Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
THE RUGBY CHANNEL DELIVERS RUGBY!
The Rugby Channel is the place to watch all of USA Rugby’s best domestic content with championships galore at all levels of the game. The 2017 USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship was a fantastic display of the abundance of sevens talent in the United States and The Rugby Channel was proud to bring it to you FREE and LIVE from start to finish.
If you have a favorite team that you’d like to see, or just want to check out any of the matches from pool play on Saturday and the knockout rounds on Sunday, give them a look with our Video On Demand option.
There are over sixty matches available from the weekend from both the Stadium and Field 2. If you don’t have time to watch them all, I suggest just working your way through the Shield, Bowl, Plate, and Cup finals or perhaps pick one of the title winning teams and view their progress throughout the entire tournament. The Rugby Channel lets you consume all the rugby you want, when and how you want to!
Another option that will give you a quality glimpse of the best sides in action in Blaine, Minnesota last weekend is to watch TRC Report #64.
This week’s edition focuses solely on the Club 7s National Championship and gives you all the tries from the men’s and women’s Cup semifinals, 3rd place matches, and Cup Finals. In total, more than twenty minutes of high-flying sevens entertainment that will let you experience the most critical encounters of the tourney as the various squads battled for sevens supremacy.
In the men’s bracket, 2016 champs Rugby Utah squared off against Belmont Shore in the first semifinal and made quick work of the Pacific South qualifiers, allowing only a consolation try at the end of the match. The Selects thoroughly dominated thirteen of the fourteen minutes and signaled their intention to go back-to-back in 2017.
In the other semi, the Denver Barbarians progressed to yet another final by winning a thriller against Washington Athletic, scoring at the death for the hard-fought victory. This was one of the best matches of the entire tournament and the outcome was always in doubt.
In the 3rd place match - always a tough one to play with serious disappointment still fresh in both teams’ minds - Belmont Shore and Washington Athletic started out close but the Seattle-area side eventually proved too tough and experienced for the Southern California stalwarts.
The Final was between Denver and Utah and it definitely lived up to its promise of being a titanic clash. Utah scored first, then drew a yellow, Denver surged ahead and seemed to have sealed the match by going up 21-10 with about three minutes to go in the second half but Utah stayed focused and scored the first of two comeback tries very quickly.
Denver snared the ensuing restart but kicked away possession with less than a minute to go, then missed a few tackles and paid the price as Utah took it eighty meters to give themselves the chance to win it with a conversion from right in front of the goalposts, which they did. Heartbreak yet again for Denver, delight for Utah, and a rollicking good time for all you viewers!
On the women’s side, the first semi saw the Life West Gladiatrix (current 15s Division I champions) take on Seattle Atavus in a back-and-forth battle. Seattle jumped out to a two try lead, Life West got back within two points before Seattle scored at the end to advance.
Next up was 2016 champs Scion Sirens against the two time champs San Diego Surfers and again it was a punch-counterpunch affair with both teams dotting down twice. Ultimately, the difference was that the Surfers made their conversions and the Sirens didn’t.
The 3rd place game between Scion and Life West was a defensive struggle as both teams showed the fatigue of a long weekend. Life West scored the only try and the Gladiatrix finished off their Sunday with a consolation win.
The women’s final produced plenty of action as Seattle and San Diego got after it with a trophy and a title up for grabs. These are two really talented teams and fairly evenly matched but Atavus were the more relentless attackers and their pressure eventually won the day with two unanswered second half tries. Great rugby value in this final, well worth your time to view it in its entirety.
The Rugby Channel’s Try of the Week was a hardware winning effort scored by Joshua Anderson of Rugby Utah that was started by tournament MVP Don Pati inside his own 22-meter line and finished right under the sticks as time expired!
TRC’s Archive Pick of the Week features a clip from the 2016 Plate Final of the upcoming Rugbytown 7s with Mike Teo scoring an outstanding try from the opening kickoff for the SoCal Griffins against the British Army.
Both these teams will again square off at the Rugbytown 7s two weekends from now but this time they’ll meet in Pool D, a grouping that also includes the Cayman Islands, Negro Y Azul, and the host Glendale Merlins. The tournament starts on Friday, August 25th and runs through Sunday, August 27th.
Once again, World Rugby TV delivers an entertaining and informative program dealing primarily with the Women’s Rugby World Cup. It starts with a profile of the defending World Cup champion England squad and their preparations, has snippets of commentary from some of this year’s international captains, delivers highlights from all six of the first round matches (England vs Spain, New Zealand vs Wales, United States vs Italy, Canada vs Hong Kong, Ireland vs Australia, and France vs Japan), and profiles Japan hooker Suzuki Misaki and New Zealand captain Fiao’o Fa’amausili. Plus, a further bit of inspiration from Eagle Alev Kelter!
The episode also contains highlights from an unexpected victory by Tahiti over the Cook Islands in men’s RWC 2019 qualifying and the last round of play from the Africa Gold Cup with Uganda beating Zimbabwe and Tunisia topping Senegal.
It’s great to see these bits of footage from all over the world every week to remind ourselves of what a truly global game rugby is and how important it is to the players and supporters everywhere, whether a country is ranked in the top ten or closer to one hundredth.
Finals, finals, and more finals are the order of the day in New Zealand as they wrap up their club season before the provincial one begins. This week’s offerings include title contests from South Canterbury, King Country, Wanganui, Auckland, and East Coast. There were some close ones, some blowouts, and even an extra time thriller as various trophies were won and jubilation ensued from Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru to Eden Park in Auckland.
It’s important to remember that even in an all-powerful rugby nation like New Zealand, the integral heart of the sport is still in small clubs all over the country whose members play for the love of the game. Without that base of participation at the grassroots level, they could never produce the multitude of talented stars who later wear the all black jerseys with the silver fern.
Rugby has only now been a truly professional sport for a little over twenty years but the game has changed immensely in that time. The amount of money involved worldwide is amazing, athletes with superior talent are channeled into professional academies and other programs from an early age, and the traditional pathway of club, province, and then national selection has been mostly discarded.
But even though they won’t ever probably be representing anything other than their smaller union, look at the expressions of joy on the faces of the guys from Taumarunui as they hoisted the Meads Shield after beating Waitete in the King Country Final and you’ll see true love of rugby in its purest form.
Not coincidentally, it’s the same look seen on the faces of Seattle Atavus and the Rugby Utah Selects as they raised their respective silverware in Minnesota. The Rugby Channel is dedicated to bringing you as much of that rugby joy as possible, wherever it comes from.
As promised, our embedded videographer has provided a wide-ranging interview with Eagle flyhalf Kimber Rozier as she discusses her conversion to rugby from soccer, the United States’ preparations for the World Cup, and her reasons for loving the sport, all mixed with behind-the-scenes footage from training in Ireland. Enjoy!
The Guinness PRO14 Championship gets going on the first weekend in September and if you’re not a subscriber, you won’t be able to watch one of the most highly-anticipated season kickoffs in recent memory. Subscribe Now to The Rugby Channel for less than a single dollar per week and you’ll be in perfect position to follow the campaign from September all the way through until May.