The 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup from New Zealand begins on Sept. 9 and runs through October 23, 2011. NBC and Universal Sports announced last year they secured distribution rights to all 48 matches of the World Cup. However, not all matches will be broadcast on television here in the U.S. and not all will be broadcast live. Universal Sports will be your best bet to watch live matches for free. NBC will also broadcast several matches for free the same day but delayed.
If you want access to the whole tournament you’ll have to buy an online subscription at Universalsports.com for $149.99. You might consider hooking up your PC to your TV so you can have friends over to watch, although don’t expect amazing upscaling quality from the streams. Here’s the confusing part though — seven of the live matches broadcast on Universal Sports won’t be available live online (see list below).
If you don’t want to buy the entire tournament (which fans out to be a few bucks per match) you can purchase matches individually from your TV provider or from Universalsports.com for $24.99 each. Individual knockout stage matches are a bit more at $29.99 each.
For higher quality broadcasts, Universal Sports says the only way to watch the matches in HD is through DIRECTV HD PPV channel at $34.99 a pop.
Here’s the TV broadcast schedule for the 2011 Rugby World Cup: