The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Sky Sports have extended their partnership with a new five-year broadcast deal which will also see Sky Sports become a top level RFU partner, with a range of partnership rights for the first time.
The agreement strengthens one of the longest running broadcast partnerships in sport, taking it until the end of the 2019/20 season, and the relationship between the RFU and Sky Sports into its third decade. The deal will help to further raise the profile and interest of rugby union and take the sport to new audiences. It will also continue to enhance the RFU’s ability to invest in all levels of the game.
It is the 25th major rights agreement secured by Sky Sports in 2014 and comes at the start of the biggest ever season of rugby union on Sky, with over 360 matches live from the international, European and domestic game. During November, Sky Sports will show more Autumn Internationals than ever before, including all of England’s QBE fixtures from Twickenham.
The new deal, which begins in July 2015, provides a continued commitment to cover rugby union in England at all levels and comprises:
Exclusively live coverage of England’s autumn QBE Internationals from Twickenham, QBE Internationals before the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and 2019, plus the annual England spring fixture
At least two live England Women’s matches a season, as well as additional England Under 20, Under 18 and England Saxons fixtures
A minimum of 11 live Greene King IPA Championship matches
An in-match clips package, which will enable near live match updates to be delivered across RFU & Sky Sports’ websites and social media channels
Sky Sports is now consolidated as a major RFU partner and will work closely with the governing body to develop opportunities to support and cover grassroots rugby throughout the country.
RFU Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, Sophie Goldschmidt said Sky Sports had an acknowledged reputation as a premier worldwide broadcaster, who always looked to take sport to new levels both editorially and in terms of innovation. “We are looking forward to not only showcasing our England teams in the best possible way, but also to exploring opportunities to support the grassroots, so the whole game benefits further. The RFU is fortunate to have a group of modern, forward-thinking, progressive partners and Sky clearly reflects these attributes as we look to the future.”
“This new deal builds on our already successful partnership with the RFU. It offers our viewers even more live England rugby from the men’s, women’s and age grade game, and includes additional rights to enable us to support the game from the grassroots up to the elite level. At Sky Sports, we share the RFU’s aims to grow the sport before and after next year’s World Cup by investing across the game, and innovating with our coverage to reach new audiences,” added Barney Francis, Sky Sports Managing Director.
The Sky Sports rugby union schedule features over 360 live matches this season including Autumn Internationals from England, Ireland, France and Italy, European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, Top 14, Guinness PRO12, IRB Sevens World Series, and women’s rugby.