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Irish to tackle the English on 3D screen at Six Nations

THE England rugby team’s two RBS Six Nations matches at Twickenham will be broadcast live in 3D — with Grand Slam winners Ireland due to face Martin Johnson’s side on February 27.

England's match against Wales on February 6 will become Europe's first live 3D sports broadcast, team sponsor O2 announced yesterday.

Fans can watch every crunching tackle and scrum with the latest 3D technology at 40 Odeon and Cineworld cinemas across the UK.

The sophisticated polarised 3D cameras will beam the action directly to the stalls, giving fans the closest experience of the atmosphere inside Twickenham.

This year live 3D broadcasts will become a reality for fans and not just at one-off cinema events, but also in the home.

3D TV is tipped to become the year's must-have gadget — with all of the major TV manufacturers launching 3D sets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week and broadcaster Sky announcing its own 3D service for 2010. Cinemas experienced a boom in 3D film sales last year — with James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar leading the way. Of the 10 major 3D movies released in 2009, four were in the top 10 highest grossing films at the global box office.

Paul Vaughan, Rugby Football Union operations director, said: “This demonstrates that England Rugby has a rich history and an even richer future with exciting new developments such as O2's 3D screenings. I hope rugby fans will pack cinemas across the country.”

O2 customers can book priority tickets to the opening match from January 25 by texting 3D to 2020. Tickets go on sale to general public from January 29 with adult tickets from £12.50.

Live sport being shown in cinemas is certainly not a new development for Northern Ireland with several boxing matches screened down through the years, including bouts featuring Ulster’s own Barry McGuigan, who became World featherweight champion in 1985.

The concept of showing sport in 3D in cinemas has been popular in the USA recently, with baseball in particular regularly featured.

Prior to live sport in 3D in American cinemas, matches were shown in HD. In 2004, when the Boston Red Sox won baseball’s World Series for the first time since 1918, National Amusements screened midweek games in HD.

Some cinemas in the States go all out to create the big match atmosphere by serving hotdogs, peanuts and beer.

Rugby fans are known to enjoy the occasional beer while watching the match, so getting plenty of pumps installed before next month’s action could be a crucial move for cinema chiefs.

Belfast Telegraph