Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
A BREAK FOR EUROPE!
The Rugby Channel had plenty of LIVE oval action on offer last weekend, way more than enough to justify spending less than a bucka week to watch it all!
Our coverage began on Friday as the Guinness Pro12 provided one of the best matches of the season with Connacht meeting Ulster in Galway, followed by a thoroughly entertaining clash on Saturday between historic rivals Leinster and Munster in Dublin.
Later on Saturday it was the USA Selects playing against the Fiji Warriors in World Rugby’s Americas Pacific Challenge, a tournament designed to give extra competition at just below test level for Tier 2 countries.
The union fun concluded on Sunday with a sixth round encounter from the Greene King IPA Championship as Richmond hosted the Ealing Trailfinders.
Check out all the highlights in TRC Report #22 then continue reading below!
If you didn’t watch this one live then go ahead and watch it right now on VOD, you will definitely enjoy it!
Connacht stormed out of the gate with an opening try to shock Ulster, then the match settled down into a tight affair for the next twenty minutes or so.
This was reminiscent of Ulster’s Round Five clash with Ospreys but unlike the Welsh region, Connacht eventually broke through the visitor’s defense again and notched two more quick five pointers to open up a nineteen point margin.
Ulster didn’t win five straight matches to start the campaign by accident though and they responded with a try before halftime and two more right after to draw the sides even.
Connacht responded with a second try by winger Cian Kelleher in the fifty-second minute that would prove to be the decider but not before Ulster fought back with everything they had.
Unfortunately for Ulster, a player they didn’t have in the match day 23 was veteran halfback Ruan Pienaar, whose cool head and decisive play would have been a huge benefit in the latter stages of the contest.
Connacht has definitively proven that their rebound from a very slow start is for real by beating Ulster and they’ll get a chance to show off that resurgent form in their return to Pro12 action on October 29th when they face off against Leinster at the RDS Arena.
A very large and vocal crowd packed into the AVIVA Stadium to watch one of the best provincial rivalries in world rugby.
Leinster have had the better of Munster in recent years and that trend continued on Saturday.
Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton opened with a couple of penalties but it was Munster that crossed the try line first after a long-distance maul.
Munster had looked the tougher and more determined team up to that point but losing the early lead seemed to awaken Leinster because from then on it was mostly they who were in charge.
The home team took back the lead with an Isa Nacewa try off an easy scrum move, extended it with another five pointer from the winger, and put it out of reach as replacement Jamison Gibson-Park dotted down when Munster failed to handle a bouncing ball near their tryline.
This was a big win for Leinster. They are now virtually tied for the Guinness Pro12 lead (behind Ulster by just 2 on points differential), they head into Europe with confidence and momentum (they host Castres and travel to Montpellier), and they’re getting stronger and healthier every week.
I can’t wait until we see them again in Dublin against a reinvigorated Connacht at the end of this month.
In a developmental tournament like this one being played in Montevideo, Uruguay the primary objective is not necessarily victory.
The overall goal should be to give players a chance to show what they can do at this level, see if they can gel with their teammates, and most importantly, gauge whether or not they are capable of significant improvement under international conditions.
The USA Selects had some good moments in their first hit out against the Fiji Warriors but taken as a whole it was a challenging day for them at Estadio Charrua.
A few players distinguished themselves with positive play but in general the team suffered from defensive lapses and a high error rate with ball in hand.
Fortunately, they will get two more chances to show their stuff and make progress when they square off against Canada A on Wednesday and Uruguay A on Sunday.
Richmond is the only non-professional team in this competition. They accepted promotion from National League One but decided as a club to keep their day jobs and compete against the full time pros in the Greene King IPA Championship.
So far they’ve yet to win a match but they are performing with a lot of heart and are still looking to always improve. Impressive.
Ealing Trailfinders are currently in fifth position on the table but they are a team with ambition. They have big hopes and are pushing to improve their play on the pitch to match their goals.
Give this match a look, it’s got a lot of quality rugby in it and some really good talent as well.
Canada A also lost in the first round of pool play, going down to Argentina XV 56 – 29. The Canadians trailed 42 – 3 at one point but were eventually able to fight their way back to a much more respectable scoreline despite being reduced to 13 men when they lost two front-rowers to the sinbin.
Be sure to catch this one LIVE with Dallen Stanford and Marc Stcherbina on the call.
The hosts played a thriller of a match against Samoa A and had to be gutted to lose 42 – 44 at the death on a penalty kick.
Next up for Uruguay A is a battle with neighbors Argentina which promises to be another monumental clash.
When they face the USA Selects on Sunday they’ll either be riding high after an emotional win over their rivals or looking for their first win of the tourney. Either way, a dangerous opponent!
Another very entertaining episode from WRTV.
First up is a Danny Care profile where he looks back on the influences on his career, beginning as a youth and up through his current role as scrumhalf for England.
Two pieces from this show that will confirm your faith in the goodness of this game involve the Mike Ballard Rugby Foundation undertaking a donation tour to Madagascar and a look at girls rugby coach Robert Jones at Feilding High School in New Zealand.
Only a couple of weeks to go in this competition before the knockout phase begins so there’s a lot on the line in these six matches.
Pay particular attention to the Wairarapa Bush vs. Buller match, as it has serious playoff implications, as well as a history making draw between North Otago and King Country.
There is also a nice little bit at the end covering the 100th game for King Country captain Aarin Dunster.
If you call yourself a rugby fan, then you’ve got to get a subscription to The Rugby Channel. Less than a dollar a week lets you watch top level rugby in fifteens and sevens, international and domestic, and a wide variety of additional rugby programming.
Here’s what is currently on the list and we’re always striving to add more: the Guinness Pro12, the RBS Six Nations, both men’s and women’s USA Eagles tests, the United States vs Maori All Blacks in Chicago, all the men’s and women’s USA Rugby Emirates Airlines National Championships in 15s and 7s, the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the Greene King IPA Championship, and British Universities & Colleges Sport Rugby.
You also get weekly programs like TRC Report, World Rugby TV, and Mainfreight Rugby from New Zealand, plus an entire archive filled with great rugby from the past featuring the Eagles, England, and selected matches from all eight Rugby World Cups.
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