PRO14 Rugby and BBC can confirm that Free-To-Air highlights of the Guinness PRO14 will be screened across the broadcaster’s regional networks in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from this weekend until end of the 2020/21 season.
Rugby fans in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be able to view an hour-long highlights programme on Sunday and Monday nights following a weekend of Guinness PRO14 action. Additionally, highlights of the Welsh regions’ fixtures will appear as part of BBC Wales Scrum V programme on Sunday evenings.
Fans across the UK will also be able to access the hour-long programme on the BBC iPlayer from 19:00 on Monday evenings right through to the Guinness PRO14 Final Series and including the Final which will be held in Cardiff on June 20.
Appointment to view times will be at the core of the highlights coverage with fans in Wales getting access at 17:00 on BBC Scrum V on Sundays and again on Mondays at 22:35. In Northern Ireland the highlights will initially be shown at 23:15 on Mondays after Newsnight. The BBC Scotland channel will air their highlights show on Mondays at 19:00.
PRO14 Rugby would like to extend their gratitude to Premier Sports for their part in this new partnership and remind fans that every Guinness PRO14 game can be viewed on Premier Sports live in HD.
Dermot Rigley, Commercial Director of PRO14 Rugby said: "BBC’s return to the Guinness PRO14 is terrific news for our fans and adds yet another committed broadcast partner to our Championship. As a tournament we have set a new standard by ensuring every single game is available live to our viewers in the UK and now with our highlights available to Free-To-Air audiences via BBC, rugby fans will have unprecedented access to the Guinness PRO14.
"There has always been wide-spread interest in our highlights but choosing to work alongside BBC once again allows us to pick up on a relationship that we know will deliver the right result for sports fans. BBC were on hand at our very first Celtic League Final in 2001 and played a part in our journey over the subsequent years, so it is fantastic that they return at a time when the Guinness PRO14 has never been stronger.
"The Guinness PRO14 is on an upward curve thanks to the exciting rugby on the pitch, the significant growth in turnover that has been driven by our commercial team and the vibrancy of our digital platforms. Every season around 300 international players appear in our Championship where the fast-paced rugby is driven by some of the sharpest coaching minds in the game.
"As recently as the summer we saw the power that Pay TV and FTA broadcaster provided for the Cricket World Cup Final – now we will be able to provide more coverage to rugby fans right across the UK which is great news for everyone."
Grigor Stirling, Sport Commissioning Executive, BBC Scotland said: "We are delighted we’ve secured this agreement to bring the best of the action from PRO14 over the next two seasons. It’s a welcome addition to our wide portfolio of sports on the channel, and we’re sure that rugby fans will enjoy the Championship highlights after each round on our new programme."
BBC Cymru Wales’s Head of Sport, Geoff Williams said: "Together with the fascinating Rugby World Cup in Japan and a dramatic challenge at the top of the Conference tables, this is a great time to see the championship highlights return to the BBC. Rugby forms part of our national conversation and we’ll bring all the action to fans across the country."
BBC Northern Ireland’s Executive Editor for Sport, Neil Brittain said: "This is great news for rugby fans. The PRO14 is a fantastic tournament. We have a long history of broadcasting the competition, so I’m delighted that it’s back on BBC Northern Ireland television. The new programme will of course include Ulster Rugby games but there will be highlights off all the matches from each round so viewers will get to see some of the world’s best players and best teams every week in the competition. It also really reinforces our commitment to our audiences to bring them the best sporting action – complementing our coverage of Football, GAA and bikes."
The BBC schedule following Round 6 of the Guinness PRO14:
BBC2 Wales – Sunday, Scrum V (regions fixtures) at 17:00
BBC Scotland channel – Monday, Hour-long programme at 19:00
BBC2 Northern Ireland – Monday, Hour-long programme at 23:15
This will change to Sundays at 22:00 in due course
BBC2 Wales – Monday, Hour-long programme at 22:35
BBC iPlayer – Monday, Hour-long programme available from 19:00
Please note: As well as the highlights package, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales & BBC Radio Cymru will all continue their live commentary of Guinness PRO14 matches each weekend.