England rugby: Blow for fans as test match against Japan set to be first not shown on mainstream TV in decades

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England fans have been left scrambling to find plans after it was announced that an upcoming fixture will become the first in decades not to be shown on live TV.

The English rugby team are set to take part in a series of test matches in Japan this summer, with the first fixture against the country due to kick off on Saturday at 1am UK time. However, unlike previous years, fans staying up until the early hours to watch the match will not be able to so do on live TV.

It was confirmed last month that no broadcasting deal had been reached with mainstream television channels. Instead, the match will only be online as part of an “exclusive” and “exciting” deal with Rugby Pass TV. While Sky Sports holds a deal with Sanzaar rugby chiefs to show England’s second and third tests this summer against New Zealand, this did not cover the Japan match.

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Fans will be able to watch the game for free live via the Rugby Pass TV website, app or smart TV app. England Rugby marketing director Ewan Turney said: “This is an exciting partnership with World Rugby to enable all fans in the UK and Ireland to watch this historic match for free.

“We know that younger audiences are gravitating towards streaming platforms and fans are watching matches on a multitude of devices so we have chosen this free-to-air route.”

The next matches against New Zealand will take place later this summer. The first fixture will take place on July 6, while the second match against the All Black is scheduled for July 13.

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