Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
ENG v CAN, GP14, GEO v USA, ENG v SAM, & FRA V JPN!
The Rugby Channel is three-quarters of the way through a November to Remember and the action so far has been both incredibly entertaining and thoroughly satisfying to watch. We’ve delivered awesome autumn tests between the best countries in the world, an historic win by the Eagles, domestic matches, collegiate and club national championships, and clashes from several overseas professional competitions.
And the best part is that there’s still another week to go in the month and a huge amount of rugby yet to be played, so Subscribe Now and enjoy the rest of our LIVE fixtures and avail yourself of the opportunity to catch up on our plethora of recent offerings with The Rugby Channel’s Video On Demand option.
Here’s what you missed last weekend and why you should go back and check them out, plus what’s upcoming!
Not a lot of suspense in this one but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a look. England is in top form after finishing second at the 2017 Rugby World Cup and the talent they have on display is quite impressive. England is integrating fresh faces into their veteran squad and they are definitely up to the challenge, especially winger Jess Breach who scored a record six tries on debut.
Canada is also bringing youngsters into the national team setup but without many of their regular stars to act as a stabilizing influence. Even though England controlled most aspects of this match, Canada’s scrum showed their mettle throughout the second test and kept the scoreline more respectable at The Stoop on Tuesday than at Allianz Park last Friday. Canada is intent on totally rebuilding and they’ve definitely got some good raw material to work with.
Whenever these old rivals square off there is always more than the usual edge to the proceedings. England has plenty of depth and confidence right now while Australia is working on re-building both.
On Saturday England blew the margin out at the end with late tries but for more than seventy minutes this was anybody’s ballgame.
Australia can complain about TMO decisions that went against them and unfortunate yellow cards but ultimately, they didn’t do enough to win against an England team that stifled them defensively in very wet conditions that were more conducive to the hosts’ gameplan than the visitors’.
It’ll be well worth your time to watch this one on VOD!
The home side started strong and took an early lead against the visitors but the United States never doubted themselves and responded with a quality eighty-minute performance against Germany in Wiesbaden.
The Eagles showed lots of composure throughout a first forty where things really didn’t go their way until the end, then came roaring out of halftime to score five second half tries for a lopsided victory.
The Eagles exhibited solid forward play, dangerousness from the backline, and tough tackling against a highly physical German outfit dominated by players with mainly South African pedigrees.
This was a perfect first hit out for the Eagles to start their two test November tour and a great way to get ready for a very challenging fixture against Georgia in Tbilisi.
It’s always fun to watch the Eagles win so give this one a look if you haven’t already!
This match was open for the taking by whichever side wanted it more and eventually that proved to be South Africa. France fought hard to steal a victory in the waning minutes but simply ran out of time.
The final score would have been a bit wider for the victors but for several missed kicks by Springbok Handre Pollard who struggled with the boot.
Both teams showed flashes of the kind of play that their fans want to see from them but neither could sustain it for extended periods.
Quinnipiac and Central Washington have been the two best teams in NIRA for the last few years and this very competitive semifinal showed off their considerable skills and athleticism.
CWU looked to be in control with about twenty minutes to go in Connecticut but then QU suddenly kicked into gear and cruised into the final with a string of unanswered points.
Dartmouth was always going to be favored in this semi but Harvard made them work for the win and a berth in the final. After jumping out to a 17 – 0 lead, Dartmouth couldn’t put any more points on the board and had to rely on their stellar defense to hold off a surging Harvard team that came up just a try short.
Quinnipiac started the final on Sunday the same way they did the semi on Friday, very slowly and in a hole. But just like they did against Central Washington, Quinnipiac rallied, retook the lead, and never relinquished it.
A third straight national championship is a remarkable achievement and this one was particularly sweet, coming on their own field in front of their faithful fans.
If you want to see how much women’s rugby has progressed in the USA in recent years, watch this final and you are sure to be impressed!
LEINSTER V DRAGONS – Friday, Nov. 24 at 2:35 PM ET
After taking a couple of weeks off for the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the Autumn Internationals, the Guinness PRO14 kicks off again with Leinster hosting the Dragons in Dublin. This Conference B battle features teams headed in opposite directions as third place Leinster welcomes sixth place Dragons to the RDS.
This is absolutely the Tier Two test of the weekend as #12 Georgia hosts #17 United States in Tbilisi. In just a short period of time this has turned into a pretty intense rivalry with the Eagles winning three times and the Lelos twice in results dating back to 2009.
Their most recent test earlier this year at Kennesaw State was a tight affair that was mostly decided by Georgia’s superior scrummaging, despite a strong second half near comeback by the USA.
Expect plenty of physicality as Georgia sticks to their gameplan of dominating the set pieces and controlling territory. The United States doesn’t necessarily need to beat Georgia up front to win but they do need to sufficiently hold them off and avoid the penalties and the sinbinning that resulted from getting their scrum crushed in June.
I can’t wait to watch these two battle it out on Saturday morning!
England concludes the Old Mutual Wealth Series on Saturday against Samoa at Twickenham. In seven meetings dating back to 1995 England have never failed to beat Samoa by less than thirteen points.
These two nations have played four times at Twickenham and have also met in three different world cups, in Durban in 1995, in Melbourne in 2003, and in Nantes in 2007.
Samoa is experiencing plenty of negative off field financial issues at the moment but that won’s stop them from bringing their usual confrontational approach to the contest.
ENGLAND V CANADA (W) – Saturday, Nov. 25 at 12:40 PM ET
The third and final test of this series will be played at Twickenham after England’s men face off against Samoa. A win for Canada is somewhat unlikely but I do expect to see further improvement from them as they search for more creative ways to break through the England defensive line.
This is a great opportunity for both teams to play in front of a substantial crowd at a national level stadium and I am excited to see them perform accordingly.
France and Japan have only met three times previously, the last two coming in pool play at the 2003 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, with France taking all three encounters.
Les Bleus will be looking for their first win this Fall, having fallen to New Zealand and South Africa. France needs a win, especially since a first loss to Japan would probably get their coach Guy Noves fired!
Japan is gearing up to host RWC 2019 and have a strong desire to showcase their improvement on the pitch. Earlier on this tour they were hammered by Australia in Yokohama and then pounded Tonga in Toulouse. An upset win would likely see them crack the World Rankings Top Ten.
In addition to this weekend’s outstanding lineup, next week we’ll bring you the first round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series from Dubai, as well as the complete lineup of USA Rugby Fall Collegiate Championship matches from Furman, South Carolina.
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