03 Nov 2016

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column


A November to Remember just got even better.

All of England’s Autumn Internationals from Twickenham in 2016 and beyond will be broadcast LIVE and exclusively on The Rugby Channel!

A subscription to The Rugby Channel for less than a dollar per week will let you watch England take on South Africa on Nov. 12, Fiji on Nov. 19, Argentina on Nov. 26, and Australia on Dec. 3.

And as an added bonus, The Rugby Channel will also show the rest of the Maori All Blacks tour as they face Munster on Nov. 11 and Harlequins on Nov. 16, both matches LIVE!


Now is the time to subscribe to The Rugby Channel for less than a buck a week because if you don’t, you won’t be able to watch the USA Eagles take on the Maori All Blacks LIVE from Toyota Park on Friday night.

Plus, you’ll also miss out on Round 8 of the Guinness Pro12, Round 1 of the Anglo Welsh Cup, and the beginning of our Fall Tours coverage.

Last week The Rugby Channel brought you a tense battle between Leinster and Connacht in the Guinness Pro12 and a powerful display of dominance by London Irish against London Scottish in the Greene King IPA Championship.

You can check out all the highlights in TRC Report #25.

USA EAGLES v MAORI ALL BLACKS – Friday Nov. 4 at 8:00 pm ET

To call this match highly anticipated would be a severe understatement. Ever since it was announced, the entire rugby community in the United States has been counting down to this contest like a little kid at Christmas time and finally it’s almost here!

Head Coach John Mitchell has named thirty-eight players for the Eagles’ three-match Fall Tour. The group is significantly larger than normal because only twenty-one of them will be available for all three games.

The squad is a mixed bag that includes seasoned internationals, overseas Eagles, domestic professionals, Sevens Olympians, collegians, and fifteen USA Rugby Selects from the recent Americas Pacific Challenge in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Twelve of them are uncapped at 15s.

Todd Clever and Blaine Scully will retain their joint-captaincy but Scully will meet up with the team in Europe.

This is an important time for the Eagles. This is now John Mitchell’s team, not an inherited squad, and he will want to see them perform the way that he and his staff have been coaching them to play.

That’s not to say that it’s a finished product by any means, more like a work in progress, especially with such a diverse group. Culture is built through continuity and this assemblage will be forced to reconcile their variety and emerge with a common purpose and attitude.

It certainly won’t be easy as the Maori All Blacks are loaded with New Zealand based talent.

Last Week the Maori named a quality squad for their three-match tour against the USA, Munster and Harlequins.

Head Coach Colin Cooper’s twenty-six man outfit is filled mostly with Super Rugby and Mitre 10 players who have played for the Maori before but it does include six new faces and two capped All Blacks.

The side will be captained by hooker Ash Dixon, one of nine players selected who were in the match-day 23 when the Maori last faced the Eagles in 2013 in Philadelphia.  

That match in Philly ended in a 29-19 win for the visitors but the Eagles were competitive throughout and their performance re-ignited interest in the national team and set the stage for future visits from the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

Another solid outing on Friday night would send the Eagles to Europe with renewed confidence ahead of facing Romania and Tonga, two nations that are currently ranked just above the United States.

A win, however, would be an explosive jolt for the team and for the US rugby community.

Whatever the outcome, this is an event you can’t miss. If you are not in Chicago you need to be watching The Rugby Channel somewhere!

MUNSTER V OSPREYS – Friday Nov. 4 at 3:35 pm ET

The Pro12 action gets underway this weekend at Irish Independent Park with Munster hosting Ospreys.

It has been an emotional and difficult month for Munster as they deal with the untimely death of their coach Anthony Foley. At a time when everyone involved is still dealing with his loss, playing rugby is probably a lone bright spot in their day when their collective grieving can be temporarily suspended as they focus on the task at hand, winning rugby matches.  

Last week Munster registered a come from behind win against Ulster and the previous week they handily defeated Glasgow in a European Cup match. Playing hard for their fallen leader seems to be providing powerful motivation for the men in red.

They currently sit in fourth place on the table, just three points behind the leaders.

The Ospreys are one of those leader teams on 26 points with five wins and two losses in the Pro 12.

They rampaged through Europe beating Newcastle and Lyon in the Challenge Cup, then toppled Newport last week at the Liberty Stadium.

Ospreys will want to wrap up this phase of the Pro12 campaign with a victory before heading into two weeks of Anglo Welsh action where they’ll face Harlequins and Cardiff.

BATH V LEICESTER – Friday Nov. 4 at 3:45 pm ET

The Anglo Welsh Cup involves the twelve English Premiership sides and the four Welsh regions. The 16 teams are split into four pools and play each other once with the pool winners advancing to the semifinals.

The tournament has been played in this format since 2005 but didn’t take place last year because of the scheduling difficulties surrounding the Rugby World Cup.

Bath vs Leicester is definitely one of the top fixtures in the first round of the Anglo Welsh Cup. The two clubs are in third and fourth place on the Premiership ladder. Bath is coming off a close win over Exeter and Leicester lost to first place Saracens so look for a big encounter at The Rec.

JAPAN V ARGENTINA – Saturday Nov. 5 at 1:40 am ET

This is a very intriguing matchup for a couple of reasons.

First, I think Japan is the new Argentina in the sense that they are probably going to be the next team to rise to prominence and crack the top ten in world rugby.

Japan’s mammoth upset of South Africa in RWC 2015, their entry into Super Rugby with the Sunwolves, and their hosting of RWC 2019 are all contributing to making a move towards becoming a true rugby power in the near future, much as Argentina has done over the last decade or so.

Second, even though they’ve met five times previously, their last test was more than a decade ago in 2005 and I’m really curious to see how Japan will hold up against the Pumas pack.

This promises to be thoroughly exciting and I’m looking forward to staying up late to watch it.

BARBARIANS V SOUTH AFRICA – Saturday Nov. 5 at 11:30 am ET

As with all fixtures involving the Barbarians FC, this is going to be a real treat to watch.

Coach Robbie Deans has a Barbarians side filled with young South African and Super Rugby talent, plus plenty of star power in the form of various All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks, and an Irish international.

The Boks were defeated last time they squared off against the Barbarians in 2010 and haven’t beaten the storied club since 2000 at the Millennium Stadium. This will be their first ever meeting at Wembley.

Patrick Lambie will assume the captaincy for South Africa as regular skipper Adriaan Strauss is rested for next week’s test with England.

HARLEQUINS V EXETER – Saturday Nov. 5 at 1:30 pm ET

Our second Anglo Welsh Cup match will be another battle of Premiership sides who are right next to each other in the standings with Quins sixth and the Chiefs seventh.

Their last meeting was back in mid-September when Exeter won 36-25 at Sandy Park.

The Chiefs have had some significant recent success in this competition, finishing as runners-up in 2014/15 and winning it all in 2013/14.


If there was ever a week to choose to spend less than a dollar per week to subscribe to The Rugby Channel, this is it!

A solitary buck this weekend gets you exclusive LIVE access to the USA Eagles vs Maori All Blacks clash, Japan vs Argentina and Barbarians vs South Africa, the Guinness Pro12 with Munster facing Ospreys, and two Anglo Welsh fixtures that are sure to entertain, Bath vs Leicester and Harlequins vs Exeter.

Now is the time. Subscribe Now for less than a buck a week!