The Six Nations has agreed a deal with private investment house CVC to take a 14.3 percent stake in the business over the next five years.
The deal will be worth almost €56 million to the IRFU.
The partnership is being framed to further develop the Men's, Women's, and Under 20's championships and the Autumn internationals for the benefit of players, fans, and the wider rugby community over the long-term.
One consequence of the agreement is that it increases the likelihood of the Six Nations going behind a paywall.
IRFU CEO Philip Browne has welcomed the deal.
“Today’s announcement, by Six Nations Rugby and CVC, to seek regulatory approval to form a new partnership is very positive news for Irish rugby. If the agreement obtains approval CVC will acquire, over five years, a 1/7th share of the Six Nations tournament.
“Importantly, under the agreement, Unions retain complete control of all sporting matters while all commercial and broadcast decisions, which will benefit from CVC’s commercial and marketing expertise, also requires majority Union approval.
“This deal demonstrates the strength and attraction of the Six Nations Championship, of which Ireland is an integral part, and yet, ironically it serves to highlight the extremely precarious financial situation in which the IRFU currently finds itself because of the Covid pandemic.
"Put in context, today’s announcement comes against the backdrop of record losses for the IRFU in 19/20 of some €36m and similar ongoing significant revenue losses expected this year. In real terms, the initial funds received from this deal will simply deliver the funding required to keep Irish rugby going for little more than a month.
“The real benefit of this agreement will come into effect in future years. As normality resumes, with fans returning to our stadia in significant numbers and clubs and schools recommencing play, we can look forward to investing funds from this CVC deal into the development of our game, from grassroots up to the elite levels for men and women.
“In welcoming CVC to the Six Nations, it would be remiss of me not to mention the on-going support of our sponsors, our patrons, including our ten- and five-year ticketholders, and the vital support we receive from the government. This has been critical to our survival through these torrid times and I thank them all for their long-term commitment to our great game.”