ESPN buys rugby site Scrum.com

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NEW YORK -- Just in time for the Rugby World Cup, ESPN said Tuesday that it has acquired Scrum.com, a 10-year-old Web site that serves fans of the rough and tumble sport.

Terms of the deal with Scrum Ltd. were not announced.

The acquisition gives ESPN a foothold in the increasingly popular world of rugby, though the network doesn't carry the rights to broadcast the World Cup in North America. (That belongs to DirecTV and Versus.)

European ESPN viewers will have access to previous Rugby World Cup matches on ESPN Classic. It does have rights agreements with the European Rugby Cup to televise the Heineken Cup through 2010 in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and North Africa. In Latin America, ESPN will air the Heineken Cup plus the 2007 and 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup.

Scrum.com was started by U.K. media company EMAP in 1997 and became part of Sportal, a worldwide sports company, in 1999. Scrum was saved after the closure of Sportal in 2001 and has been by a group of rugby fans ever since.

"Under the new ownership, Scrum.com expects to go from strength to strength, and the 2007 Rugby World Cup is a great platform from which to showcase our content to a global audience," senior editor Graham Jenkins said on Scrum's site.
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