GP14, COLLEGE, & GLENDALE!

21 Sep 2017

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column

GP14, COLLEGE, & GLENDALE!

The last weekend of Summer produced some very entertaining rugby and if you were a subscriber to The Rugby Channel you could have enjoyed every minute of it either LIVE or on VOD from Swansea, Cambridge, and Philadelphia.

The first weekend of Fall promises even more thrilling action from Galway, Madison, and Glendale and you can watch it all from start to finish by spending less than a single dollar per week to purchase an annual subscription to The Rugby Channel.

Saturday was definitely a rugby day last week as Ospreys and Munster battled right to the end in a Guinness PRO14 clash, Harvard walloped Brown in a TRC College Rugby fixture, and the AIG Collegiate All-Americans came close against Oxford University in the American Series curtain raiser.

If you didn’t have a chance to see any of the matches, check out TRC Report #69 for highlights packages from all three, plus an outstanding Try of the Week from Munster’s Darren Sweetnam and an Archive Pick of the Week that features Connacht and Cardiff from 2016.   

OSPREYS 16 – 21 MUNSTER

Munster are off to a hot start in the PRO14 and Ospreys are struggling to get going. The men in red dominated possession from the outset but it was the home side that scored the first try at Liberty Stadium with a bit of brilliance from James Hook. Unfortunately for the home fans, they never got over the line again as Munster’s vaunted defense held firm throughout the rest of the contest, allowing just three penalty kicks in the last sixty-eight minutes.

Munster got their first try off a lineout and maul drive that ended with Jean Kleyn going over from in close in a typical movement from the visitors. Their second came from a nice self-gathered up and under from fullback Andrew Conway that was eventually finished off by Darren Sweetnam in the corner.

Munster flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal had a rough start with the boot but eventually recovered his aim to notch a conversion and three penalties, enough to give Munster the win in extremely rainy conditions that put a premium on ball-handling and accuracy.

Ospreys hung tough until the final whistle and could have won the match any number of times with a lucky break or call in their favor but could never mount enough sustained pressure to break down Munster’s defense. The Ospreys will improve when their Lions return to the lineup and they work out the offensive inconsistencies that are currently hampering their progress.

Munster is looking good and will only get better once their Lions come back onboard. They obviously have plenty of depth and are already playing high quality rugby early in the campaign. The next time we’ll see them on The Rugby Channel will be on September 30 in Round 5 when they host Cardiff at Thomond Park.

AIG COLLEGIATE ALL-AMERICANS 18 – 20 OXFORD

This was a smashing match that had numerous lead changes and was in doubt til the very end. The Americans managed a Cristian Rodriguez try and two Nick Boyer penalties in the first forty while Oxford dotted down twice and nailed a single conversion for a 12-11 halftime lead.

Oxford definitely had the edge in the scrums, which was fortunate because they repeatedly knocked the ball on and found themselves scrumming more than they would have liked. It worked out for them early in the second half though, as they pushed a scum over from in close to extend their lead to 17-11.

The All-Americans responded ten minutes later through already capped Eagle Matt Jensen to go up 18-17. But it was a former All-American, Oxford Captain Conor Kearns who had the final say, booting a late penalty to defeat his old teammates.

The only disappointment I felt in watching this match was that the All-Americans were only scheduled for one game, I’m ready for more!

HARVARD 53 – 15 BROWN

The Ivy Rugby Conference is a competitive rugby league that routinely produces representative players. In this season opener the Harvard Crimson clearly had the upper hand against the Brown Bears as they scored tries early and often for a big win at home.

The competition level will ratchet up another notch for Harvard next week when they travel north to take on perennial champions Dartmouth in Hanover while Brown faces off against Cornell in Ithaca.

CONNACHT V CARDIFF – Saturday, Sept. 23 at 10:15 AM ET

This is a vital match for both teams. After the first three rounds in Conference A, Connacht is in third position with six competition points and Cardiff is in sixth with just one point to their name. Both sides desperately need a win and they’ll be battling tooth and nail to get it.

Connacht opened with a close loss at home to an as yet unbeaten Glasgow team, scored a solid victory over the visiting Southern Kings, then fell last week to the Dragons at Rodney Parade in a disappointing performance against the previously winless outfit. Back on home turf in Galway, they will want to even up their record and maintain their slot in the table.

Cardiff is off to a horrific start to their 2017/18 campaign. The nightmare began with a loss at the Arms Park to Edinburgh, continued with a severe thumping by Leinster in Dublin, and was followed by an agonizingly close defeat by Glasgow in Cardiff in a match that they could have won with a late penalty attempt.

Connacht are desperate to prove that their title two years ago wasn’t a total fluke, that they are still a legitimate playoff contender, and in order to do that they need to win matches at home against opposition ranked lower than them on the ladder.

Cardiff is a proud team with loads of talent and championship ambitions. In the recent past they have dominated Connacht home and away. A win on Saturday will right the ship, and just in time too, because looming in Round 5 is a trip to Limerick to face Munster.

WISCONSIN V INDIANA – Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2:00 PM ET

The second match in TRC’s College Rugby schedule will pit defending Big Ten champions Indiana against Wisconsin in Madison. These Division 1A competitors have a long rivalry and are generally two of the best sides in the conference.

The Indiana program has recently produced some talented individuals as well, including current Eagle and Glendale center Bryce Campbell and Collegiate All-American Teddy Terezis, who will captain the 2017 squad.

This is Wisconsin’s Big Ten opener, Indiana began last week by demolishing Purdue.

GLENDALE V MYSTIC RIVER – Saturday, Sept. 23 at 5:00 PM ET

Glendale got their Fall exhibition season started a couple of weeks ago by dismantling the Ontario Arrows, the only team they’d lost to in quite some time. The Merlins comprehensively outplayed the talented Arrows and allowed just a single try in a 41-7 victory.

The next challenger for the Merlins is a Mystic River side that is part of the American Rugby Premiership and a traditional Eastern power that won the 2016 Division 1 national championship. They’ve suffered consecutive defeats heading into this encounter, falling to Oxford University and NYAC, but will be raring to go against possibly the premier side in the country right now.

Infinity Park has always been a tough place for visiting teams to be successful but with the lineup that Glendale is putting on the pitch right now, leaving Rugbytown USA with a win will require incredible effort and cohesive precision from Mystic River.

GLENDALE V LINDENWOOD – Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 PM ET

The Glendale Merlins Women’s Premier League squad has quickly established themselves as the team to beat in 2017, taking care of Berkeley and San Diego on the road and Chicago North Shore at home. This week they have a bye so they will be filling it with a friendly against one of the top women’s collegiate teams in the nation, Lindenwood University.

The Lions are a relatively new, yet thoroughly outstanding program based in St. Charles, Missouri. They are the 2017 Women’s Open Division 7s champs and came oh so close to knocking off Penn State in the College 15s National Championships Division 1 Elite title game in May at Life University.

If you want to watch women’s rugby at its best, this is a match that will feature stars of the present and future. 

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The Rugby Channel’s Fall schedule is kicking off this weekend and it’s only going to get better every single week as the Guinness PRO14 heats up, TRC College Rugby crisscrosses the country with intriguing matchups, the WPL ramps up and the international season gets underway featuring the Eagles, England, and New Zealand.

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