eir Sport and RTÉ have agreed a deal whereby all of Ireland’s matches and all of the knock out games at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan will be shown live and free to air on the national broadcaster.
It was not a given that the tournament would be visible to this extent as eir won the rights as the primary broadcaster back in 2016 and were considering creating their own free to air channel to show the games they are obliged to under legislation covering matches deemed to be ‘protected’ as of sufficient national interest.
A similar sublicense agreement was reached for last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup.
With eir Sport showing all of the Guinness PRO14 matches live, as well as BT Sport’s games in the Heineken Champions Cup that was a serious possibility but now there will be a sense of things being back to the way they were with RTÉ becoming the home once again of the big Autumn games just as it has been for the past two weeks and again against the USA this Saturday.
As the primary rights holder eir sport will broadcast all 48 games live, including all of Ireland’s matches, and a daily highlights show.
RTÉ have now secured the rights to broadcast 14 live matches. This will include all of Ireland’s games, all knockout stages and the final on November 2nd, as well as 16 nights of highlights.
All of them will be broadcast free-to-air on RTÉ2 and also on RTÉ Player live and on-demand within Ireland, beginning with Ireland v Scotland.
It also raises the potential of a return to the microphone for Ryle Nugent who was at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night commentating the game for Channel 4 in the UK. They have the rights to Ireland’s November Series until 2022 as well as the UK free to air games in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Hugh Cahill did a great job and seems to have secured the role as the main commentator but if there was a need for another… Nugent has gone back to being a freelance commentator and ITV have the rights to the Rugby World Cup. While Channel 4 might have an issue with him calling games for them, there would be no issues of conflict on a return to the audio of Irish viewers. Who knows?
“There has never been such an exciting time in Irish rugby and, following the recent win against the All Blacks, we’re heading to Japan with a real chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy,” said Susan Brady, Managing Director of eir Sport.
“eir sport will be there every step of the way with all 48 games live including every Ireland game and the knock out stages.”
“We are delighted to have come to this agreement with RTÉ which again shows the changing nature of the sports broadcasting landscape in Ireland where we’re happy to work together to give Irish sports fans the best possible choice and content.”
“The Rugby World Cup looks set to be a very exciting tournament next autumn 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,” added RTÉ Head of Sport Declan McBennett.
Image Credit: Rugby World Cup 2019