Guinness PRO14: Premier Sports confirms opening round plans

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Premier Sports has confirmed its broadcast plans for the opening round of the 2018 Guinness PRO14 season.

In April the pay-TV sports broadcaster signed a landmark three-year deal with PRO14 Rugby to show all 152 games live each season across the UK.

Following the PRO14 fixtures announcement, Premier Sports has now confirmed that they are showing all seven games live from the opening weekend.

Wales will host the opening night of the new Guinness PRO14 season on Friday, 31 August when the first of 152 international club rugby matches take place in Cardiff and Swansea.

The Welsh capital will play host to a clash of European Champions as Challenge Cup winners Cardiff Blues welcome defending PRO14 title holders and Champions Cup winners Leinster to the Cardiff Arms Park, while the other game on Friday night will see Ospreys open the campaign with a visit of Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh, with both matches kicking off Premier Sports’ live coverage for the very first time on their channels.

Round one sees two clashes of former champions when Connacht host Glasgow Warriors, while Scarlets, 2017 title winners and last season’s beaten finalists, travel to Kingspan Stadium to face the 2006 Celtic League winners, Ulster. Munster will take on the Cheetahs while the Cheetahs’ South African compatriots, the Southern Kings start their season in Parma, Italy when they tackle Zebre

Finally, Dragons fans will have high hopes to see what the region can achieve in season two of Bernard Jackman’s tenure as they face a challenging opener against Benetton, who are aiming to build on last season’s record number of wins to make a real push for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

The full fixture list brings derby games early in the season with Scarlets against Ospreys, Dragons facing Cardiff, Leinster against Munster and Ulster versus Connacht all being shown live on Premier Sports over the weekend of 5-6 October.

The festive season brings three more rounds of Derby action across two weekends in December and the first week of January.

These massive fixtures include Ulster’s three derby games against Munster, Connacht and Leinster plus there will be six Welsh derbies and two Scottish derbies across three consecutive rounds.

The only place to see all of these derby games live will be on Premier Sports’ two channels, with an additional one match per week available to watch free-to-air on Free Sports.

Richard Sweeney, CEO of Premier Sports, commented:

“We are really excited about our first season showing every game of the Guinness PRO14. Seeing the initial line-up of mouth-watering fixtures brings the start of the season even closer.

“We will be live at Liberty Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park for the season openers on Friday 31st of August as the Ospreys take on Edinburgh and Cardiff face Leinster.

“Then on Saturday September 1st we will bring our viewers all 5 live games across Premier Sports 1, Premier Sports 2 and our FreeSports channel.

“This is the first time one broadcaster has brought all 152 games under one roof and we look forward to being the new home of Guinness PRO14 in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England.”

Premier Sports have confirmed that planning is advanced for a large marketing campaign to support Premier’s live coverage plus production planning to deliver a great viewing experience for fans. Richard Sweeney added: 

“Preparations for our debut season are very advanced at this stage.  We will be announcing our production partners and our strong line-up of presenters, commentators and analysts in the coming weeks as we build towards the opening weekend.

“The Guinness PRO14 will be the centre piece of our channels and we look forward to putting on the best shows possible.”

This year’s opening round marks a brand new era for the championship where every single game will be broadcast live across the UK by Premier Sports and Free Sports, a true first for the Guinness PRO14.

It has also been confirmed that S4C will continue to broadcast the Guinness PRO14 and the Welsh regions until 2021. One game per round will be screened by S4C, ensuring that Welsh language commentary remains a part of the championship’s coverage.

Entering his 15th season as Tournament Director, David Jordan, said: 

“For the first-time ever we have produced fixtures with Kick-Off times and dates right up to Round 17 which we have never been able to do before. When you consider the planning required around incoming and outbound South African tours, it’s fantastic to have so much of the season mapped out ahead of us at this point.

“Rarely, has there been so much anticipation and excitement ahead of a new season now that we every game live across the UK on Premier Sports fully supported by eir sport & TG4 in Ireland, Super Sport in South Africa and S4C in Wales. Our new broadcast arrangements will drive up the broadcast standards and supporters should rightly get excited by what is to come.”

Premier Sports was founded in 2009 and operates three sports TV channels in the UK. Premier Sports 1 is on Sky channel 412 and Virgin channel 551. Premier Sports 2 is on Sky channel 435 and will launch on Virgin Media in summer 2018.

Free Sports is available free on Sky Channel 422, on Channel 95 on Freeview and BT, Freesat Channel 252 and recently joined Virgin TV as channel 130/55.

Both Premier Sport channels are available on a subscription basis for just £9.99 per month on Sky, Virgin and on the Premier Player. The channels are also available to pubs, clubs and other commercial premises throughout the UK.

Visit pro14rugby.org for a complete list of all the confirmed PRO14 fixtures from rounds 1 to 17.

FRIDAY 31st AUGUST

Cardiff Blues v Leinster
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

19:35

Ospreys v Edinburgh
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

19:35

Zebre v Southern Kings
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

19:35

SATURDAY 1st SEPTEMBER

Connacht v Glasgow Warriors
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

15:00

Ulster v Scarlets
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

17:15

Munster v Cheetahs
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

17:15

Dragons v Benetton
Guinness PRO14: Round 1

19:35

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