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.
Welcoming the news, Ben Morel, Chief Executive of Six Nations Rugby said, “I am delighted that we have agreed the principles of a unique three-party partnership with Virgin Media and RTÉ, and that they have chosen the Six Nations to build such a strong and compelling collaboration around all our competitions which will be to the benefit of our sport, our unions and of Rugby fans in Ireland.”
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. 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.”
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. The rapidly evolving sports landscape means it is by no means 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”.
Dee Forbes, Director-General, RTÉ, said, “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. 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. RTÉ has a long and proud history in showcasing Irish rugby and is delighted to work with Six Nations and the IRFU to continue to strengthen that tradition”.
No further comment will be made at this point from any of the parties until such time as the contract terms have been concluded.