Wednesday 12 December 2018

RTÉ strikes deal to show all of Ireland's Rugby World Cup games

Fans watch Johnny Sexton and the Ireland team in the World Cup on free-to-air TV. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Fans watch Johnny Sexton and the Ireland team in the World Cup on free-to-air TV. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Rugby fans will be able to follow Ireland's World Cup odyssey next autumn on free-to-air television.

RTÉ will broadcast 14 live matches from Rugby World Cup 2019, including all of the games involving Joe Schmidt's team.

RTÉ and Eir Sport have reached a sub-licensing agreement between the two broadcasters in relation to Rugby World Cup 2019.

It is another twist in the rivalry between RTÉ and TV3 which have been battling over rugby coverage in recent seasons.

The national broadcaster was dealt a blow when TV3 landed a deal for the annual Six Nations tournament, which will give it broadcast rights until 2021.

TV3 has also been able to offer coverage of the European Champions Cup this season, the first time this has been free-to-air since 2003.

Eir Sport, a relatively new player, threw down a marker when it secured the rights to the Rugby World Cup, which will be held in Japan next autumn.

But as part of the deal, Eir Sport had to ensure that 13 live games from the Rugby World Cup will be on free-to-air TV.

This almost inevitably meant a sub-licensing agreement with either RTÉ or TV3. And in good news for fans who do not have the premium sports channel, the deal gives RTÉ rights to all of Ireland's games, as well as all of the games from the knockout stages and 16 nightly highlights packages.

Meanwhile, as the primary rights holder, Eir Sport will broadcast all 48 games live, also including all of Ireland's matches, and a daily highlights show.

Ireland will go into the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup after a Grand Slam and a victory over New Zealand on home soil.

Declan McBennett, group head of RTÉ Sport, said: "The Rugby World Cup looks set to be a very exciting tournament and we are delighted to come to this agreement with Eir Sport to ensure that Irish audiences have a free-to-air front-row seat to such significant games including all of Ireland's games."

Irish Independent

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