New Six Nation rights deal set to kick-off bidding war that could put rugby behind paywall

Speculation mounting that broadcast rights could be bundled with new tournament and sold to highest bidder

The Ireland rugby team celebrates winning the Grand Slam earlier this year

Speculation is growing that the broadcast rights to the Six Nations could be bundled with a new international tournament and sold to the highest bidder, putting more top level rugby on subscription channels.

In Britain, the BBC and ITV – which share the rights in a similar set-up to RTÉ and Virgin Media in Ireland – have admitted that they may no longer be able to afford to keep matches free to air.

Barbara Slater, ...