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ITV closes in on Rugby World Cup extension – report

UK commercial broadcaster ITV is close to extending a rights deal with World Rugby, the global governing body of rugby union, for its Rugby World Cup showpiece national team tournament, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The broadcaster is reported to be in final negotiations to renew its current deal through to 2027.

Last month, World Rugby launched the rights tender process for the 2019 tournament in the UK and Ireland. Pay-television broadcaster Sky was expected to challenge ITV for the rights, but instead opted to bypass the 2019 event and focus solely on the 2023 edition.

ITV has broadcast free-to-air coverage of the tournament in the UK since 1991, with the 2015 World Cup attracting peak audiences of 11.5 million for England’s matches against Fiji, Wales and Australia and the final.

The Rugby World Cup final is the only rugby union event protected for free-to-air coverage in the UK under government legislation.