Sports media group ESPN has furthered its international growth plans with the purchase of rugby site Scrum.com.

The company, which is attempting to expand beyond American sports and attract a more global audience, has acquired the former Emap-owned site from parent company Scrum Ltd.

In a nicely timed move for next month’s Rugby World Cup, Scrum.com will join ESPNsoccernet.com and Cricinfo.com in ESPN’s internet line up. It bought Cricinfo, the world’s largest specialist cricket site, in June.

Scrum.com, launched by Emap in 1997, has changed ownership several times. It says it attracts around 500,000 readers each month during the peak of the rugby season.

Its investors include commentator and former British Lions player John Taylor and former Wales captain Rob Jones.

Lynne Frank, MD of ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:

“We now offer sports fans world class online coverage of the top three sports in many of our markets. We are particularly delighted that Scrum.com joins ESPN prior to this year’s Rugby World Cup.”

ESPN already holds some geographical broadcasting rights for rugby’s World Cup and Heineken Cup, as well as rights to show previous World Cup matches on its ESPN Classic channel.