How many games will be available free?

Fourteen of the 48 Rugby World Cup matches will be available free, including all of the All Blacks' games.

Twelve games will screen free-to-air on TVNZ 1 (see the full list below) and available free-to-stream on Spark Sport.

There will be a number of games on a one-hour delay, with no ads inserted (or at least, none beyond those in Spark Sport's live coverage).

The one-hour delay games will include all of of the All Blacks pool games and the AB's presumed quarter-final.


TVNZ and Spark Sport's freebie stream will also carry four pool games live, plus both semis and the final live.

A further two games will be free-to-stream via Spark Sport only.

Here's the full line-up of free matches:

Free-to-air on TVNZ 1 and streamed on Spark Sport free-to-view

• Fri Sept 20 / Pool A (opening match) / Japan v Russia / LIVE

• Sat Sept 21 / Pool B, NZ v South Africa / Delayed 1 hour

• Sat Sept 28 / Pool C, Tonga v Argentina / LIVE

• Wed Oct 2 / Pool B, Match 20 / NZ v Canada / Delayed 1 hour

• Fri Oct 4 / Pool B, South Africa v Italy / LIVE


• Sun Oct 6 / Pool B, NZ v Namibia / Delayed 1 hour

• Wed Oct 9 / Pool D, Fiji v Wales / LIVE

• Sat Oct 12 / Pool B, Match 34 / NZ v Italy / Delayed 1 hour

• One quarter final: TBC, but will be the NZ match, assuming progression / Delayed 1 hour

• Sat Oct 26 / Semi-final / LIVE

• Sun Oct 27 / Semi-final / LIVE


• Sat 2 Nov 2 / Final and medal ceremony / LIVE

Matches streamed on Spark Sport free-to-view

• Wed Sept 25 / Pool D, Fiji v Uruguay / Delayed 2 hours

• Mon Sept 30 / Pool A, Scotland v Samoa / Delayed 2 hours

How do I watch all games?

Spark Sport will be the only way to watch all 48 games live (and it will also offer on-demand replay options).

What happens if things go south?

Spark and its partners have done a lot of preparation, but streaming technology is still in its relatively early days and things do sometimes go wrong, as with Optus' attempt to stream the 2018 FIFA World Cup, or Amazon's recent wobbles with the US Open.

If things do go south, then Spark promises to transfer an affected game to TVNZ's Duke channel (Freeview 13 or Sky 23) "within minutes". Handily, Duke has just been upgraded to HD (high definition).


How does a novice like Spark handle production and commentary?

TVNZ isn't just Spark's safety-net and free-to-air vehicle.

The state-owned broadcaster is also handling nearly every aspect of traditional production. TVNZ is managing the analysis and commentary team (led by Sky exile Scotty "Sumo" Stevenson), and the likes of graphics and mid and post-game analysis, which will be filmed, in part, at a purpose-built studio at TVNZ. Whether you're watching via Spark Sport or TVNZ, you'll see the same pictures, graphics and talking heads.

What if I'm in a rural area with bad broadband - or anywhere with bad internet?

Spark has acknowledged that around 40,000 rural households just don't have good enough internet to stream the Rugby World Cup.

The telco-turned-broadcaster has made three moves to help soften the blow.

It's made its Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass available to pubs and clubs at its household rate of $90 (usually commercial premises have to pay thousands to show a big event).

It's partnered with Sky to offer a Sky Sport Rugby World Cup pop-up channel for commercial premises, so they don't have to worry about getting streaming setup (like the cut-pricing, this should help ensure that lots of pubs and clubs show matches).


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And Spark has made its Tournament Pass available free to schools, which in turn can offer the community viewing. More than 150 have signed up so far, with an emphasis on rural schools (which often have ultrafast fibre).

Unfortunately, Spark has not put a list of schools online

What if I need help with streaming?

Spark is offering a service whereby a technician will come to your home and set you up for streaming - for $149. Several retailers are offering the same service (see links here).

And the Herald has put together an "Idiot's guide to streaming" that is heavy on World Cup how-tos, including the gear you need to watch the RWC on a regular telly.

Spark said today, "The simplest option for viewing the RWC is to watch on a compatible Smart TV. Spark Sport is available as an app on 2017 or newer Samsung, Panasonic and Sony Android Smart TVs or 2019 model LG Smart TVs. Users can simply download the Spark Sport app from their TVs app store and with a few clicks of the remote they'll be streaming the rugby without the need for a secondary remote."


But if you're not of a mind to buy a new telly, there are a number of cheaper options, detailed here.

Personally, I've turned my dumb TV into a smart TV for Spark Sport viewing using a $139 Freeview SmartVu widget.

What other ways are there to follow RWC action?

Radio Sport (part of the NZME stable that includes the NZ Herald) is the official radio broadcaster for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Radio Sport's Nigel Yalden will be in Japan to commentate all of New Zealand's games live.

Live commentaries will also be on NewstalkZB.

And the Herald will have half-a-dozen people on the ground in Japan and carry live-blogs, analysis, interactive player ratings and more.

NZME is even bringing back Buck as part of a star-studded panel.

Radio Sport's commentator Nigel Yalden. Photo / Peter Meecham
Radio Sport's commentator Nigel Yalden. Photo / Peter Meecham

And a bonus, if you go old-school with radio or a live-blog, you'll be ahead of the play - for Spark Spork's RWC stream will be up to 40 seconds behind the action due to the time taken to encode the video for multiple devices, then get it from Japan to NZ to the US home of Spark's streaming partner iStreamPlanet then back to NZ via Spark's content delivery network partner Akamai).