United Rugby Championship: Live televised games return to BBC Cymru Wales

The United Rugby Championship - how the revamped competition will work

Friday night rugby will return to BBC Cymru Wales after a free-to-air television deal was announced with the new United Rugby Championship (URC) competition.

In Wales for the next four years, BBC and S4C will broadcast 75% of live games involving the four Welsh regions.

BBC Sport Wales will show 18 live games per season, one in each round in the primary Friday slot of 19:35.

S4C will broadcast 27 live games, with English language commentary available.

Live coverage of the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be additional to these games.

BBC Northern Ireland will also show six live Ulster home games per season, with one involving a Welsh region.

URC's long-term partner Premier Sport will continue to show the 151 games live.

"Our agreements with BBC Northern Ireland, BBC Wales and S4C is a progressive move to broaden access at a time when we have made a transformative change to our league," said URC chief executive Martin Anayi.

"This will provide a major uplift in our audience reach and increase the access for fans of all ages to connect with top-level rugby week after week.

"Over the next four years the exposure these agreements provide will be a great boost for our clubs as we establish the United Rugby Championship as one of the world's leading leagues."

BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Northern Ireland return to the competition's broadcast group for the first time since 2018 while digital clips and full radio rights have also been secured.

BBC Sport Wales' Scrum V Live programme will return to the screen on Friday nights, while the Scrum V Sunday night highlights show will continue to showcase the action from all the weekend's matches.

"This is a brilliant package of coverage for rugby fans over the next four years," said Rhuanedd Richards, director of content and services for BBC Cymru Wales.

"It's great news that viewers will be able to watch a range of games by tuning into Scrum V as well as Y Clwb Rygbi on S4C, both produced by our talented team at BBC Cymru Wales and all free-to-air.

"It's a brilliant addition for the rugby community which underlines our commitment to Welsh sport."

The Boxing Day and New Year's Day Welsh derbies and Judgement Day at the Principality Stadium will be live on either Scrum V or Clwb Rygbi.

S4C's partnership with the competition will run to 25 years by the end of this new agreement, which dates back to 2001 when the Welsh language broadcaster first screened the Celtic League.

There will be a minimum of 27 live matches on Clwb Rygbi, with one and sometimes two games each round. There will also be full-match coverage of the regions' other matches over the weekend on S4C.

BBC Wales will be producing Clwb Rygbi coverage for S4C.

"S4C is looking forward to joining forces with BBC Wales to show the new United Rugby Championship on free-to-air television," said Sue Butler, S4C sports commissioner.

"We've been with the Welsh regions from the very start and with 27 games including the festive derbies and Judgement Day, our output and commitment are greater than ever."

The new competition, where the four Welsh regions take on 12 teams from Ireland, Scotland, Italy and South Africa, gets underway on Friday, 24 September.

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