RTÉ's cameras will be in Thomond on Saturday week. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

RTÉ and TG4 reveal free-to-air TV schedule for Irish provinces as URC partnership begins

Connacht and Leinster will both be live on Rugbaí Beo in two weekends’ time, while Munster will kick off on RTÉ’s ‘URC Live’.

MUNSTER’S OPENING FIXTURE in the inaugural United Rugby Championship on Saturday week will be shown live on RTÉ and on the RTÉ Player, the broadcaster has confirmed, while Connacht and Leinster will both have their season openers beamed into living rooms on TG4′s Rugbaí Beo.

Ulster versus Glasgow Warriors, meanwhile, will be exclusively live on Premier Sports on Friday week (19:35).

In total, RTÉ and TG4 will combine to bring over 150 free-to-air hours of rugby to viewers in Ireland this season.

Beginning with Munster versus the Cell C Sharks on Saturday 25 September (19:35), RTÉ will show 26 live league games involving Irish provinces, plus additional knockout matches.

TG4 will also broadcast 26 live games involving Irish provinces, plus an additional 16 fixtures involving URC clubs from other countries. In addition, Spórt TG4 will provide exclusive behind-the-scenes action from the competition across its social media channels, while RTÉ’s Against the Head will include televised match highlights and analysis each week.

Rugbaí Beo will kick off its season run with Connacht’s trip to Cardiff on Friday week (19:35) and continue with Leinster versus the Bulls on Saturday (17:15), before RTÉ make their competition bow with Munster-Sharks that same night.

The URC final will be delivered free-to-air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years.

Rugbaí Beo will be presented by Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill and throughout the season will include punditry from Eimear Considine, Deirbhile Nica Bhaird, Niamh Ní Dhroma, Marcus Horan, Ronan Loughney, Eoghan Ó Neachtain and Eamonn Molloy among others. Gemma Ní Choinnaith will deputise in the presenter’s role for Ní Dhubhghaill while she is on maternity leave later in the year. TG4′s match commentary will be provided by Garry Mac Donncha.

RTÉ’s URC Live will be presented by Jacqui Hurley and Daire O’Brien, with the former taking the hotseat for Munster’s season opener on Saturday week. Hugh Cahill and Donal Lenihan will provide commentary from Thomond Park, while RTÉ have promised a “top-class line-up of panellists” for their live URC coverage.

Rónán Ó Coisdealbha, TG4′s head of sport said: “TG4 has been bringing interprovincial rugby to Irish audiences since the first days of the Celtic League in 2001, and we are looking forward to taking this next step with the URC and to see the South Africa ‘Super [Rugby]’ teams become part of our Rugbaí Beo line-up. This partnership with RTÉ galvanises TG4’s commitment to provide the best of sporting action to our audiences, and to making that coverage free-to-air and accessible to all fans.”

Declan McBennett, group head of sport at RTÉ, said: “Throughout the year, RTÉ Sport has seen the very best of Irish athletes compete domestically and internationally against first-class opposition at an elite level. Being in a position to provide free-to-air coverage of the provinces to our audience in the newly reconstituted URC adds a further dimension to that and allows us to ensure our best rugby players are seen, and seen to inspire future generations who want to one day wear their provincial and national jersey.”

URC CEO Martin Anayi added: “The widespread return of URC and the provinces to free-to-air television in Ireland is a real cause for excitement and we can’t wait for that energy to be unleashed on the opening weekend with some cracking games on RTÉ and TG4 involving Leinster and Munster against two of South Africa’s heavyweights in the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks. We have talked about the potential of our new partnership with RTÉ and TG4 and now we get to see if come to life in a week’s time.”

RTÉ & TG4 live televised fixtures

Friday 24 September

  • Cardiff v Connacht, TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 25 September

  • Leinster v Vodacom Bulls, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Munster v Cell C Sharks, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Friday 1 October

  • Connacht v Vodacom Bulls TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 2 October

  • Dragons v Leinster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
  • Munster v DHL Stormers, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Friday 8 October

  • Ulster v Benetton, TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 9 October

  • Leinster v Zebre, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
  • Connacht v Dragons, TG4 & TG4 Player

Sunday 10 October

  • Scarlets v Munster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Friday 15 October

  • Ulster v Emirates Lions, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Saturday 16 October

  • Benetton v Ospreys, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Leinster v Scarlets, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Munster v Connacht, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Friday 22 October

  • Scarlets v Benetton, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Glasgow v Leinster, TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 23 October

  • Ospreys v Munster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
  • Connacht v Ulster, TG4 & TG4 Player

Friday 26 November

  • Connacht v Ospreys, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Saturday 27 November

  • Cell C Sharks v Scarlets, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Vodacom Bulls v Munster, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Leinster v Ulster RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Friday 3 December

  • Leinster v Connacht, TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 4 December

  • Emirates Lions v Munster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
  • DHL Stormers v Cardiff, TG4 & TG4 Player

Sunday 26 December

  • Ulster v Connacht, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Munster v Leinster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player

Saturday 1 January

  • Connacht v Munster, TG4 & TG4 Player
  • Ulster v Leinster, TG4 & TG4 Player

Friday 7 January

  • Leinster v Emirates Lions, TG4 & TG4 Player

Saturday 8 January

  • Connacht v DHL Stormers, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
  • Munster v Ulster, RTÉ2 & RTÉ Player
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