Channel Seven has won the television rights to the Rugby League World Cup in 2017
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Phil Rothfield ExclusiveThe Daily Telegraph
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CHANNEL Seven has snuck under the guard of Channel Nine and Fox Sports to secure the television rights for the upcoming rugby league World Cup in Australia next year.
And there are plans to launch the tournament in Melbourne on Derby Day at Flemington with a Kangaroos-England blockbuster at the MCG two hours after the last race.
Channel Seven is believed to have paid almost $10 million for the Australian rights. The networks highly respected sports news director Jim Wilson is certain to host the tournament.
Now they have to find some commentators, with most already aligned to Nine and Fox Sports on five year contracts.
The rights were owned by the International Rugby League Federation and sold to IMG to carry out a tender process with Australias TV networks and world broadcasters.
The tournament will be played over five weeks starting in the last weekend of October.
Seven will show the big matches on their main free-to-air channel and minor games on their digital on 7mate.
World Cup tournament director Michael brown has revealed every state and territory in Australia has been bidding to host games.
Greg Inglis and Paul Gallen with the World Cup trophy. Picture Gregg Porteous
Were looking to achieve a good spread of matches right across the country including venues like Adelaide Oval, Brown said, Its a fantastic opportunity to grow the game.
Youll end the NRL season in early October, have a few weeks rest, then the World Cup is on.
Were anticipating enormous interest and thats why Channel Seven wanted the rights.
Brown said Seven were keen bidders from the beginning of negotiations.
We spoke to our partners at Nine and Fox Sports but we always knew seven wanted it, Brown said, It was a tender process and they were the keenest.
It is a great result for rugby league to have the game on three networks next year.
It gives us another reach and its on an AFL channel. It shows the dominance of our game