ABs fans might not see Italy match

By Michael Brown

Italy's Mirco Bergamasco is hit hard in the tackle of New Zealand's Isaia Toeava in a 2009 test. Photo / NZPA File
Italy's Mirco Bergamasco is hit hard in the tackle of New Zealand's Isaia Toeava in a 2009 test. Photo / NZPA File

Rugby fans are still in danger of missing out on seeing the All Blacks play Italy next weekend, which would be the first time in the professional era an All Blacks match hasn't been screened live on television.

Sky TV are still locked in negotiations with an international brokerage company negotiating on behalf of the Italy Rugby Union to get the rights to broadcast the match.

They are still hopeful of reaching a deal, not least of all because of the public fallout if they didn't show an All Blacks match live.

Sky TV today released their broadcast schedule for the rest of the year and the All Blacks' match with Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome is conspicuous by its absence.

Sky spokeswoman Kirsty Way said the fee, which Sky base on potential viewership the match brings, was the stumbling point.

"It's certainly fair value for the match,'' Way said. "We are passionate about sport, love the All Blacks and we know our viewers do, too, so we really hope we can bring it to them.

"We don't have the rights secured at the moment but we are still trying. We sincerely hope it happens. It's not a definite no.

"We would have preferred to have had this signed off a month or so ago, and we had the other matches [on tour] a long time ago, but it's not uncommon to do something in the last week or days. We have even done deals on the day of the match as well. We will be trying right up to kick-off to bring the match to our customers.''

Way said the last time the broadcast of an All Blacks match was threatened was during the 2001 end-of-year tour when Telstra Clear acquired the rights but got into difficulty and ended up selling the rights to Sky. She couldn't recall an instance when Sky didn't show an All Blacks match live in the professional era.

Sky are showing only two of the New Zealand Maori's three games on their upcoming northern tour.

The match against Canada at Oxford University on November 23 is not being broadcast by anyone and the terms of opening match against Leicester on November 13 means Sky can't show it until 48 hours afterwards.

Sky announced today they will broadcast live the All Whites' international against China in Shanghai on November 15 (12.30am NZT).

- APNZ

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