TG4 trump RTE for Euro rights
RTE are understood to have suffered a major blow to their rugby coverage after being outbid by TG4 for the exclusive rights to delayed Heineken Cup coverage on a three-year deal from next season.
Four Irish provinces will compete in European club rugby's flagship competition for the first time next season, with Connacht making their debut courtesy of Leinster's dramatic final victory in Cardiff last month.
While Sky Sports have the rights to live transmission of Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup matches, RTE's delayed coverage -- featuring their established panel of pundits who regularly cover Ireland's international games -- has attracted a large terrestrial audience.
However, TG4 are now believed to have won the rights to show extended highlights of Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup matches ahead of RTE on a three-year deal from the start of the 2011/12 season. That will include the 2013 Heineken Cup final at the Aviva Stadium, after Dublin was yesterday confirmed as the venue for its first decider since Toulouse beat Perpignan at the old Lansdowne Road in 2003.
The draw for next season's Heineken Cup pool matches was made earlier this week and fixtures such as Connacht versus Toulouse, Munster taking on this season's beaten finalists Northampton, champions Leinster versus Bath and Ulster against Leicester and Clermont will have a significant draw factor for the Irish language station.
TG4 and RTE shared coverage of Magners League (now the Rabodirect Pro 12 League) matches this season and this latest development represents significant, further expansion of the Irish language station's rugby coverage.