19 Jul 2017

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column


The Rugby Channel’s second weekend of Sevens action took place on the campus of Cal State Long Beach on a hot and sunny Southern California Saturday. The Sunsplash 7s was hosted by Belmont Shore and produced two entertaining finals.

First up the San Diego Surfers booked their spot at the Club 7s National Championships with a comprehensive performance in the Women’s Qualifier Final against the Santa Barbara Academy team. After initially falling behind 0 – 5, the Surfers crossed the tryline five times to run out winners 29 – 5 and secure their berth in Minnesota.

The Surfers will be bringing an extremely talented side to the National Sports Center three weeks from now and are definitely going to be serious contenders to once again win it all, an accomplishment they last achieved in 2014.

The second final featured Belmont Shore taking on Santa Monica in the Men’s Qualifier. Belmont was clearly the stronger club on the day, having gotten into the final by beating their own second side. The hosts scored four tries to the Dolphins’ one and cruised to within a whisker of qualification to nationals with a 26 – 5 victory.

Belmont Shore is thus in an enviable position heading into this weekend’s tourney in Santa Monica. They basically just have to show up to qualify so they are now free to experiment with combinations and can let their guys show why they should make the travelling squad to Blaine, Minnesota. Nothing like good old-fashioned competition for positions to bring out the best in players!

You can watch the Women’s Final by clicking here, and the Men’s Final by clicking here. Both are good previews of teams that are looking to be in the mix when national titles are on the line in August.

Highlights of the San Diego v Santa Barbara match are also included in TRC Report #60 this week. The Report also gives you a great package from Episode 128 of World Rugby TV focused on the third New Zealand v Lions test from Eden Park, a match that will possibly go down in history as the most meaningful draw ever, complete with a controversial referee’s call at the end.

And once again TRC Report has dug deep into The Rugby Channel’s Video On Demand vault for a combined Archive Pick and Try of the Week with a score by Rob Duncanson of the United States against an England XV at Twickenham in 1977! The black and white footage makes the clip seem like it came from longer ago than forty years but the try itself is as exciting now as it was the day it was scored, despite only being worth four points!

SANTA MONICA 7s – Saturday, July 22 at 5:00 PM ET

This is the last Men’s Qualifier tournament for nationals but with Belmont Shore virtually guaranteed a slot, the real battle will be for the second qualifying position for the Pacific South. That means that there will be everything to play for among the other top sides, including the hosts, Santa Monica.

The Dolphins have set forth an ambitious agenda for the future and a big part of that includes making it to nationals and doing well there. None of the other teams in attendance on Saturday are going to give it to them though, so they’ll have to earn it on the pitch at Santa Monica High School. This will make for entertaining viewing and I heartily encourage you to either watch it unfold LIVE or catch it later through our VOD option.


These programs are always filled with good stuff but this particular episode has numerous parts that are required viewing. The opening segment on the Eden Park clash between the All Blacks and the Lions has already been discussed and was included in the TRC Report but that’s just the beginning.

That piece is followed by one that discusses the enormous economic impact that Lions Tours have on the host countries and the amazing number of supporters who quadrennially make the trek to the Southern Hemisphere to watch their favorites take on the All Blacks, Wallabies, and Springboks. The closeness of this year’s edition of the tour, ending in a drawn series, will obviously stoke interest in the next journey to South Africa in 2021.

Then there are highlights from an Oceania RWC qualifying match between Tonga and Fiji, always a quality encounter. The Fijians nailed down their spot in Pool D along with Australia, Wales, Georgia, and the still to be determined Americas 2, which will be either Canada or Uruguay. Fiji’s qualification in Pool D creates a whole bunch of mouth-watering pool matches when the tourney finally kicks off in 2019.

The Africa Gold Cup is the next stop, along with lots of try-scoring by Namibia and Kenya. Earning the Africa 1 spot in Pool B is the main goal here but the continued development of the game in Africa is close behind as an objective.     

The episode concludes with a look at what features might be included in the rugby stadiums of the future with a high-profile architect and several prominent players. The sky seems to be the limit on connectivity and viewer experience but as always, location is still of primary importance.

Where exactly will the first brand new, fully high- tech rugby stadium be built with all the bells and whistles? How about in the USA?


You just never know what the most interesting part of Toyota Grassroots Rugby is going to be. This week you’ll have to watch it all to make your selection because there are several contenders.

The match between Southern and Rakaia in Mid Canterbury is a distinct possibility with its high scoring and come from behind finish at the death.

Another potential choice is the piece about blind and low-vision rugby, a niche of the sport that I was totally unaware of before watching this episode. New Zealand Blind took on the Blind Lions in a three-test series and the visitors took the honors with a sweep.

There are several modifications to the game such as blow-up goal posts, a ball that makes noise, two-handed touch, and seven players per side but all you have to do is see the full enjoyment on the faces of the participants to realize that making the game accessible to all has to remain a core goal of the sport.

The penultimate segment has host Ian Jones visiting the Ponsonby Rugby Club and talking with various VIPs, members and guests about the Lions Tour and the welcoming attitude and hospitality that Ponsonby exhibited towards their red clad visitors.

And finally, an interview with Tim Boys, Southland and former Highlander flanker, back playing for his club Midlands and obviously enjoying himself.

I can’t think of any other contact sport where professionals occasionally turn out for amateur sides, whether it be to help them win or just to get themselves into shape or return from injury. It’s yet another dimension that sets rugby apart from everything else.


Here’s a programming note for you about an event you absolutely shouldn’t miss. The Can-Am Rugby Tournament is America’s largest with over 100 teams taking part in nine different brackets and is known far and wide as a must attend at least once in every rugger’s career.

This year The Rugby Channel will bring you three championship finals on Sunday, July 30th with the Women, Over-35, and Club divisions having been chosen to represent the monumental gathering in Saranac Lake, New York.

I went to this tourney back in 2001 and was fully impressed by every aspect of it and I’m sure you will be too when we bring it to you LIVE!


Don’t wait to subscribe to The Rugby Channel because every day you delay you are missing something that will fill the rugby needing hole in your life. For less than a buck a week you can fully satiate the need to see the best game on the planet.

More sevens tournaments, weekly rugby shows, the Can-Am finals, the Singha Premiership Sevens, and the Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championships are just some of the programming beauties we’re delivering this Summer but before you know it the Guinness Pro12 will kick off again and the cycle will begin anew, another season of glorious oval action awaits! Subscribe Now and it’s all yours.