Women’s Rugby World Cup aims for wider audience with Sky Sports deal

Women’s sport often loses out in terms of television hours compared to coverage of men’s games but the balance does appear to be shifting. A significant new move is Sky Sports picking up the rights to show this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup live and exclusively in the UK.

The tournament takes place in France starting on 1 August with pool matches, building up to the final at Stade Jean-Bouin, the home ground of Parisian rugby team Stade Français. National teams competing include the host nation with England, Ireland, Spain, Wales, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Canada, the US, Australia, Samoa and current World Cup holders New Zealand.

Sky Sports will broadcast pool stages, the semi-finals and final live. The deal with the IRB also covers coverage of the Junior World Championship, taking place in New Zealand during June. Commenting on these new additions to the channel’s roster, Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “It’s fantastic that this summer we will have the best women’s rugby on Sky, adding to our strong year-round portfolio of women’s sport. It’s also great news we’ll get to showcase the stars of the future in the Junior World Championship across our channels.”

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset added: “Sky Sports are renowned for their passion and support for rugby and we are delighted to be extending our partnership with a broadcaster who shares our vision for women’s and age grade rugby. It’s also further proof of the great leaps made by the women’s game. In a Women’s Rugby World Cup year and with the growth of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, it’s good to see the game reaching out to new audiences.”

The captain of the England women’s rugby team, Katy McLean, commented: “It’s brilliant news that the World Cup will be live on Sky Sports. The team and I can’t wait to play in the tournament knowing that women’s rugby will be taken to a wide audience and all our fans, friends and family can watch us back home.”

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