GP14, TOP 14, & NAVY v ARMY!

21 Mar 2018

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column

GP14, TOP 14, & NAVY v ARMY!

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The fixtures on offer vary from week to week based upon which domestic and international tournaments are currently underway but at certain times of the year the action seems to really heat up and the rugby gets exponentially better.

We have entered one of those amazing rugby confluence periods and it’s going to be a really fun time over the next couple of months to watch it all unfold!

What that means for those of you who aren’t subscribers yet is that now is the time to jump in and pay your $59.99 for twelve months of outstanding coverage! Subscribe Now and start your year off right with a couple of the finest months of rugby available anywhere.

Here’s what you’ll be watching throughout the rest of March, April, and May.

The Top 14 has five more regular season rounds, then three weeks of finals. The Guinness PRO14 has four more weeks on the schedule then three weeks of knockouts. There are also three more stops on the Women’s Sevens Series, a winner to be determined in the Greene King IPA Championship, and a massive amount of USA Collegiate rugby still to be played.

Plus, we’re eventually going to see an Anglo-Welsh Cup Champion crowned!

EDINBURGH 12 – 6 MUNSTER

Normally it would be tough to say that a 12-6 match with only two tries scored was thoroughly exciting but remember, this match featured two probable playoff teams in need of wins. The excitement was generated by the closeness of the contest and the effort level displayed by the participants.

Both squads rose to the occasion and put in solid performances but Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh is becoming tough to beat at Myreside and Murrayfield and Munster still had to make do without most of their Ireland stars.

A couple of TMO decisions had an impact on the proceedings but in both cases the refs got it right and showed why proper use of the technology is so important in the professional game.

BATH v EXETER – AWC FINAL – POSTPONED!!

The United Kingdom has been hit by some serious weather in the last month and it’s played havoc with their sporting calendar. The latest comp to fall victim to heavy snowfall was the Anglo-Welsh Cup which was supposed to play its title match on Sunday.

A frozen pitch is a dangerous place to play rugby and that alone was probably enough to force the postponement. In addition, rail service to Gloucester was definitely going to be iffy and the roads were probably accidents waiting to happen. It’s unlikely that much championship atmosphere would have been produced on a miserably cold and hard field without many spectators. 

A lot goes into the decision to cancel a rugby match, especially one of this magnitude, but the highest concern has to be the safety of the players and fans and in this case the right decision was made.

As soon as the AWC and the teams involved come up with a date and time to play the title match, The Rugby Channel will cover it LIVE!

CASTRES 37 – 28 BRIVE

I think it’s safe to say that these teams don’t like each other at all!

It might have something to do with the fact that Brive hasn’t won away against Castres in more than twenty years or perhaps that whenever they get together the yellow cards seem to be produced in large numbers. This particular match saw three yellows for Castres and one for Brive plus numerous episodes of handbags and short tempers all around.

Castres jumped out to an early lead but Brive hung tough and were still just a try behind with about twenty minutes to play before the home team scored a couple of quick five pointers and sealed the victory.

Brive did cross the line late twice themselves but still came up short of earning a losing bonus point and now are in sole possession of last place in the Top 14.

TOULOUSE 22 – 14 MONTPELLIER

Toulouse looked like the dominant Toulouse of old in this star-studded affair on Sunday. Their forwards were in total control up front, the backs ran whenever opportunities presented themselves and the overall defense was stingy and solid.

And yet, they trailed early and didn’t fully put the match away until late, such is the strength of table-topping Montpellier.

It was surprising that the visitors didn’t figure out more ways to involve winger Nemani Nadolo because whenever he got the ball in hand the danger was palpable.

Despite not taking any points away from the encounter Montpellier is still firmly ensconced in top position with Toulouse climbing up to third, only one point behind Racing 92.

WORLD RUGBY TV – EPISODE 163

As usual WRTV is packed with highlights, including the Men’s and Women’s Six Nations, the Rugby Europe Championship, World Rugby Pacific Challenge, and the Vancouver Sevens.

There is also a feature with USA Sevens Eagles Matai Leuta and Naima Fualaau taking a bus tour around San Francisco in a preview of the 2018 Sevens World Cup. Both players are obviously proud to be representing the USA and look forward to performing in front of their home fans! 

TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS SHOW – ROUND 21

This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite shows offered on The Rugby Channel. Be sure to catch it every week to stay up-to-date on the happenings in the rest of the Top 14 and to get yourself ready for our upcoming pair of matches!

The Guinness PRO14 is back to a full schedule this weekend and The Rugby Channel will bring you a couple of fixtures that will definitely get the blood pumping!

CARDIFF v ULSTER -  Saturday, March 24 at 11:15 AM ET

This is going to be a rough one as both sides have everything to play for on Saturday.

Cardiff is in fourth place in Conference A and Ulster is in fourth place in Conference B. Finishing in fourth gets you nothing, finishing in third gets you into the playoffs.

This will be their first meeting of the season. The last time they met in April of 2017 it ended in a 24-all draw.

Prepare for a harsh and very physical encounter!

MUNSTER v SCARLETS – Saturday, March 24 at 1:30 PM ET

This is another confrontation between two teams that find themselves in similar positions.

Munster are second in A, chasing Glasgow to earn a first round bye and a home semi. Scarlets are second in B, chasing Leinster for the same prizes. Munster are being chased by the surging Cheetahs and Scarlets have to be worried about hard-charging Edinburgh.

Neither side is tearing it up at the moment as Munster recently lost to Edinburgh, beat Glasgow, and lost to Cardiff. Meanwhile, Scarlets drew with Leinster, beat Ulster, and lost to Leinster. Time for both to get back on track.

Plenty on the line at Thomond Park!

NAVY v ARMY – Saturday, March 24 at 2:00 pm ET

For the second straight year The Rugby Channel will bring you a classic piece of American rugby, the 36th annual battle between the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy and the Army Cadets from the US Military Academy at West Point.

Both squads are playing some good rugby and Navy hopes to avenge last year’s tight loss along the banks of the Hudson. This is one you definitely don’t want to miss!

TOULON v CLERMONT – Sunday, March 25 at 10:50 AM ET

Toulon vs Clermont at Stade Mayol will probably be the greatest assemblage of rugby talent to be found anywhere on the planet on Sunday.

Toulon fell to lowly Oyannax last week in a stunning loss that dropped them to fourth on the table. Clermont beat a very capable Pau team to stay in ninth, well out of relegation danger and now tantalizingly close to challenging for a postseason berth in sixth.

When these teams fire on all cylinders they are incredible to watch. Give it a look on Sunday morning and you’ll be glad you did!

LYON v RACING 92 – Sunday, March 25 at 3:00 PM ET

After beating Toulouse at Stade Ernest-Wallon two weeks ago, Lyon came up just short of knocking off La Rochelle at Stade Marcel-Deflandre in what would have been two stellar consecutive away wins.

Now they’re back at Stade Gerland on Sunday to take on visiting Racing 92 as they try to climb back into the top six.

Racing 92 took care of business versus Stade Francais last week and will now look to tame Lyon and keep the pressure on Montpellier.

Can’t wait to check it out!

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I know I’ve said this more than once but this weekend alone is worth the price of your annual subscription. An expenditure of only $59.99 will give you twelve months packed with rugby from around the globe and right here in your own backyard.

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