Los Angeles and New York – Universal Sports and NBC Sports will present unprecedented multi-platform coverage of the upcoming 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Universal Sports will broadcast LIVE coverage of seven matches, beginning on Friday, September 9 at 3:30 a.m. ET with the Opening Ceremony, followed by the first match of the tournament, featuring host country New Zealand and Tonga. NBC will broadcast its first match on Sunday, September 11 at 1:00 p.m. ET, when the USA Eagles, in their first match of the tournament, take on Ireland.
Universal Sports’ and NBC Sports’ match coverage will feature a studio pre-game show and halftime and post-game shows, as well as several other production enhancements. The studio team will consist of Fred Roggin and Bill Seward alongside former USA star and Universal Sports analyst Brian Hightower.
“The Rugby World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and we are excited to showcase it for the first time to an American network TV audience,” said David Sternberg, CEO of Universal Sports. “With unprecedented coverage across all platforms, including web, mobile and tablet applications, both longstanding and new fans of the sport will be able to follow every minute of the action from New Zealand.”
“It is super exciting to have the Rugby World Cup broadcast on Universal Sports and NBC Sports,” said USA Eagles Captain Todd Clever. “When I first started playing rugby it was a minor sport with very limited opportunities for the fans to watch. Now the whole nation will get the opportunity to watch us play on the world’s greatest rugby stage and we can all celebrate together.”
In total, Universal Sports and NBC Sports will broadcast 10 of the tournament’s 48 matches. The remaining 38 matches will be available live on a residential and commercial pay-per-view basis from leading cable, satellite and iPV providers. Viewers should check TV listings for complete details.
Online streaming of all 48 matches, including 41 live contests, will be available at UniversalSports.com on a subscription basis. Users will be able to purchase individual matches or a full-tournament package. In addition, Universal Sports’ website and new iPad app will offer up-to-date broadcast schedules, breaking news from Universalsports.com rugby correspondent Buzz McClain, video highlights, special features, photo galleries and more.
The IRB Rugby World Cup is one of the largest and most avidly watched sporting events in the world, drawing an estimated 4.2 billion viewers worldwide during the last championship in France in 2007. The tournament field consists of 20 different nations, including the United States, who will compete over the course of six weeks for the coveted Webb Ellis Cup. New Zealand and Australia jointly hosted the first edition of the Rugby World Cup in 1987, while South Africa is the defending champion from 2007.
Universal Sports and NBC Sports Broadcast Schedule
Date Time (ET) Match Network
September 9 3:30 a.m. LIVE Opening Ceremony Universal Sports
4:15 a.m. LIVE New Zealand vs. Tonga Universal Sports
September 11 1:00 p.m. USA vs. Ireland NBC
5:00 p.m. USA vs. Ireland Universal Sports (NBC Re-Air)
September 15 3:15 a.m. LIVE USA vs. Russia Universal Sports
8:00 p.m. USA vs. Russia Universal Sports (Re-Air)
September 23 4:15 a.m. LIVE USA vs. Australia Universal Sports
8:00 p.m. USA vs. Australia Universal Sports (Re-Air)
September 27 2:15 a.m. LIVE USA vs. Italy Universal Sports
8:00 p.m. USA vs. Italy Universal Sports (Re-Air)
October 2 3:00 p.m. New Zealand vs. Canada NBC
7:00 p.m. New Zealand vs. Canada Universal Sports (NBC Re-Air)
October 15 3:45 a.m. LIVE Semi-Final #1 Universal Sports
5:00 p.m. Semi-Final #1 Universal Sports (Re-Air)
October 16 3:45 a.m. LIVE Semi-Final #2 Universal Sports
5:00 p.m. Semi-Final #2 Universal Sports (Re-Air)
October 21 3:15 a.m. LIVE Bronze Final Universal Sports
7:00 p.m. Bronze Final Universal Sports (Re-Air)
October 23 3:00 p.m. Final NBC
8:00 p.m. Final Universal Sports (Re-Air)