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Watching rugby games live is more accessible than ever. The rise of the sport in the professional era has been meteoric. However, every tv channel wants in on the action. As a result, the rights to screen rugby games are dispersed across seven different channels for Irish viewers. This has actually hindered viewing for fans of the game instead of making it easier.
By comparison, soccer fans are often put out by the BT Sport and Sky rivalry. Having to choose between two is a blessing though. Rugby fans have to invest much more to ensure they don’t miss any action. Specifically, you would have to be subscribed to Sky Sports, BT Sports, Eir Sport, Premier Sports, TG4, RTE, and Virgin to be able to watch every rugby game available. Amazon could potentially join this list in the near future.
International games are easily the most popular. In rugby though, they don’t come around all that often. When they do, they take centre stage. For example, a record 44.9 million people watched South Africa prevail over England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. Luckily, the annual 6 nations goes to free-to-air Virgin.
Yet, the November and Summer test games are a huge draw. To avail of these mouthwatering fixtures, you need to be a Sky customer. This may not be the case for much longer. Amazon is currently looking to buy the rights to screen these November internationals.
Fans the ones who suffer
Club rugby is what most of the calendar comprises of. There is no shortage of games and likewise, there is no shortage of places to watch them. The Pro14 is spread out across Eir Sport, Premier Sports, and TG4. If you fancy watching the English Premiership though, you need BT.
The Champions Cup is arguably the biggest competition in the club game. Unfortunately, fans who follow their team through the league could be deprived of watching this competition. Free-to-air channels lose out to BT Sports to show these headline games. Meanwhile, those attracted to the more open Super Rugby championship or Mitre Cup must have Sky.
Here is a full breakdown of the dispersion of TV rights for Rugby Union games.
Six Nations: Virgin
November/Summer Internationals: Sky Sports.
English Premiership: BT Sports
Champions Cup: BT Sports
Women’s Rugby: RTE
U20 Internationals: RTE
Super Rugby: Sky Sports
School’s Rugby: Premier Sports
Mitre Cup : Sky Sports
Womens Internationals : RTE
Rugby World Cup: Eir sport, Virgin Sports
November internationals – Amazon
Perhaps rugby is a victim of its own success. With so many fans of the game, it is a big task to keep everyone happy. Nonetheless, very few people have access to watch any competition that comes around. It’s clear that watching rugby has grown out of control and seems to only be continuing that way.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) September 4, 2020