Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
I love rugby. I love watching it, discussing it, writing about it, and producing it for the viewing public. But what I truly enjoy most about the sport is experiencing the shared passion for the game that’s felt by millions around the world. This week on The Rugby Channel that sentiment of collective love is fully on display in a variety of shows that you can watch at the click of a button.
This program consistently features entertaining profiles, previews and random content from around the oval globe but the highlight for me this week is the interview with Fiji 7s head coach Ben Ryan.
His analysis of how Fiji accomplished the task of winning their first-ever Olympic gold medal is analytical and informative. He calmly explains Fiji’s steady march through the tourney which is then followed by scenes of jubilant Fijians celebrating their team’s historic victory.
When the International Olympic committee added Rugby Sevens to the Rio Games this must have been their hope: that a small nation without a significant Olympic legacy would take the gold and celebrate it with pure joy!
This is probably my favorite rugby show on television. I admit I’m a little biased, as a good friend of mine hosts it, but what gets me every time is the genuine way in which it presents the importance of community rugby in New Zealand.
In a country that’s steeped in rugby tradition and all-encompassing passion for the All Blacks, the true heart of the game is still the local club scene. This week’s episode focuses on provincial club championships far from the professional ranks but the depth of pride and commitment amongst the participants is palpable.
I especially enjoyed the pregame interviews with either the opposing coaches or various club representatives. Their honest appraisals of their teams’ capabilities and chances to hoist the hardware really made the show for me.
And pay particular attention to the variety of trophies and shields on offer by the individual unions, each with a specific history and distinctive look.
Coming up this weekend is one of the top events on the domestic calendar. Not only does the Rugbytown Sevens produce some outstanding play on the pitch but it generates a rugby atmosphere that is unmatched elsewhere.
A huge part of that is the presence of all five branches of the American military doing battle for bragging rights in their own tourney within a tourney.
Pool Play begins on Friday, August 26th at 2pm ET and the action continues throughout the weekend, culminating on Championship Sunday. The Rugby Channel will have complete coverage of this three-day event, free for your viewing pleasure.
The 2016/17 season kickoff is right around the corner with the first matches taking place on Friday, September 2nd. Each week The Rugby Channel will be bringing you the top two matches of the round, to be determined as the competition unfolds.
Until the end of last year, I hadn’t watched this tournament on a regular basis since before it expanded to twelve teams and was known as the Celtic League with different sponsorship.
I have to say that I was genuinely impressed with the quality of play, the intense built-in national rivalries, and overall level of talent throughout the league. This is great rugby viewing and I can’t wait for it to get underway!
Greene King IPA Championship
Also kicking off next weekend is the tournament to determine the winner of the second tier of RFU professional rugby. Last year’s winners Bristol have been promoted back up to the Premiership and there are a bunch of contenders who hope to follow them there after this campaign.
The Rugby Channel will have the best match of each round, beginning on September 3rd. Heading into the opening weekend, two of the initial favorites have to be newly relegated London Irish and beaten finalists Doncaster Knights.
This is the ninth year of the competition as a fully professional entity and the level of play is increasing accordingly. If you want to watch matches where players’ primary loyalty is still to their clubs, then this one is for you.
A subscription to The Rugby Channel is a fantastic deal. For just five bucks per month you will be able to watch a plethora of rugby action.
The current lineup includes the Guinness Pro12, the Greene King IPA Championship, the RBS Six Nations, and all men’s and women’s USA Eagles test matches. And yes, that includes the United States vs Maori All Blacks on November 4th!
The domestic schedule is also loaded with content, including the full slate of men’s and women’s USA Rugby Emirates Airlines National Championships in 15s and 7s.
In addition, we provide weekly shows like TRC Report, World Rugby TV, Toyota Grassroots Rugby and Mainfreight Rugby from New Zealand.
Plus, you can delve deep into our Archive and watch the game’s evolution through the years from all the World Cups and the best of England’s home test matches. All in all, a bargain at any price but for just five dollars a month it’s a steal.