English Rugby
RFU strike new deal with Sky Sports
November 3, 2008
Francis Baron, portrait, April 18, 2008
RFU boss Francis Baron welcomed the addition of national league rugby to the Sky Sports coverage © Getty Images
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Broadcaster Sky Sports has won a new 5-year deal for live England Rugby from the Rugby Football Union.

Under the agreement, which starts in 2010, all England matches played at home or overseas - outside the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup - will be exclusively live on Sky Sports. It gives Sky Sports more live rugby, including international, domestic, women's and youth matches than ever before and it will take the relationship between the RFU and Sky Sports into an 18th year with an extended range of rights:

  • England: All England home matches outside the RBS 6 Nations exclusively live, including the Autumn Investec Challenge series at Twickenham and Rugby World Cup warm-up matches, plus all away matches, including summer tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa over the five-year period.

  • Other internationals: Exclusively live coverage of England Saxons matches, including the Barclays Churchill Cup and Barbarians games, England Under- 20s matches, England Under 18s matches and the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup in England.

  • More matches: Starting in 2010-11 there will also be coverage of the County Championship finals , the England Counties XV, the Varsity Match, the Army v Navy match, the IRB World Sevens Series and the Middlesex Sevens.

  • Proposed new competitions: Sky will also have live match coverage and highlights rights to the RFU's proposed new competitions currently under discussion - the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the Anglo-Welsh Trophy, the Championship (previously National League One) and the National Clubs Championship - which are expected to commence by 2010-11.

    The deal includes online rights; live matches will be simulcast on Sky Sports channels on Sky Player - the online TV service.

    Announcing the new deal, RFU Chief Executive Francis Baron said, "We are delighted to have agreed terms with Sky Sports on a new five-year deal, thereby extending our long standing and successful partnership with them. We are particularly pleased that this new agreement extends to coverage of rugby union to the National Divisions and below. It also provides a solid base to our future revenue streams and certainty to our investment programmes."

    Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: "This deal means that we have top-class international rugby through to the end of the 2014-15 season. They will be exciting years for England under Martin Johnson, and we are delighted to be a part of it. We have internationals at all levels - from Under-18s and Saxons, through to the senior team - and we hope to see some outstanding talent coming through."

    Sky's Rugby Union line-up includes live coverage of international, European and domestic competition with the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup, the Guinness Premiership and, at international level, England's Autumn Internationals, the Tri-Nations and next summer's British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa.

    England were first shown live on Sky Sports in November 1997 with Clive Woodward's first match as Head Coach, against Australia at Twickenham. Coverage of the next match, when England ended the All Blacks record winning streak, secured a BAFTA for Sky Sports.

    The pioneering coverage has seen the introduction of high definition, Hi Motion replays, interactivity, and new camera technologies and positions.

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