RUGBY UNION: Sky Sports to screen Ireland, France and Italy Autumn Internationals from 2014

Sky Sports has been awarded the rights to screen all of Ireland, France and Italy’s Autumn Internationals exclusively live from 2014.

The trio of four-year agreements will more than double Sky’s live offering of international test matches, joining its existing long-term deal with the RFU for England’s QBE Internationals.

The new deal ends the BBC’s long association with Irish international rugby outside the Six Nations, but the corporation will screen Ireland’s 2013 autumn internationals in the remaining year of its existing contract.

Starting in 2014, Sky subscribers will be able enjoy four European nations take on southern hemisphere opposition throughout a busy month of world class international rugby.

Announcing the new deals, Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “Our rugby union schedule has never been stronger and only on Sky Sports can viewers now enjoy such a great line-up of live Autumn Internationals.”

“With European teams taking on the finest southern hemisphere opposition each November, these matches make for fascinating viewing.

“Add these agreements to our year round coverage of rugby union, including the British & Irish Lions and Heineken Cup, and Sky Sports continues as the home of televised rugby union.”

Philip Browne, chief executive of the IRFU added: “Sky Sports has built a reputation as one of the top broadcasters of rugby over the last 10 years and are synonymous with the professional game at both provincial and international levels.

“The IRFU are delighted to be able to announce this partnership and believe that the quality of Sky Sports coverage of our November internationals will be a wonderful platform for Irish Rugby.”

This new deal continues a series of strong major rights contracts for Sky Sports, with 21 deals in the last year, including the exclusive live rights to the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and a long term European rugby deal with the ERC, but they lost the rights to screen Aviva Premiership matches to BT Sport.

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