Live Champions Cup rugby will return to terrestrial TV in Ireland for the first time in over a decade, writes Stephen Barry.
TV3 Group has secured a deal with the tournament organisers to broadcast nine games.
The station will televise one game per week – six group-stage games, a quarter-final, semi-final and the final – as part of the four-year deal.
They will also take over Champions Cup highlights from TG4, with a weekly highlights show featuring the Irish teams.
The last free-to-air European Cup game broadcast in Ireland was Munster’s 2006 final victory over Biarritz. That was shown live on RTÉ.
The deal will begin next season, starting in October 2018, and runs until the May 2022 final. It marks another first for TV3's expanding rugby coverage, which includes the Six Nations.
“We are delighted to be bringing Champions Cup rugby to TV3. 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,” said TV3’s Managing Director Pat Kiely.
“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.”
EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) Chief Executive Vincent Gaillard added: “Irish passion for rugby is part of the fabric of the Champions Cup and we are delighted to take the competition into the homes of even more fans through this deal with TV3,”