Under the deal, which is announced just ahead of two years to go to Rugby World Cup 2023, TF1 will provide free-to-air coverage of Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand (8 October-12 November, 2022) and Rugby World Cup 2023 in France (8 September-28 October).
The deal extends a partnership that stretches back to 1991 and delivered some of the largest audiences ever recorded in rugby, underscoring TF1’s ambition to provide free-to-air coverage of the best international sporting events.
Hosted in New Zealand, Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, will complete a golden year for women’s rugby following Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The deal builds on TF1’s commitment to leading coverage of women’s sport, which saw the broadcaster deliver innovative coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 and the recent European and World Handball Championships.
Hosted by France, Rugby World Cup 2023 will be the biggest event on the global sporting calendar in 2023 and the largest global sports event in France since Rugby World Cup 2007.
TF1 will bring its passion for rugby to the French public through a winning blend of programming that will showcase the world’s top 20 men’s teams, the 10 host cities and the nine host venues, uniting a nation behind rugby and its values.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “We are delighted to be extending our long-standing and successful partnership with TF1 group. We have a golden opportunity to reach and inspire new fans across France with Rugby World Cups in 2022 and 2023 and we know that TF1, with their passion and expertise for world-class live sport, will capture the action, the drama, emotion and story behind the matches perfectly.”
TF1 group Chairman and CEO Gilles Pélisson added: “We are pleased to offer French viewers free-to-air coverage of this fantastic tournament. This partnership is born out of our commitment to rugby, whose values we are proud to promote to a very large audience, with an ambitious French team that is in a very good state of mind. We are also very happy to offer a very eventful exposure to the upcoming Rugby World Cup 2021 and thus confirm our commitment to women's sport. It also shows our desire to forge strong ties with the public and to allow them to experience great sporting emotions on our channels.”
Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan was the most watched rugby event ever with more than 857 million people around the world watching the action via World Rugby’s network of rights-holding broadcast partners, an increase of 26 per cent from the previous tournament in England.
TF1 group will hope to break its record rugby audience of 18.7 million achieved during the RWC 2011 final between France and hosts New Zealand when the same fixture opens Rugby World Cup 2023 in France on 8 September, 2023 at the iconic Stade de France.
The global rugby family will celebrate two years to go to this opening match next Wednesday, 8 September with a special Facebook Live show. One million tickets have already been sold to fans around the world, confirming the global appeal of rugby’s biggest tournament.