11 Nov 2016

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column


The 2016 Big Ten Rugby Championships will be held in Elkhart, Indiana on November 12.

The Rugby Channel will bring you the 3/4 place match between Wisconsin and Michigan LIVE at 12:30 pm ET and the Championship Final featuring Indiana and Ohio State at 2:30 pm ET. 


A subscription to The Rugby Channel will cost you less than a dollar per week and will give you so much quality rugby – both LIVE and VOD – that it’ll be virtually impossible for you to consume it all.

That means you’ll be in the enviable position of cherry picking the very best rugby to watch. We’re happy to help you make your selections by showing you all of last weekend’s highlights in TRC Report #26.

Below this week’s previews you’ll find a quick recap of last week’s matches along with links for viewing.

UNITED STATES V ROMANIA – Saturday Nov. 12 at 11:00 am ET

The Eagles will be a better side in Bucharest than they were in Chicago as the squad will be bolstered by their Europe-based professionals.

They will definitely need to improve on their performance at Toyota Park and the addition of players like Cameron Dolan, Blaine Scully, Samu Manoa, Lanilangi Haupeaku, Taku Ngwenya, and Thretton Palamo will help in that effort.

Romania is playing some good rugby of late, winning seven of their eight tests this year, losing only to a powerful Georgia team in Tbilisi. Romania has only ever beaten the United States once, back in 1999 in the 1999 Rugby World Cup at the old Lansdowne Road.

BARBARIANS V FIJI – Friday Nov. 11 at 2:30 pm ET

After watching the Barbarians dazzle the Wembley crowd with a strong outing against South Africa, I’m really looking forward to watching them take on Fiji in Belfast.

I suspect that this won’t be a defense-oriented encounter and that the highlight package for next week’s TRC Report will be long and filled with amazing five pointers!

In today’s hyper-professional environment overcrowded with fixtures there are those who question the continuation of the Barbarians. I’m not one of them. These are fun matches and the players always have high praise for the experience, harkening back to a more social time in the rugby universe. Keep scheduling them and I’ll keep watching!

MUNSTER V MAORI ALL BLACKS – Friday Nov. 11 at 2:30 pm ET

Munster have a long history of beating international tourists and the Maori have a strong record of knocking off all comers.

The Maori walloped the USA Eagles last time out and Munster shut out a pretty good Ospreys team in their last Guinness Pro12 match.

The battle between the packs is where I’ll be focused on Friday. If Munster can hold the visitors in check or even beat them up front, then their task of defending against the pacy Maori backline will be made much easier and thus put themselves in a good position to add the Maori All Blacks to their list of significant conquests.

Of all the matches The Rugby Channel has on offer this weekend, this is the one that has the most potential to be an instant classic.

ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA – Saturday Nov. 12 at 9:30 am ET

This is always one of my favorite tests no matter where it takes place simply because the rivalry between these two rugby-loving nations is traditionally fierce and passionate.

England Coach Eddie Jones has England playing well, thinking big, and undefeated since their shocking early exit from RWC 2015.

South Africa have lost five of their last nine tests and are not anywhere near top form. 

England has not beaten South Africa since 2006 at Twickenham and the hosts will be on a mission to see that streak halted on Saturday.

BRISTOL V SALE – Friday Nov. 11 at 2:45 pm ET

Bristol is not a happy place at the moment. After rejoining the Premiership for the first time in seven years they have yet to win a match there in 2016, and have also suffered two Challenge Cup losses and one Anglo Welsh Cup defeat. This caused the firing of Director of Rugby Andy Robinson. Now there’s nowhere to go but up, or eventually, at the end of the campaign, down again.

Sale are in a much different position. They are fifth on the Premiership ladder and won their first Anglo Welsh clash against Wasps. Even though they handily beat Bristol just two weeks ago, they have to be careful and disciplined because sometimes the most dangerous opponent is one with nothing to lose and everything to prove.

EXETER V CARDIFF – Sunday Nov. 13 at 10:00 am ET

Exeter’s loss to Harlequins in the first round of the Anglo Welsh Cup was an unwelcome continuation of a winless streak in all competitions that stretches back to late September. Most of those defeats were close ones and the team has got to feel that they just need a little something extra to snap the string at Sandy Park on Sunday.

Cardiff have had a mixed season so far. They started gangbusters in the Guinness Pro12 then faded, won both their Challenge Cup matches, and are now seventh on the Pro12 table. They did win last week against Benetton Treviso. A win in their Anglo Welsh opener would help them build momentum for the rest of their various campaigns.

WOMEN’S PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP – Friday, Nov. 11 at 10:00 am ET and Sunday, Nov. 13 at 9:00 am ET

The WPL Championship Weekend will take place in Marietta, Georgia on the campus of Life University. There will be four semifinals in a row on Friday and four consecutive finals on Sunday, wrapping up with the crowning of a champion.

The first day’s matches are Berkeley All Blues vs Atlanta Harlequins, Oregon Sports Union vs D.C. Furies, Glendale Raptors vs New York Rugby, and San Diego Surfers vs Twin Cities Amazons. 

This is the top level of women’s domestic rugby in the US and features most of the USA Eagles on the various teams so you know the rugby will be top notch. If the 2015 tourney is any guide, the last two semis on Friday and the final on Sunday will be required viewing.


The Eagles still have a lot of work to do and this thrashing by the Maori just highlighted that fact. There were some bright spots and as usual they played hard but     were simply outclassed on the night by superior talent and tactical execution. The Maori scored some fantastic tries but my favorite was the last one involving a couple of sneaky front-rowers – give it a look!


Munster were fully in control of this one right from the beginning yet they never stopped grinding until the very end. The Men in Red are playing outstanding power rugby in an emotional fashion. Be sure to catch them against the Maori All Blacks this weekend because we won’t see them in the Guinness Pro12 again until just after Christmas.


Click on the link above to see more highlights from the first round of the Anglo Welsh Cup.


This was a battle all the way between two really solid clubs. With a number of players away on international duty it was a good opportunity to see how some up-and-coming youngsters reacted in a tense situation. The match went back and forth throughout and was in doubt until the end, a great advertisement for the return of the Anglo Welsh Cup.


Nick Evans’ Man of the Match effort for Harlequins showed the value of having an experienced hand running the show from the flyhalf position. The former Highlander and All Black kicked exactly the amount of points that ended up being the winning margin and marshalled his troops around the pitch all night long at The Stoop. This clash was closer than the final scoreline indicated as Quins scored a couple of late tries.


Japan is a young team on the rise and at Prince Chichibu Stadium they got a glimpse of their potential future. Argentina is a team that’s getting better every year. Regular fixtures against the other Rugby Championship nations and participation in Super Rugby have vaulted them into the top tier of rugby countries and it shows in their play. In Tokyo they pounced on Japanese mistakes and repeatedly turned them into tries in a comprehensive performance.


If you can only find time for one match on VOD this week, make it this one! The Barbos and the Boks went at it full tilt on Saturday and finished with an incredible draw that seemed to be an appropriate outcome. There appeared to be just a little bit of extra aggression in this match with so many South Africans in the Barbarians team.


At less than a dollar per week, an annual subscription to The Rugby Channel would have already paid for itself in rugby excitement just from last weekend!

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