Pro12 deal with Sky threatens RTE coverage
RTE's coverage of the Pro12 is likely to be threatened by the league's announcement of a four-year deal with Sky Sports that will begin in 2014.
Celtic Rugby have confirmed a the deal with the satellite broadcaster that will see Sky showing 30 live games per season, plus the competition's play-offs and final, which could boost the league's revenue, and consequently the IRFU's coffers, by up to 50pc.
Sky is in the last season of broadcasting Aviva Premiership rugby, with English domestic rugby moving to BT Vision as part of a controversial deal which threatens the future of the Heineken Cup.
Current host broadcasters, including RTE, TG4, BBC NI and BBC Wales, are still negotiating rights options. However, with Sky likely to increase their coverage in future years, the terrestrial channels may have to rethink their commitment to live games.
"Our competition is thriving, with increased numbers going through turnstiles as well as increased TV audiences," said Celtic Rugby chief executive John Feehan. "We believe that this agreement with Sky will allow us to bring our tournament to an even bigger television audience.
The Pro12, which contributed 24 of the 37-man Lions squad announced this week, is expecting a total of 1.2 million spectators this season, an increase of 100,000 from last season, while viewing figures are also up by around 25pc.
Hickie scoops IRUPA hall of fame award
Former Ireland wing Denis Hickie will become the latest recipient of the IRUPA (Irish Rugby Union Players Association) Hall of Fame Award at the players' awards night in the Burlington Hotel on Wednesday.
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Former Leinster star Hickie, who scored 29 tries in 63 caps for his country, said: "I'm honoured to accept this award and delighted to be inducted into the BNY Mellon IRUPA Hall of Fame in the company of some of Ireland's greatest rugby players."
"Rugby gave me a fantastic playing career and this accolade really means a great deal, especially coming from fellow professionals."