Philip Bernie (L) and John Feehan

The RBS 6 Nations championship will be broadcast on the BBC up to and including the 2017 tournament, following a new deal announced today by BBC Sport and the Six Nations Council. The new deal extends BBC Sport’s current contract, as exclusive live broadcaster of the Six Nations, which runs until 2013 and covers TV, radio and online.

This year’s tournament saw audiences increase to their highest level for 13 years, with an average audience of 4.7m per match. This continued the trend of year on year growth and in total over 30m people within the British Isles watched some of this year’s tournament.

BBC Director of Sport, Barabara Slater said: “ The Six Nations is a crown jewel in the sporting calendar and we’re delighted that we can continue to bring the tournament to our audiences. Viewing figures continue to grow year on year and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Six Nations to build interest even further through the BBC’s unparalleled offering of TV, radio, online and interactive services.”

John Feehan, Chief Executive of the RBS 6Nations said: ‘We are delighted that BBC Sport will maintain, extend and enhance its coverage of the RBS 6 Nations, the world’s biggest annual rugby tournament, for a further four years to March 2017. The RBS 6 Nations is a major sporting event combining traditional rugby values with modern means of fans’ support, this could not be possible without the support of BBC Sport, RBS and our other partners and broadcasters,’”