European Rugby’s Champions Cup was launched in Dublin yesterday with the promise of a return to free to air television next season.
This is the final year of the current TV rights deals and submissions are understood to have been made by RTÉ, TG4, TV3 and eir Sport to show one match in each round on terrestrial television next year.Champions Cup is the one to win for the continent’s top teams.
The last time a game was seen on free to air TV in Ireland was as far back as 2006.
An English channel will have similar rights, as will be the case in France. All other matches will be exclusively live on BT Sport, available here on the eir Sport package.
All seven PRO14 clubs participating in the Champions Cup – Scarlets, Munster Rugby, Leinster Rugby, Ospreys, Ulster Rugby, Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Rugby – attended the event at the Convention Centre in Dublin yesterday Connacht Rugby represented the PRO14 clubs competing in the Challenge Cup.
“Clubs from what is now the Guinness PRO14 contributed so much to the success of the Champions Cup last season,” said EPCR Chairman Simon Halliday.
“More than one million fans passed through the turnstiles to enjoy the compelling action live, with telling contributions from clubs across the three professional domestic leagues. There is plenty to look forward to from clubs from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales this season, on the way to our finals in Bilbao next May.”
“The format changes we have made to both of our major competitions, including meritocracy for clubs qualifying from the Guinness PRO14, are really exciting developments for the European club game,” added EPCR Director General, Vincent Gaillard.
“It was great to see the high quality of rugby from the clubs last season and expect more of the same outstanding rugby experiences on the road to our landmark Finals weekend in Bilbao, for which ticket sales have started very strongly.”
26,000 of the tickets for the 53,000-capacity San Mamés stadium in Bilbao have already been sold as the Finals Weekend moves out of the traditional rugby nations for the first time.
The revised qualification format for next season’s Champions Cup was also confirmed.
Seven clubs from the PRO14 will qualify for the Champions Cup based on meritocracy. The three highest-ranked clubs from each conference, and the fourth-ranked club with the most match points from both conferences will all be assured of spots in the 2018/19 competition.
The Champions Cup kicks off on Friday, 13 October with the clash of Ulster and Wasps at the Kingspan Stadium live on BT Sport.
Heineken and Turkish Airlines remain the two main partners of the EPCR with Tissot and Gilbert on board as supporters and partners.
All Four of Ireland’s Provinces, as well as Ireland Team Sponsor Vodafone, are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.
Image Credit Inpho Dan Sheridan