European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR), the organiser of the two major club rugby union tournaments in Europe, has confirmed that Irish commercial broadcaster TV3 has secured rights to the Champions Cup until the end of the 2021/22 season.
The deal will see Europe’s premier club rugby union competition return to free-to-air television in Ireland for the first time since 2003, and gives TV3 the right to show one live match per round during the Champions Cup pool stage over the next four seasons, as well as one live match from each of the knockout rounds.
The news was first reported by the Telegraph newspaper on Friday, when it was also claimed that UK terrestrial television network Channel 4 had secured domestic rights to the Champions Cup. That particular deal is yet to be confirmed, although ECPR said in an official release that a further free-to-air offering in the UK is set to be announced shortly.
Last July, pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport secured the rights to show the majority of Champions Cup matches in the UK and Ireland from next season to 2022.
“It's a key EPCR objective to take the outstanding rugby experiences of European professional club rugby into the homes of even more fans and we are delighted to be increasing our coverage with TV3 in Ireland,” said Carsten Couchouron, EPCR’s marketing and commercial director. “TV3 have extensive experience of delivering quality rugby broadcasting and we are certain they will bring both knowledge and passion to the Champions Cup."
“We are delighted to be bringing Champions Cup rugby to TV3,” added TV3 managing director Pat Kiely. “This deal reflects the great momentum we now have and, as part of Virgin Media, we continue to deliver more great content and live events for our viewers and customers. We are clearly in a golden era for Irish rugby and Irish audiences can now look forward to even more action from club and country on TV3.”