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Licence holders in Scotland: key considerations ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2019

The Rugby World Cup is being staged this year in Japan. Matches are between Friday 20 September and Saturday 2 November, so there is just under 8 weeks of rugby.

Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales have all qualified and are some of the favourites to make it to the latter stages of the tournament. As such, there is likely to be a growing interest from customers as the tournament progresses.

Japan is 9 hours ahead of the UK, so matches kick off in the mornings, between 5:45am and 11:45am. Luckily the home nations’ matches tend to be scheduled from around 8.45am or later, but there may be some additional considerations around opening hours and the conditions of your licence.   

What permissions do you need to show the rugby without selling alcohol?

The rugby will be shown on ITV, so there is no need to obtain a Sky or BT subscription to show it. ITV is a free to air channel, so there is no fee due to them directly provided you have your TV Licence.

You must have "televised sport" as an activity in your premises licence operating plan.  If you do not intend to apply for extended hours to permit the sale of alcohol then televised sport needs to be permitted outwith core hours.  Furthermore if you are not intending to apply for extended hours you may need a temporary public entertainment licence (you should urgently seek specialist advice in this respect).

Given that there will be music between matches and in advert breaks etc, you will likely need to ensure that you have the correct PRS/PPL permission.

What if I want to do breakfasts as well without selling alcohol?

As above, selling food and soft/hot drinks is covered in your premises licence and you will need either bar meals or restaurant facilities to be permitted outwith licensed hours in your operating plan. If you have this permission you are entitled to open and you can provide breakfasts and coffee etc to the early morning viewers.  If not then again you may need to apply for extended hours explaining that whilst there will be no sale of alcohol, an extended hours certificate is required to authorise an earlier commencement hour for restaurant facilities / bar meals.

What if my hours of opening do not allow me to open that early and I do not have televised sport or bar meals/ restaurant facilities permitted outwith core hours?

Opening earlier, even without the sale of alcohol may be in breach of your licence. As such, it would be best to seek an extended hours certificate to allow you to open earlier in order to show the matches.

What about selling alcohol during the matches?

Assuming you do not have core licensed on-sales hours commencing early in the morning then you will need to apply for extended hours to show the matches (as set out above, with insufficient time for a major variation application to be considered, you may need extended hours even to permit the non-alcohol based activities).

Do not be tempted to sell the odd pint of ale early, however, as officers have been known to do checks, especially where premises are advertising they are showing the World Cup. This could lead to a licence review and/or prosecution.

When would I need to apply for the permissions?

The World Cup starts in late September, and with applications to vary a premises licence taking several months the only viable option at this stage is to apply for extended hours.  Most Boards will require something in the order of 4- 6 weeks' notice so time is running out.

If you wish to show the sport without the sale of alcohol and need to apply for a temporary public entertainment licence apply ASAP.  Most Councils will require something in the order of 6 – 8 weeks' notice so time is running out.


Should you want to look at making an application, or want to discuss anything in this note, please feel free to call one of our licensing team.

Format of the tournament and key games

The tournament is based around 4 pools of 5 teams each, with the top 2 teams qualifying for the knockout stages. The knockout stages begin with the quarter finals on the weekend of 19 and 20 October (8.15 and 11.15 kick off times). Quarter finals will be held the weekend of 26 and 27 October (8.15 and 11.15 kick off times). Third place play-off will be held Friday 1 November at 9am and the final on Saturday 2 November, which will also kick off at 9am.

Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales matches

The pool matches for the home nations are:

  • Scotland V Ireland         Sunday 22 September 8:45am
  • England V Tonga          Sunday 22 September 11:15am
  • Wales V Georgia           Monday 23 September 11:15am
  • England V USA             Thursday 26 September 11:45am
  • Japan V Ireland             Saturday 28 September  8.15 am
  • Wales V Australia          Sunday 29 September 8:45am
  • Scotland V Samoa        Monday 30 September 11:15am
  • Ireland V Russia            Thursday 3 October 11:15 am
  • England V Argentina      Saturday 5 October 9:00am
  • Scotland V Russia         Wednesday 9 October 8:15am
  • Wales V Fiji                   Wednesday 9 October 10:45am
  • England V France          Saturday 12 October 9:15am
  • Ireland V Samoa            Saturday 12 October 11:45am
  • Wales V Uruguay           Sunday 13 October 9:15am
  • Scotland V Japan          Sunday 13 October 11:45am

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions.

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