Sky Sports in contention to land Japan-England TV rights as RFU scrambles to secure deal

England head coach Steve Borthwick looks on during an England Training session at Pennyhill Park on May 29, 2024 in Bagshot, England

Sky Sports has discussed a late swoop to secure the rights for England against Japan as the Rugby Football Union scrambles to secure an 11th-hour broadcast deal for next month’s reunion with Eddie Jones.

Broadcasters have yet to reach any agreement as they discuss various renewals with the governing body, but there is growing hope a deal could be struck within the next week. With the match in Tokyo just three weeks away, fears had been mounting that the June 22 match would become the first men’s Test in decades not to be screened by a traditional broadcaster.

One last resort option for the RFU would have been to stream the fixture via its own channels. However, Sky Sports is known to have been among broadcasters still open to showing the fixture. The broadcaster is already broadcasting England’s two Tests against New Zealand in July so it appears a natural fit to add the Japan fixture to its offering.

There is an expectation, like plans for the other southern hemisphere fixtures, that commentary and analysis would be conducted remotely.

The RFU is understood to have spoken to other broadcasters but the BBC and ITV will be covering the Euro 2024 football tournament at the time of the game.

Six Nations, World Cup, tour games and autumn Internationals have all been televised during England’s history since the sport turned professional. In 2021, Channel 4 showed England’s summer fixtures at Twickenham against the United States and Canada, signing a one-off deal at a time when they broadcast some Champions Cup matches.

The RFU has previously assured fans it will secure arrangements to make sure they can watch the Japan fixture. Japan coach Jones, who led England to the 2019 World Cup final before being fired three years later, has said he is raring to lock horns with his former team.  Jones has set Japan a target of reaching the World Cup semi-finals for the first time at the 2027 tournament in Australia.

“We know what they’ll bring,” he said this week of England. “They’ll bring a strong kicking game, strong set-piece game. It’s going to be a great challenge for us to play against them, and we’re going to have to play really well. But you never know what can happen on a hot day in Tokyo.”

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