Rugby fans on these shores will welcome the news that the Six Nations Championship will remain free to air.
Six Nations games are set to be shown live on Virgin Media and RTÉ, in a new agreement between the two broadcasters. RTÉ lost the rights to the competition in 2017, with Virgin Media taking over the coverage.
In the new deal, games in the Guinness Six Nations and the Women’s and Under-20 Championships will be split between both broadcasters. Virgin Media have not broadcast Under-20 or Women’s Six Nations games before, so they will welcome this development.
Delighted to say that Virgin Media Television and RTÉ have reached agreement in principle to share the Men’s, Women’s and Under 20s Six Nations tournaments. Great news for TV viewers as every game will be available on Free-To-Air television. @SixNationsRugby
— Mick McCaffrey (@mccaffreymick) May 10, 2021
Six Nations to remain free to air in Ireland.
Six Nations Rugby confirmed the news in a statement on their official website.
“Six Nations Rugby today confirmed that it has commenced joint long-form contract discussions with broadcasters Virgin Media Television and RTÉ having agreed a joint proposal in principle.
“It is planned that an agreement will ensure all three Six Nations Championships (Men’s Guinness Six Nations, Women’s Six Nations and Men’s Under 20’s tournaments) enjoy unprecedented coverage in the Republic of Ireland, benefiting from a first partnership of its kind between the two broadcasters.
“Subject to final contractual agreements, it is envisaged that all three Championships will be shared in a balanced way which will see RTÉ again broadcast games from the Men’s Guinness Six Nations, while Virgin Media Television will diversify its coverage to include the Women’s Six Nations and Men’s Under 20’s Championships for the first time,” the statement reads.
IRFU CEO Phillip Browne praised this decision, noting how free to air games should keep up the interest levels in participation.
“Rugby is a participation sport and one that has always, and will always, strive to ensure a balance between finance and exposure. It is a win-win for all involved to have the future of all three Championships move through the contact stages with partners that have a history of showcasing our game.
“How we, and our broadcast partners, present our game is important, not only for the hear-and-now of the viewers sitting down together to watch a particular game, but for those who may be inspired to take up the ball and play in schools and clubs.
“We look forward to working with both Virgin Media and RTÉ on the promotion of our great game across men’s and women’s rugby,” Browne said.
Wales are the current competition holders and ten of their players were selected in the British and Irish Lions squad announced last week, while Ireland had eight players chosen in Warren Gatland’s panel.