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european rugby champions cup

BT and Sky have reached a principle arrangement regarding coverage of the new European Rugby Champions Cup, after an agreement was reached by the sport's various governing bodies over the new competition, which will replace the Heineken Cup from next season.

The nine key stakeholders have collectively agreed to introduce the European Rugby Champions Cup in place of the Heineken Cup from the 2014/15 season, becoming the sport's premier continental club trophy.

It will be one of three cross-border competitions that take place each year, along with the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new competition known as the Qualifying Competition.

The eight-year deal was also accompanied by the announcement that a new association will also be established in Switzerland known as European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which will be responsible for organising and managing the cup competitions, and replace the existing European Rugby Cup (ERC).

Now that the format has been decided, BT and Sky have come to an agreement over how to share the broadcasting rights, with the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup jointly screened by the rivals.

The pool matches are set to be shared equally by Sky Sports and BT Sport, with each broadcaster screening two quarter-finals each, one semi-final each, and both screening the final live for the next four years.

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, commented: "This is a good day for rugby. The agreement offers clarity for European rugby and enables the clubs to plan for the future."

Simon Green, Director of BT Sport, said it is "fantastic news" for rugby fans that a deal could be reached between the two companies.

He added: "The game of rugby had to come first and both companies have recognised that by showing a high degree of maturity and flexibility."

The new deal will come into place later this year, at the beginning of the 2014/15 European rugby season.

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