Games involving all four provinces will be live and free-to-air on Irish television as the URC kicks off its inaugural season next week.
RTÉ and TG4‘s live free-to-air coverage of the new United Rugby Championship begins with Connacht live on TG4 on Friday, September 24, followed by an action-packed Saturday (September 25) as Leinster are live on TG4, and Munster live on RTÉ.
RTÉ will broadcast live television, radio and online coverage of 26 games featuring the provinces in the league, plus additional knockout matches. There will also be extensive highlights and analysis each week on Against the Head on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player.
TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will continue to be the station’s flagship rugby programme and will broadcast 26 games involving the Irish teams, and an additional 16 games featuring international club sides.
Spórt TG4 will also have exclusive behind-the-scenes action from the competition across its social media channels.
The United Rugby Championship final will also be delivered free-to-air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years.
The RTÉ/TG4 joint broadcast output contract has been awarded to Iris Productions. The Galway-based production company spearheaded many innovations in their previous rugby coverage on TG4, including behind-the-scenes referee briefings and audio-snoops on coaches and players. NEP Ireland will provide OB facilities.
Rónán O Coisdealbha, TG4’s Head of Sport, commented: “TG4 has been bringing interprovincial rugby to Irish audiences since the first days of the Celtic League in 2001, and we are looking forward to taking this next step with the URC and to see the South Africa ‘Super’ teams become part of our Rugbaí Beo line-up.
“This partnership with RTÉ galvanises TG4’s commitment to provide the best of sporting action to our audiences, and to making that coverage free-to-air and accessible to all fans.”
RTÉ’s Group Head of Sport, Declan McBennett, said: “Being in a position to provide free-to-air coverage of the provinces to our audience in the newly reconstituted URC allows us to ensure our best rugby players are seen, and seen to inspire future generations who want to one day wear their provincial and national jersey.”
Martin Anayi, the United Rugby Championship’s CEO, added: “The widespread return of URC and the provinces to free-to-air television in Ireland is a real cause for excitement.
“We can’t wait for that energy to be unleashed on the opening weekend with some cracking games on RTÉ and TG4 involving Leinster and Munster against two of South Africa’s heavyweights in the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks.
“We have talked about the potential of our new partnership with RTÉ and TG4 and now we get to see if come to life in a week’s time.”
TG4’s Rugbaí Beo
TG4’s Rugbai Beo, led by presenter Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, will feature expert analysis from Eimear Consideine, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Niamh Ní Dhroma, Marcus Horan, Ronan Loughney, Eoghan Ó Neachtain and Eamonn Molloy along with a host of others.
Match commentary will be provided by Garry Mac Donncha, Gemma Ní Choinnaith will take over presenting duties from Máire Treasa while she is on maternity leave later in the year.
URC coverage will get underway on TG4 with a bumper weekend of action. On Friday, September 24,,Connacht travel to Wales to take on Cardiff Rugby (kick-off 7.35pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).
On Saturday, September 25, Leinster take on the Vodacom Bulls at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).
RTÉ URC Live
RTÉ’s URC Live will be presented by Jacqui Hurley and Daire O’Brien with a top-class line-up of panellists.
RTÉ’s URC Live kicks off on Saturday, September 25 on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Player with Jacqui Hurley live from Thomond Park as Munster begin their campaign against the Cell C Sharks. Donal Lenihan will be alongside Hugh Cahill on commentary.
RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2fm will have full live commentary on the key games involving the provinces as well as reports, analysis, and interviews throughout the season.