BT and BSkyB share European rugby

BT and BSkyB have agreed joint deal to show European rugby from next season. The news brings to an end two years of dispute over the future of the Heineken Cup.

The pair have reached a provisional agreement jointly to broadcast the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup competitions.

The move follows an agreement for a new tournament to replace the existing European Cup structure signed by the various rugby union governing bodies in Europe.

The European Rugby Champions Cup will replace the Heineken Cup from the 2014/15 season and will be joined by the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new competition called the Qualifying Competition under an eight-year deal.

The pool matches would be shared equally between the broadcasters, while both would show two quarter-finals each, one semi-final each and the final would be broadcast by both live under a four-year agreement which is subject to contract.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, described the outcome as “a good day for rugby” as the agreement offered clarity for European rugby and enabled the clubs to plan for the future. “With these new competitions, we’re delighted our viewers can look forward to even more top-class European coverage across our platforms.”

Simon Green, director of BT Sport said: “It is fantastic news for rugby fans that we have reached a deal with Sky Sports. The game of rugby had to come first and both companies have recognised that by showing a high degree of maturity and flexibility.”

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