Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
GP14 RESUMES + FRANCE TESTS ADDED!
After a two week break for European fixtures the Guinness PRO14 is back in action this weekend and The Rugby Channel will bring you an All-Irish clash, LIVE from Galway.
The Rugby Channel will also deliver our first match from the 2017/18 Greene King IPA Championship with a LIVE tussle from South Yorkshire.
If you want to watch Connacht versus Munster at the Sportsground on Friday and Doncaster Knights against the Cornish Pirates at Castle Park on Sunday, then you’ve got to get yourself an annual subscription to The Rugby Channel because that’s the only way you’ll be able to see these two intriguing battles.
Each and every week The Rugby Channel endeavors to fill your phone, tablet, laptop, and TV with glorious rugby and this Fall we are more than accomplishing that task.
In the next two months we’ll give you the opportunity to watch more Guinness PRO14 and Greene King IPA Championship matches, the beginning of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, TRC College Rugby, the Women’s Premier League Finals, the USA Rugby Fall Collegiate Finals, both the USA Eagles tour tests versus Germany and Georgia, England’s Autumn Internationals against Argentina, Australia, and Samoa, the Barbarians vs. New Zealand, and the start of the Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai, all available LIVE or through our Video On Demand option.
And if that's not enough incredible content to get your rugby juices flowing, The Rugby Channel has just added the three France tests. Les Bleus will take on New Zealand on November 11, South Africa on November 18, and Japan on November 25!!
Realistically it’s probably more rugby than you can watch LIVE but it sure would be fun to try! Or you can choose what you absolutely feel you have to see LIVE - like all the test matches - and then view the rest when you can squeeze it into your busy schedule on VOD! Subscribe Now or you will miss two of the very best months on the rugby calendar.
Here’s what was available LIVE last weekend and is now ready for your consumption on VOD.
WEST COAST SEVENS
If you don’t have time to watch the whole tournament from Treasure Island in its entirety then I suggest taking a look at the finals from Sunday.
In the Shield Final Western Washington took it to UCSB 31-0 to finish 13th overall. WWU beat UCSB twice in the tourney, also outscoring them 31-10 in pool play on Saturday.
In the Bowl Final UC Davis won a close contest 10-7 over Cal Poly to wind up in 9th place. Cal Poly had a chance for the win at the death but were unable to go the distance on the final movement of the match. Cal Poly’s only try was a doozy, a rare double kick through from their own 1-meter line that was re-gathered 98 meters later and then dotted down!
The Plate Final saw archrivals UCLA and USC going at it with the Bruins coming away victorious 22-10 to end up in 5th position. Don’t miss UCLA’s opening five pointer that started underneath their own posts and went more than 100 meters.
The consolation Final was contested by Cal and Utah Valley with the Golden Bears taking 3rd after jumping out to what proved to be an insurmountable seventeen point lead. After cruising through pool play and the quarters, both these sides had to be disappointed to have not made the final.
The Cup Final between Central Washington and Arizona was a battle from start to finish with CWU coming out on top 17-15 to earn the victory. As it should be, the outcome was in doubt right until the last second of the match with Arizona on attack and Central Washington bravely defending their slim lead. Both squads have plenty of talent and produced a highly entertaining finale to a great event.
This was the most exciting Division 1A match I’ve seen since the Final earlier this year between Life and St. Mary’s. Colorado State jumped out to an early lead, Air Force regained the advantage, and the teams were knotted at 17 apiece at halftime.
The Zoomies came out firing after the break and scored ten quick points but after that it was all Rams as they rattled off forty unanswered points, the last try coming when they were down to 13 men.
The one negative aspect of the match was the large number of yellow and red cards because of indiscipline, but that being said, both sides were generally successful in capitalizing on the opportunities presented by having the opposition in the bin.
The Glendale Merlins Under-20 squad is a force to be reckoned with. Prior to this encounter with a largely inexperienced University of Colorado JV team they had been averaging over 80 points per game against decent opposition.
The talent on the side is immense and it won’t be surprising if several members find themselves being permanently called up to the Elite squad in due course. Flyhalf Mika Kruse was especially impressive both running the show from number ten and with the boot.
The biggest difficulty ahead for the U20s would seem to be in finding quality opponents to take them on and push them to their limits.
Glendale had to work hard for this win but it was worth it as they became the first WPL team to clinch a playoff berth in the upcoming Finals in Tucson.
The Surfers of course are the defending champions and they were fighting for their postseason lives, which meant that they pushed the Merlins relentlessly for eighty full minutes.
If you want to see two of the best teams in the country playing smashing rugby with neither giving an inch, then definitely watch this one on VOD.
Sam Pankey for the Surfers was a demon on both sides of the ball and nearly led her side to the upset win at Infinity Park but captain Sarah Chabot anchored a dominant Merlins scrum that proved to be the difference on Saturday night.
Another episode filled with interesting tidbits and exciting highlights.
First up was referee Alhambra Nieves making history as the first woman to call a men’s test when she did Finland versus Norway in Helsinki. Curious that it took nearly seven years for this to happen after USA referee Dana Teagarden was scheduled to do the Netherlands vs. Hong Kong in 2010 but was snowed out on the day.
Then there’s a piece on South Africa’s new Gold Cup club competition that’s drawing fans and generating excitement.
Pay particular attention to the segment on the rise of rugby in Germany as the Eagles will be playing there in a few weeks and might be in for a tougher time than expected.
There are also highlights from the last round of the Americas Pacific Challenge in Uruguay in which the USA beat Canada and earned second place.
The coolest feature has former Munster and Ireland players Peter Stringer and Donncha O’Callaghan discussing why and how they are still playing the game professionally well into their late 30s.
This is the last week of the regular season in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship and as usual there were some outstanding clashes to determine playoff positioning for the Meads and Lochore Cups.
This is an hour well spent, watching rugby played with passion by guys who genuinely put their hearts into it simply because they love being out on the pitch.
Connacht is in sixth place in Conference A in the Guinness PRO14 and need to get some more home wins if they intend to put themselves in the running for a playoff spot. Beating second place Munster in Galway won’t be an easy task but the men in green will have renewed confidence after two strong wins in the European Challenge Cup over Oyonnax and Worcester.
Munster’s two outings in the Champions Cup resulted in an away draw with Castres Olympique and a home win over Racing 92. This was a definite improvement over their last few weeks of GP14 play when they lost to Leinster, beat Cardiff, and fell heavily to Glasgow.
Conditions should be decent on Friday which may allow Connacht to do some running, if they can get their hands on enough ball. Looking forward to catching this one and glad to have the competition up and running again!
KNIGHTS V PIRATES – Sunday, October 29 at 10:00 AM ET
The Greene King IPA Championship has gone back to an automatic promotion for the club that finishes at the top of the table, rather than a two-legged playoff at the end, which means that every competition point is vital.
The Doncaster Knights find themselves in third place on the log with 21 points after six rounds, eight behind Bristol. This home fixture against the Cornish Pirates will be an opportunity for them to close that gap and put some pressure on the leaders.
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