You could use a VPN (virtual private network service) to watch the Rugby World Cup for free, another media organisation helpfully suggests with a guest op-ed.

I'd say: give it a miss.

If you're a hardcore rugby fan, don't risk a VPN. Just pay Spark Sport its $60 earlybird rate for full access to every game. It's not an extortionate sum, as these things go.


If you're a fairweather fan, catch the AB's pool games and quarterfinals on a one-hour delay and the semis and final free and live on TVNZ.

You want a smooth livestream for the RWC action. When I think VPNs, I think slow and patchy at times - even the ones you have to pay for. If you're in an area with dodgy broadband, a VPN will only make it worse. If you're in an area with good broadband, a VPN might make it seem like you're in the middle of the Remutakas.

And although it's tricky to block VPNs, Netflix - once it was finally nudged to clamp down - proved it could be done reasonably effectively, especially for non-technical viewers.

Yes, it can be a bit Whac-a-Mole, with new VPN servers quickly emerging to replace those that have been blocked. If you're following a series by VPN, it's annoying but no huge hassle to wait a bit for your VPN service to recalibrate. If you're watching a live game, then waiting a few minutes, or hours, is a non-starter.

A so-called "Kodi" set-top box can give you a better experience, but note successful legal action has been taken against two of the resellers of this kit. You don't want to get caught up in that.

Lastly, don't be a dick. Spark has put itself out on a limb with its bid to stream the RwC live.

Some at the company - okay, its boss - might see me as too negative about Spark Sport. But it's tough love. I want streaming to succeed for more and better coverage of sport, whether it's Spark Sport or a rejuvenated Sky TV Fan Pass.

That'll be good for providing funds to keep our top teams internationally competitive, and good for fans. Get in behind it.