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How to watch and live stream rugby union in the US

We have the lowdown on how to watch this increasingly popular sport online.

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Rugby union has a rich and interesting history in the US. The sport had a strong following throughout the 19th century and the US won the gold medal at the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. It has since been overshadowed by the popularity of American football but remains strong in the college system with a loyal following.

The US is competitive in rugby sevens, while the introduction of Major League Rugby is a real shot in the arm. A fully professional competition, MLR will feature 13 teams in 2021 — 12 in the US and one in Canada, the Toronto Arrows.

How to watch rugby union in the US

You have two main options when it comes to watching rugby in the US: ESPN+ and NBC Sports.

ESPN+ allows you to watch the cream of the southern hemisphere competitions: The Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, Currie Cup (South Africa), Mitre 10 Cup (New Zealand) and the National Rugby Championship (Australia). ESPN+ is also home to Europe’s Pro 14, USA’s Major League Rugby and the crucial Test matches.

However, NBC Sports is a strong option for fans of northern hemisphere rugby. It holds the rights to the European Rugby Champions Cup, European Rugby Challenge Cup, Six Nations and England’s Premiership. It also holds the major drawcard of the 2023 men’s Rugby World Cup and 2021 women’s Rugby World Cup as well as the 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens and the annual under-20 World Championship.

Stream rugby union on ESPN+

ESPN+ is your best option for watching southern hemisphere rugby. Launched by Disney in 2018, ESPN+ is a streaming service intended as a complement to the traditional network, rather than a replacement. It has exclusive live content, original documentaries and an extensive archive.

It doesn’t have the content already available on ESPN, but it does have access to live action and evergreen offerings you won’t find anywhere else.

You can get ESPN+ for $5.99 a month or $49.99 for an annual subscription. There are no lock-in contracts and you can cancel your subscription at any time. Alternatively, you can opt for ESPN+ as part of The Disney Bundle for $12.99 a month, which also gives you access to Disney+ and Hulu.

Stream rugby on ESPN+

Get access to the likes of Major League Rugby, Super Rugby, The Rugby Championship and more on ESPN+.

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on ESPN+'s secure site

Bundle ESPN+ with Hulu and Disney+

Get three streaming services and save with the Disney+ bundle package.

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on Disney's secure site

Rugby live streams on NBC Sports

NBC Sports Gold is your best option for watching northern hemisphere rugby and major World Rugby tournaments. It offers live and on-demand streaming for several professional sports, including rugby, plus on-the-go watching and exclusive content.

However, NBC Sports Gold is in the process of shifting over to its newer streaming platform, Peacock. Peacock Premium is now your go-to destination for watching the 2020/21 Premiership season, the Six Nations, World Rugby’s sevens series plus rugby sevens at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

How to watch the Rugby World Cup in the US

NBC Sports has the rights to the 2021 women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the 2023 men’s Rugby World Cup in France.

The US has qualified for eight of the nine men’s RWC’s to date, only missing the 1995 tournament in South Africa. The US is yet to progress out of the pool stages but has won three games (1987, 2003 and 2011).

The US Eagles women’s team has been much more successful. They won the 1991 women’s RWC and finished runners-up in 1994 and 1998.

Watch international rugby union in the US

ESPN+ is your home for most major international rugby Test matches, excluding World Cups and the Six Nations. You’ll be able to watch the Rugby Championship (Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa) as well as the mid-year and end-of-year tour matches when the northern and southern hemisphere heavyweights square off.

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