Sky Sports will show the final qualifiers for the Rugby League World Cup and the whole of next year's tournament, exclusively live.
Under the agreement with the Rugby League World Cup organisers, Sky Sports will show, across the United Kingdom and Ireland:
· THE RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP: All 18 matches from next year's tournament exclusively live. With 10 nations competing in Australia every match - from the group and knock-out stages, including both semis and the final - will be live on Sky Sports.
· THE FINAL QUALIFYING MATCHES: Over 10 days this November, six nations will compete in five live matches to determine the last three places in the World Cup finals.
The qualifying matches will be played in the United Kingdom from Friday 2 November to Wednesday 14 November 2007 and feature Scotland, Ireland and Wales - competing to join England at next year's finals - as well as Lebanon, Samoa and the USA.
Up to three teams from the UK and Ireland could be in the tournament; should Ireland, Scotland or Wales qualify they would be placed in a Group with France and Fiji or with Tonga.
The Rugby League World Cup finals will be staged in Australia from Saturday 25 October to Saturday 22 November 2008. England will play Papua New Guinea in their opening match before facing Australia and New Zealand.
Announcing the coverage, Vic Wakeling, Managing Director, Sky Sports, said: "After the outstanding success of the Super League play-offs in recent weeks, we are delighted to be able to offer even more top-class rugby league. The format of the competition guarantees some fiercely competitive games with England taking on the might of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea - and it will be fascinating to see how the smaller nations fare in the other groups. We should get an early pointer on their chances, of course, when we cover next month's five qualifiers live on Sky Sports."
The World Cup Tournament Director, Mr Colin Love AM, said; "The interest building around the tournament is phenomenal. With the schedule of matches now released, the final qualifying games only weeks away and tickets due to go on sale in a matter of weeks, there is a real sense of excitement. The partnership between the Rugby League World Cup and Sky Sports is of enormous significance; not only do they take the competition to an incredibly wide audience but their ability to capture the drama and excitement of major sport is respected throughout the world."
The 2008 Tournament will be the 13th Rugby League World Cup. Australia are the current holders, winning their ninth title, and their sixth in succession, in 2000. England have twice been runners-up, in 1975 and 1995. A combined Great Britain team was victorious in the first World Cup in 1954, again in 1960 and, most recently, in 1972.
Sky Sports presenter Mike Stephenson, who won the World Cup with Great Britain in 1972, said: "It's an absolute privilege that once again I can be involved in a World Cup competition as a broadcaster. It brings back tremendous memories of scoring the try that enabled us to lift the World Cup in 1972. In any sport to be classified as a Champion of the World is the pinnacle of any player's career and I am sure the players from the Home Nations will be thrilled to be participating in Australia."
Sky Sports broadcast more than 90 live games a year from the Super League, National League and international matches. The engage Super League Grand Final between St Helens and Leeds is exclusively live on Saturday 13 October from 6pm, on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD1. This season, matches have been shown live in HD, on mobile phones and on PC via broadband, for the first time.
|Rugby League World Cup on Sky Sports|
|NOVEMBER 2007 - Qualifiers|
|Friday 2||Lebanon v Ireland * (7.30pm)||Dewsbury|
|Sunday 4||Scotland v Wales (2pm )||Glasgow|
USA vs Samoa (5.45pm)
Lebanon/Ireland v Scotland/Wales (8pm)
|Wednesday 14||Final (7.30pm)||Featherstone|
|Saturday 25||England vs Papua New Guinea||Townsville|
|Sunday 26||Euro Qualifier 2 v France||Canberra|
|Sunday 26||Australia v New Zealand||Sydney|
|Monday 27||Tonga v Euro Qualifier 1||Parramatta|
|Friday 31||Repechage Winner v Tonga||Penrith|
|Saturday 1||Fiji v France||Wollongong|
|Saturday 1||New Zealand v PNG||Gold Coast|
|Sunday 2||Australia v England||Melbourne|
|Wednesday 5||Euro Qualifier 2 v Fiji||Central Coast|
|Wednesday 5||Euro Qualifier 1 v Repechage||Parramatta|
|Saturday 8||Pool 2 (Team 2) v Pool 3 (Team 2)||Rockhampton|
|Saturday 8||England v New Zealand||Newcastle|
|Sunday 9||Pool 2 (Team 3) v Pool 3 (Team 3)||Penrith|
|Sunday 9||Papua New Guinea v Australia||Townsville|
|Monday 10||Pool 2 (Team 1) v Pool 3 (Team 1)||Gold Coast|
|Saturday 15||Semi Final (1)||Brisbane|
|Sunday 16||Semi Final (2)||Sydney|
* Subject to the result with Russia