better, and Obano addressed that topical subject before the screening of episode one of his mini-series.

Obano at Tuesday's film premiere

Beno Obano hopes his upcoming documentary will push rugby into a greater spotlight

Prep to Win - Harlequins provided behind-the-scenes footage on the Premiership champions

Prep to Win – Harlequins provided behind-the-scenes footage on the Premiership champions

‘In rugby, it can be difficult to do these sort of things; for people to open up doors,’ he said. ‘We need to open up more as a sport.

‘It was just a matter of time before someone wanted to do something like this so we floated the idea out there. Some clubs came back to us and were really interested initially, but it just wasn’t possible. Harlequins were probably the keenest and obviously they are champions so it worked well.’

Obano suggested that his motivation was to showcase the characters and daily routines within rugby, to try to enhance its appeal. ‘It was about putting what is already there on screen and hopefully, as a result of that, people will understand rugby a little bit better,’ he said. 

‘If we can take the spectacle that’s already there and make it more personal about the players on the pitch, then we’ll have a great product, because people will be more invested in it.’

England fly-half Marcus Smith attended Tuesday's premiere with his girlfriend Beth Dolling

As did fellow England star Anthony Watson

England’s Marcus Smith (2nd left, with girlfriend Beth Dolling) and Anthony Watson attended

Behind-the-scenes sports documentaries have become a popular, familiar genre, but Obano suggested that not all of them are especially true-to-life. He wanted his depiction of the set-up at Quins to be as realistic as possible.

‘I watched the All or Nothing documentary on the All Blacks and I didn’t really love that one,’ he said. ‘I don’t know if maybe when footballers watch All or Nothing on Man City or Tottenham, they think, “That’s not really what it’s like” – or NFL players watch it about their sport and also think, “That’s not really what it’s like”.

‘When I did this one, I wanted rugby players to watch it and be like, “Yeah, that’s it – that’s what it’s like”. So if you ask is all about showing the game to people outside, it’s not really. It’s so people in the game can see it and say, “Yeah, that’s what it’s like and we want to support that”.

‘You see it now with Drive to Survive, that some of the drivers complain that some of the footage being put out isn’t accurate. I wanted to avoid that.’

Formula One has an increased wider-audience interest thanks to the Drive to Survive series

Formula One has an increased wider-audience interest thanks to the Drive to Survive series

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