Rugby World CupTV Schedule

Rugby World Cup TV schedule: All games will be to free-to-air for fans in Ireland

RTÉ and Virgin will each show two of Ireland’s pool fixtures and happily they all take place on Saturdays

When it comes to the Rugby World Cup, Ireland, as we all know, have suffered from a severe dose of quarter-final-itis down the years, reaching that stage of the tournament on seven occasions but never once getting past it.

We live in hope, need it be said, that this time will be different, Wikipedia nudging us in the direction of optimism in their section on this World Cup’s global broadcasters. RTÉ, they told us, will have live coverage of “Ireland’s semi-final”. That was enough to give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

They stopped short of stating that RTÉ and Virgin Media will both bring us “Ireland’s final”, that would have been a touch over-confident, although we can dream.

It was back in March that the two broadcasters announced that they would share coverage of the tournament, ensuring that all 48 games would, mercifully, be free-to-air.


That’s not the case in a fair chunk of the rest of the globe – while most countries will be able to watch their own teams’ games for free, in many cases the rest of the tournament will be behind a paywall.

And if you happen to live in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Thailand, Laos or Cambodia, then beIN SPORTS will be your host – so every one of the games will be tucked in at the rear of a paywall.

Irish rugby diehards have, then, struck it lucky on that one. Ahead of them are 48 games nestled in to seven weeks, during which they’ll barely come up for air.

RTÉ and Virgin will each show two of Ireland’s pool games live – Virgin kick off with coverage of the opener against Romania on September 9th, RTÉ will then have the games against Tonga and South Africa, on September 16th and 23rd respectively, before Virgin finish up the pool phase of the tournament with coverage of Ireland’s meeting with Scotland (October 7th).

Happily, all four pool games are on a Saturday, the first at 2.30pm, the other three at 8pm in the evening, so that’s handy enough. Kick-off times range from midday to 8pm, with 2pmish and 5pmish slots in between, making this tournament the envy of those who followed the women’s football World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and are suffering from jet lag-like symptoms ever since.

If – and not when, (we’re avoiding Wikipedia-level fate-tempting here) – Ireland make it to yet another quarter-final, Virgin will beam it live in to your livingroom, while “Ireland’s semi-final”, as we mentioned, will be on RTÉ.

After that, both RTÉ and Virgin will have live coverage of the final, so you’ll have your pick.

Jacqui Hurley will be your main host on RTÉ, with Daire O’Brien presenting a round-up of all the action and talking points each Monday on Against the Head.

Hugh Cahill, Des Curran and Connor Morris will be in the commentary box, although not at the same time, while Clare MacNamara, Justin Treacy, Paul O’Flynn and Neil Treacy will be reporting from France throughout the tournament.

Back in Donnybrook, the line-up of pundits includes Jamie Heaslip, Simon Zebo, Jerry Flannery, Stephen Ferris, Fiona Coghlan, Bernard Jackman, Donal Lenihan, Darren Cave and Hannah Tyrrell, although if Tyrrell brings all her sporting gongs with her – the latest an All Ireland medal from Dublin’s win over Kerry last Sunday – there won’t be room for anyone else on the couch.

Over at Virgin Media, Joe Molloy will be the master of ceremonies, accompanied by Rob Kearney, Matt Williams, Andrew Trimble, Fiona Hayes, Grace Davitt, Eimear Considine and Ian Madigan. Dave McIntyre will be the chief commentator, with Alan Quinlan alongside him, while Tommy Martin will be pitchside in France.

ITV is another viewing option, if you haven’t enough already, the channel showing all 48 games live and hiring half the planet’s retired rugby players and coaches for their coverage – among them Brian O’Driscoll, Jonny Wilkinson, Michael Lynagh, Maggie Alphonsi, Lawrence Dallaglio, Sean Fitzpatrick, Benjamin Kayser, Ian McGeechan and everyone’s favourite, Clive Woodward.

So, buckle in, prepare for a feast of (free) rugby, and, if the Gods smile upon us, a cure for quarter-final-itis.

TV schedule for Ireland’s matches

Ireland v Romania, 2.30, Saturday, September 9 – Virgin Media

Ireland v Tonga, 8.0, Saturday, September 16 – RTÉ

Ireland v South Africa, 8.0, Saturday, September 23 – RTÉ

Ireland v Scotland, Saturday, 8.0, October 7 – Virgin Media

*If Ireland reach the quarterfinals, Virgin Media will cover the game, and if they make it to the semi-finals, RTÉ will take over. Both channels will broadcast the final.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times