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Pop CultureSeptember 18, 2019

How to watch the Rugby World Cup 2019

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With only a few more sleeps until the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Tara Ward looks at the variety of ways you can watch the tournament from the comfort of your own home.

Set your clocks, sound the alarms and gird your scrum-loving loins for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which kicks off this Friday in Japan. As teams from around the world gather to fight it out for the Webb Ellis Cup, rugby fans in New Zealand are facing a epic struggle of their own: how do we actually watch the games?

If the All Blacks are fierce warriors about to go into battle, then we hapless viewers at home are Dad’s Army. It’s a technological minefield out there. Where do we turn, and who can we trust? Free to air, or pay per view? Live stream or delayed? TV or app? Or should we just slather ourselves in Deep Heat and hope for the best?

So many questions, so little time, so let’s put on our short shorts, tape our ears back and get our hammy fists around all the RWC viewing options.

Where to watch: free-to-air vs pay per view

Free: TVNZ1

If the thought of paying cold hard cash to watch the national game fills you with simmering rage, or even worse, your internet’s a bit shit, then TVNZ1 is your best/only option. TVNZ1 will screen 12 games free-to-air, including every All Black game and other notable matches, like Fiji vs Wales, and Tonga vs Argentina.

New Zealand’s games will be delayed by one hour, but the good news is that the semi finals and finals will be live.

Pay: Spark Sport

Spark Sport won the rights to stream the RWC in Aotearoa, so you’ll need to buy a RWC Tournament Pass ($89.99) if you want to see all 48 matches. This gives you access to every match live and on-demand, as well as archive footage, interviews with former players and coaches, and pre- and post-match highlights. It’s the mother lode of RWC content, with an intriguing coverage team that includes both Sir Graham Henry and Dame Anika Moa.

Alternatively, you can buy a Rugby World Cup Match Pass ($24.99, available from September 20). This gives you access to a single game of your choice, which you can also watch on-demand for 30 days.

If you’re already a Spark Sport subscriber, you’ll still need to buy a RWC pass to watch the tournament. Either way, signing up is easy. Click on the green ‘Sign Up’ button on the top right of Spark Sport’s website, enter your details, and select the Pass you want.

What technology do I need?


It’s time to go old school and turn on TVNZ1, as matches won’t be available on TVNZ OnDemand or via live streaming. If you currently watch TVNZ1 on a TV connected by an aerial, Sky or Freeview, you shouldn’t have any problems. If your set-up is a bit different or you’ve no idea how to tame the technical TV beast, this video will help.

Spark Sport

Basically, you need a Smart TV or an internet enabled device (laptop, desktop computer, smartphone, tablet, Apple TV or Chromecast) to stream the games. You’ll also need a fast internet connection, ideally fibre or VDSL.

Spark Sport has a full list of compatible devices, but here’s the low down on the show down:

Small screen options

Watching on your phone or tablet? Download the Spark Sport app from the App Store or Google Play, which works on iOS 10 and above and Android 5.0 and above.

You can also stream on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop via the Spark Sports website.

Big screen energy

If you’ve got a Samsung Smart TV (2017+), then your TV should either be preloaded or be able to download the official Spark Sport app. Selected Sony, Panasonic and LG smart TVs (2017+) can also download the app.

You can make your TV smart by connecting an HDMI cable (from $3) from your laptop to your TV, although Spark suggest you do a trial run before kick-off to make sure it works.

A Chromecast ($50-$110) plugs into the HDMI port on your TV, and uses your home Wifi to stream content from your device to your TV. Choose the Chromecast option on the app, and cast the game straight to your TV.

The Spark Sports app is also available for Generation 4 Apple TV users, and instructions for downloading are here. There’s also a couple of ways to download the app for Freeview devices, including the Freeview SmartVU and the Freeview A2 recorder.

I still don’t get it

Turn on the radio.

Keep going!