ESPN+, ESPN Networks to Bring Guinness PRO14 Rugby to US Fans in Multi-Year Agreement


ESPN+, ESPN Networks to Bring Guinness PRO14 Rugby to US Fans in Multi-Year Agreement

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ESPN has secured the rights to show every game from the Guinness PRO14 Rugby Championship across their television network and their direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+ until 2021.

The Guinness PRO14, one of the most exciting professional club rugby union competitions in the world featuring top professional teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales, will be available to fans across the U.S. beginning this week, exclusively on ESPN+ and the ESPN television networks as part of a multi-year agreement.

RDA, the international media rights agency, secured the landmark agreement for the Guinness PRO14, which will see every one of the 152 games per season available in the US with over 140 games shown on ESPN+ and 10 showcase games lined up to appear in HD on ESPN networks.

ESPN+, the premium multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) and ESPN, will feature 142 matches per season. Another 10 matches, all between December and May, will appear on ESPN’s linear television networks.

The 24 match-week 2018-19 season stretches from August 31 to the Final on May 25, 2019 in Glasgow’s Celtic Park. Coverage on ESPN+ will begin immediately, with a full slate of matches this weekend.

FAST FACTS — Guinness PRO14 Rugby

  • The Guinness Pro 14 is made up of 14 teams from five countries, including:
    • Ireland: Connacht Rugby (Galway), Leinster Rugby (Dublin), Munster Rugby (Limerick), Ulster Rugby (Belfast)
    • Italy: Benetton Rugby (Treviso), Zebre Rugby Club (Parma)
    • Scotland: Edinburgh Rugby, Glasgow Warriors
    • South Africa: Southern Kings (Port Elizabeth), Toyota Cheetahs (Bloemfontein)
    • Wales: Cardiff Blues, Dragons (Newport), Ospreys (Swansea), Scarlets (Llanelli)
  • Each team plays each of the other teams in their conference twice (home and away) and each team from the opposite conference once.
  • Each team plays two further derby fixtures against teams from the same nation, but in the opposite conference.
  • Six teams (top three from each conference) make it into the Final Series, with the top team in each conference getting a bye in the initial round (quarterfinals).
  • The competition features one of the most storied rivalries in world rugby, between Leinster and Munster, which dates back to 1879. Leinster hold a 49-42 advantage in overall wins, with five draws.
  • USA Rugby Men’s National Team captain Blaine Scully plays professionally for the Cardiff Blues.
  • Last season, both major European trophies (Champions Cup and Challenge Cup) were won by Guinness PRO14 clubs (Leinster Rugby and Cardiff Blues, respectively).

Martin Anayi, CEO of PRO14 Rugby, said: “ESPN is synonymous with epic sporting moments and this new partnership will be remembered as a significant day in the history of the Guinness PRO14. We know how popular the Guinness PRO14 is in North America, particularly now with the US Eagles’ duo of Blaine Scully and Samu Manoa playing at Cardiff Blues. Rugby is growing in popularity all of the time in the US and we know rugby fans there are just as eager to see our games as supporters in Ireland, Wales, Italy, South Africa and Scotland.

“We are thrilled to know that so many games will be available on ESPN+ with some of our best games of the season also screened on ESPN’s linear network. The Guinness PRO14 is one of the most exciting rugby union tournaments in the world which is going from strength to strength and we’re thrilled that American fans will see that for themselves.”

“The Guinness PRO14 is one of the pillars of professional rugby, with some of the world’s most storied and accomplished clubs,” said Burke Magnus, Executive Vice President, Programming, ESPN. “Adding it to the ESPN+ lineup every week, and introducing it further to viewers on the ESPN networks, is a fantastic development for the existing, passionate rugby fans of the sport in the U.S. and will also help expand the audience for world class rugby.”

Dermot Rigley, Commercial & Marketing Director of PRO14 Rugby, said: “This season we agreed record-breaking TV deals and revamped our domestic broadcast offerings which allows us to provide a product that is appealing to ESPN and so many other major sports broadcasters around the world. The Guinness PRO14 sets incredibly high standards on the pitch and we are delighted that we can deliver a world-class viewing experience to rugby fans in the United States through this partnership over the next three years.”

ESPN+ coverage begins Friday at 2:35 p.m. ET, with a three matches, including defending champions Leinster open their 2018-19 campaign on the road in Cardiff to face the Blues, followed by another four matches on Saturday.


Fri 8/31/18 2:35pm Cardiff Blues Leinster Rugby
2:35pm Ospreys Rugby Edinburgh Rugby
2:35pm Zebre Rugby Club Southern Kings
Sat 9/1/18 10am Connacht Rugby Glasgow Warriors
12:15pm Ulster Rugby Scarlets
12:15pm Munster Rugby Toyota Cheetahs
2:35pm Dragons Benetton Rugby
Fri 9/7/18 2:35pm Glasgow Warriors Munster Rugby
2:35pm Ulster Rugby Edinburgh Rugby
Sat 9/8/18 10am Dragons Southern Kings
12:15pm Connacht Rugby Zebre Rugby Club
12:30pm Ospreys Rugby Toyota Cheetahs
2:35pm Scarlets Leinster Rugby
2:35pm Benetton Rugby Cardiff Blues
Fri 9/14/18 2:35pm Edinburgh Rugby Connacht Rugby
2:35pm Munster Rugby Ospreys Rugby
Sat 9/15/18 12:15pm Scarlets Benetton Rugby
12:15pm Leinster Rugby Dragons
1:30pm Toyota Cheetahs Glasgow Warriors
2:35pm Zebre Rugby Club Cardiff Blues
Sun 9/16/18 8:15am Southern Kings Ulster Rugby
Fri 9/21/18 1:15pm Toyota Cheetahs Ulster Rugby
2:35pm Cardiff Blues Munster Rugby
Sat 9/22/18 9am Southern Kings Glasgow Warriors
12:15pm Connacht Rugby Scarlets
12:15pm Dragons Zebre Rugby Club
2:35pm Leinster Rugby Edinburgh Rugby
2:35pm Ospreys Rugby Benetton Rugby
Fri 9/28/18 2:35pm Cardiff Blues Toyota Cheetahs
2:35pm Edinburgh Rugby Benetton Rugby
Sat 9/29/18 10am Zebre Rugby Club Ospreys Rugby
12:15pm Connacht Rugby Leinster Rugby
1:30pm Scarlets Southern Kings
2:35pm Glasgow Warriors Dragons
2:35pm Munster Rugby Ulster Rugby

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Kristie Adler

Kristie is Director of Communications. She graduated from Penn State University and is based in New York City.
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