Dublin talks on rugby TV deal

 

TALKS aimed at healing a rift between England and their Five Nations rivals over television coverage have been adjourned to a meeting in Dublin at the weekend.

Ireland, Wales, Scotland and France have criticised attempts by the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) to put together a £150 million deal with BSkyB.

The BBC contract for coverage of the Five Nations expires at the end of the 1997 championship, but England's rivals are outraged at what they see as self interest on the part of a section of the Twickenham hierarchy.

Under the present agreement, Sky are allowed to show delayed transmissions of the matches.

The other unions point to a longstanding Five Nations agreement that there would be no individual, behind the scenes deals. It is thought they were tipped off by other broadcasters.

A gathering of the four Home Unions to discuss a new television deal broke up in London on Tuesday, but talks will resume at a meeting of the Five Nations Committee in Dublin on Sunday.

The Scottish Rugby Union senior vice president, Fred McLeod, a member of the committee, said "The unions have each to balance individual needs with the over riding responsibility to use the medium of television both to bring additional revenue and to attract a new generation of players and spectators to the game.

"Further comment would be inappropriate until the Five Nations Committee have further privately considered these important issues."