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BT Sport and Sky Sports Reportedly Reach Deal on New European Competition

Toulon's Johann Van Niekerk keeps the ball in front of Cardiff's  Richard Smith, second from right and Chris Dicomidis, right, during their Heineken European Cup rugby match, in Nice, southeastern France, Satuday, Jan. 11, 2014. The winner of his pool 2 clash will qualify for the H Cup quarter final. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press
James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2014

They may remain locked in a tussle over football coverage, but BT Sport and Sky Sports apparently see eye to eye on how to handle bringing Rugby Union to our screens.

The two broadcast giants have agreed to a compromised deal to screen Rugby's new European competition formats, according to Gavin Mairs of The Telegraph.

The agreement breaks down to a swap and share arrangement between Sky Sports and BT that will divide coverage of the inaugural European Champions Cup.

Games will be divvied up in simple fashion for the competition's initial stages. As Mairs notes, BT Sport gets the first crack, and the station will focus on Champions Cup participants from the Aviva Premiership.

BT Sport will continue to focus on the best of the Aviva Premiership.
BT Sport will continue to focus on the best of the Aviva Premiership.David Rogers/Getty Images

According to Mairs, that is a nod to the deal BT inked to gain exclusive coverage of this season's premiership.

After BT has chosen its three matches featuring Aviva residents, Sky Sports takes over. Sky gets to cherrypick the most glamorous ties not featuring English representatives.

Mairs astutely speculates that this will probably mean the very best of Irish, Welsh and French Rugby being featured on Sky.

He also points out that this is a reflection of Sky's longstanding history screening the Heineken Cup, previously the premier competition for European club Rugby Union.

Sky's history of broadcasting the Heineken Cup has been honored in the new agreement.
Sky's history of broadcasting the Heineken Cup has been honored in the new agreement.Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

After that, the roles are reversed. Sky has the best ties of the second round featuring English clubs all to itself, while BT makes do with the continent's finest.

The new deal has given both sides a bit of what they want, so it's no surprise to see BT and Sky in unison. Although, it's probably too early to herald this as the start of a trend of coverage cooperation that will extend to other sports.  

The agreement is also a deserved moment of triumph for Rugby Football Union Chief Ian Ritchie, who worked hard to salvage tournament competition in Europe, per a report from Telegraph correspondent Mick Cleary.

The real winner of this broadcast share, though, is the Champions Cup competition designed to unify European club Rugby Union.

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