Sky Sports has won the exclusive rights to broadcast rugby unions premier club tournament, the Heineken Cup, across the UK.
A three year deal with the ERC gives Sky Sports live coverage of the Heineken Cup and Parker Pen Challenge Cup in seasons 2003/04, 2004/05 and 2005/06.
This seasons Heineken Cup kicks-off in December and Sky Sports will cover at least three live ties from each weekend of the tournament, plus both semi finals and the final. All other games will be covered in a special highlights programme.
From the Parker Pen Challenge Cup the final and the two semi finals will be live and exclusive on Sky Sports.
Welcoming the deal, Derek McGrath, Chief Executive of ERC, said This is great news for the 56 clubs across eight countries who compete in our two main tournaments and for rugby fans throughout the UK.
Jean Pierre Lux, Chairman of ERC, added: This is an exciting year of rugby with the World cup taking place in Australia and many of the games biggest names will be returning to Europe at the end of November to take part in the Heineken Cup.
Vic Wakeling, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: The Heineken Cup will be even bigger this season, coming so quickly after what should be a successful World Cup. It is the Champions League of rugby Union, and we shall treat it as such in both coverage and promotion. Our commitment is for at least three live matches per weekend, but when we look at the fixtures for that first weekend, we find ourselves very tempted to do more.