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Lions coverage returns to British terrestrial TV for first time since 1993

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Live coverage of the British and Irish Lions will return to terrestrial television in Britain for the first time in nearly 30 years with Channel 4’s broadcast of the June 26 1888 Cup against Japan at Murrayfield.


In addition to live coverage of the pre-tour Test match against the Japanese, Channel 4 will also show highlights of all three Tests against South Africa.

While Sky Sports will broadcast all eight games in South Africa live, this will be the first time the Lions have been on terrestrial television since the 1993 tour of New Zealand and highlights of all Castle Lager Lions series tour matches will be shown on All4.

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The crazy reaction on the RugbyPass Fanzone to the 2021 Lions squad announcement
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The crazy reaction on the RugbyPass Fanzone to the 2021 Lions squad announcement

The Lions is the latest coup for Channel 4 Sport which earlier this year brought free-to-air live Test cricket back to television screens after a 16-year break with its coverage of England’s tour in India.

British and Irish Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: “We are delighted that Channel 4 are our broadcast partners for our first match on home soil since 2005. I’m looking forward to the excellent coverage and analysis that Channel 4 will no doubt provide and going on the recent squad announcement I’m sure the interest and numbers tuning in will be considerable for this clash.”

Pete Andrews, Channel 4’s head of sport, added: “This is set to be a mouth-watering contest with Alun Wyn Jones leading the Lions against the reigning world champions. It’s fantastic news for rugby fans who will relish the opportunity of seeing the British and Irish Lions in action on free-to-air television.”


Presented by Lee McKenzie, the Lions matches are the latest addition to Channel 4’s rugby portfolio which includes live coverage of the Heineken Champions Cup final between La Rochelle and Toulouse on May 22 and live coverage of Ireland’s autumn internationals against the All Blacks and Argentina.


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