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BBC secures England rugby highlights in RFU deal

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC has reached a five-year agreement with the Rugby Football Union to show highlights from all of England’s autumn international Test matches.

The deal runs from 2015-16 until 2019-20. No autumn internationals are scheduled for this year due to England’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup, but the team will play summer warm-up matches in August and September and highlights will air on the BBC Two channel.

All coverage will also be available online in the UK through the BBC iPlayer service. The BBC will also now be showing the men’s Varsity match between the Oxford and Cambridge University teams live for the next five years as well as highlights of the women’s Varsity match.

Pay-television broadcaster Sky holds the live rights for England home rugby union internationals outside of the Six Nations and World Cup during the same five-year period under an agreement signed last October.

Last week, the BBC and commercial broadcaster ITV secured a joint six-year rights deal in the face of reported competition from Sky to keep the Six Nations tournament on free-to-air television in the UK from 2016 to 2021.

However, the BBC, which previously held exclusive rights to the Six Nations, lost a substantial amount of England games under the deal. Under the terms of the agreement, each year ITV will show live coverage of England, Ireland and Italy home matches and Scotland, Wales and France away matches. The BBC will show live coverage of Scotland, Wales and France home matches and England, Ireland and Italy away matches.