Premiership rugby final to be shown on free to air TV for first time in history

Gallagher Premiership rugby is coming back to free to air TV, following the collapse of their Channel 5 deal.

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For the first time in the history of Premiership rugby, the final will be held on free to air TV.

The Gallagher Rugby Premiership have signed a new deal with ITV that will not only see the rugby final take place on their channel, but will also see the return of the free-to-air weekly highlights programme.

ITV have also secured the rights to show four live Premiership matches, starting with the Sale Sharks clash against current league leaders Leicester Tigers, followed by a highlights show later that evening.

A highlights show hosted by David Flatman and Mark Durden-Smith was previously broadcast on Channel 5, but was cancelled at the beginning of the season at very short notice, to the dismay of many rugby union fans.

Former Bath and England player, David Flatman will host the ITV highlights showFormer Bath and England player, David Flatman will host the ITV highlights show
Former Bath and England player, David Flatman will host the ITV highlights show

Flatman looks set to return to the screen once again, this time joined by Topsy Ojo, a former London Irish and England winger.

Not only will ITV be able to show the Premiership Final and the Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers match, but this new partnership will also give ITV seven live games for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons, including the final.

BT Sport will continue their coverage and the matches on ITV will be shown simultaneously.

When is the Gallagher Premiership final?

The final will be held on Saturday 18 June and will take place at Twickenham Stadium, London.

Leicester Tigers have been dominating the League all season and look fairly sure to have secured their spot. Saracens and Harlequins - with just a point between them- are sitting in second and third respectively at this point in the season, and have a strong chance of securing their spot in the season’s grand finale.

The final will be shown on ITV4 this year due to a clash with Royal Ascot, but in the succeeding years, the match will switch to ITV1.

The matches will also be available to live stream through the ITV Hub.

Who is Simon Massie-Taylor and what has he said?

Massie-Taylor has recently started as Premiership Rugby’s new chief executive, jumping over from the Rugby Football Union.

Massie-Taylor was a former chief commercial officer and able to draw on his current broadcasting contacts in order to put together this new deal.

The new CEO has said: “What we want is this appointment to view, this time when all rugby fans get around the TV to see the peak of the season.

“You want our version of the ‘Super Bowl moment’ and I think we can have that with the combination of ITV and BT.

Leicester Tigers are highly likely to feature in this year’s 2022 finalLeicester Tigers are highly likely to feature in this year’s 2022 final
Leicester Tigers are highly likely to feature in this year’s 2022 final

“Generally, people are gathering around the telly more and more for these national moments. You have seen it with (Emma) Raducanu and you’ve seen it with the peak of the Formula One season. Frankly that’s what we need, the peak of our season.

“We want to make the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022 the most-watched in our history. In the long-term we would hope to build beyond the million mark in terms of viewers.”

He continued: “The key thing when you boil it down also was to try and dovetail with torah rugby programming. And that was what was perhaps missing form the Channel Five partnership and it is so important with the ITV piece because they are the Six Nations League and broadcaster, they are the Rugby World Cup broadcaster, and they are bringing in eight million people to watch those games.

“And so if you can, if you can dovetail with that, then you know I think you’ll have a really big effect on broadening our regular fan base …the return to terrestrial TV is the perfect way for us to kick off 2022. It’s great news for the league, our clubs, the supporters and the profile of rugby in England.

“Our ambition is to grow the game and make the Premiership available to as many people as possible. BT Sport have done an amazing job in building the core Premiership Rugby TV audience and the ITV partnership allows us to expand our reach into the households of millions of other rugby fans.

“This season our average match audience on BT Sport has risen 30% year on year, which shows the potential.”

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