World Rugby has announced the renewal of its long-standing partnership with TF1 for Rugby World Cup 2019.

The French broadcasting rights are among the highest-rating in the Rugby World Cup portfolio and both partners are delighted to have concluded an agreement that reflects the tournament’s status as a premium must-see event.

The announcement extends a partnership with TF1 that began in 1991 and has seen six tournaments broadcast and continues strong commercial momentum ahead of Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.

France is one of the world’s biggest rugby broadcast markets and was a driving-force behind record broadcast growth during Rugby World Cup 2015 which saw the live audience increase by 48 per cent to 479 million, while live audiences in Europe increased by 75 per cent.

World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Rugby World Cup and TF1 have enjoyed a long and highly-successful partnership, generating record audience viewing figures. This deal will generate significant momentum in France, not just in 2019, but beyond to France 2023, while delivering a significant financial outcome for the ongoing development of the sport.

“Securing deals with major free-to-air broadcasters who are passionate about sport is central to World Rugby’s mission to make rugby accessible in a global context. With each Rugby World Cup we are broadening the sport’s reach and appeal through a broadcast and digital strategy that is aimed at reaching, engaging and inspiring new audiences within existing and emerging rugby markets.”

TF1’s audience for the Rugby World Cup 2015 final averaged 8.8 million, a 54 per cent audience share, while the broadcaster’s audience for the 2011 final involving France was 17.8 million, a huge 87 per cent audience share.

Chairman and CEO of the TF1 group Gilles Pélisson said: “We are proud and delighted to offer French viewers free-to-air coverage of this incredible event. This is a golden era for French sport and following the world-title success of France’s handball teams and the forthcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup, TF1 is delighted to be expanding its rights portfolio with Rugby World Cup 2019.

“This further demonstrates our commitment to rugby and Rugby World Cup and our capacity to deliver the best programmes and the biggest events. TF1 continues to provide a strong link between our national teams and the French public.”