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Virgin, RTÉ, and Six Nations Rugby agree joint proposal in principle for "free-to-air" coverage
10 May 2021 : Nathan Griffin
The Irish Rugby Team.
Six Nations Rugby has confirmed that it has agreed a joint proposal in principle with Virgin Media Television and RTÉ, and has commenced joint long form contract discussions with the Irish broadcasters.

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.

“This agreement represents a win for the Irish public as two broadcasters come together to deliver the Six Nations Tournaments Free-to-Air, to the widest possible audience in Ireland,” said RTÉ Director General, Dee Forbes. “As competition increases from global players in the sports rights market, we are delighted to work locally with Virgin Media Television, with the aim of serving Irish audiences with fantastic Six Nations action.”

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.

Commenting on the agreement, Mick McCaffrey, Head of News and Sport at Virgin Media Television said: “Virgin Media Television are very excited about this historic agreement which guarantees that the Six Nations Men’s, Women’s and Under 20s competitions will continue to be available to Irish rugby fans on Free-to-Air Television. 

McCaffrey added that the “rapidly evolving sports landscape” has meant that it is no longer a given that world class sporting action remains on Free-to-Air television. “This innovative collaboration is a really positive outcome for Irish Rugby fans, for Irish broadcasting and for the continued growth and development of Rugby across Ireland,” McCaffrey said.

Joining Morel in welcoming the news, Philip Browne, IRFU CEO, said, “Rugby is a participation sport and one that has always, and will always, strive to ensure a balance between finance and exposure.  

IRFU CEO Philip Browne described the news as “a win-win for all involved” and stressed the importance of keeping the games free to air “not only for the here-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”. 

No further comment is now expected to be made from any of the parties until such time as the contract terms have been concluded.

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