United Rugby Championship: Ulster Rugby matches to return to free-to-air TV with BBC NI

United Rugby Championship: Fly through the home of Ulster Rugby with BBC Sport NI

BBC Northern Ireland will televise six of Ulster's United Rugby Championship (URC) home matches this season having signed a three-year broadcast deal with the new competition.

The opening BBC game will be the visit of Benetton on 8 October, then Ulster's first match against a South African side, the Sigma Lions a week later.

BBC NI's other live matches will feature Ulster's Boxing Day interpo against Connacht and their matches in the new year against Cardiff, Munster and the Cell C Sharks.

The deal will see the broadcaster host six Ulster URC matches per season; two against Irish opposition, two versus South African sides and one game each against a Welsh and Italian team.

The new-look competition, replacing the Pro14, sees four South African franchises join the four Irish provinces, four Welsh regions, two Scottish sides and two Italian teams, with the top eight sides advancing to the quarter-finals.

The deal also includes an agreement that BBC NI will broadcast the grand final should Ulster make it to the competition's show piece during the three years.

Ulster's pre-season friendly against Saracens on 3 September will also be streamed live on the BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport NI website.

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Ulster Rugby games live on BBC NI in 2021-22 United Rugby Championship
Ulster v BenettonFriday, 8 October
Ulster v Sigma LionsFriday, 15 October
Ulster v ConnachtSunday, 26 December
Ulster v CardiffTBC
Ulster v MunsterTBC
Ulster v Cell C SharksTBC
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The broadcast deal will also see the introduction of a new weekly TV programme - 'The Ulster Rugby Show' - featuring a line-up of special guests and pundits taking a light-hearted look at the week's action from the province and across the new tournament.

Every Ulster Rugby match in the URC will be available on BBC iPlayer 24 hours after each round with clips of the best action and tries on the BBC Sport NI website and social media channels.

"As we look forward to the United Rugby Championship getting started, we welcome the news that BBC NI will once again be broadcasting from Kingspan Stadium on match night: once again becoming part of the fabric of rugby in Northern Ireland," said Ulster chief Jonny Petrie.

"Not only will this allow more supporters to be part of the action and atmosphere under the Friday night lights but, through the likes of The Ulster Rugby Show, will offer our fans opportunities throughout the week to enjoy the latest action from the new season."

"BBC NI have a history of capturing the moments that matter when it comes to sport in Northern Ireland which is not only a positive for Ulster, but for rugby fans in general," added URC CEO Martin Anayi.

"They have expressed huge enthusiasm for the URC and the arrival of the big four from South Africa."

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