Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
ARC TITLE SHOWDOWN!
February was a huge month on The Rugby Channel and March is going to be even more massive so stop procrastinating, pay your dollar per week, and get your much-needed subscription to The Rugby Channel right now!
Here’s the most important reason why you need to do it this very instant.
The Americas Rugby Championship trophy will be up for grabs on Saturday when the Argentina XV and the United States clash and the only place to watch the decider LIVE is on The Rugby Channel.
Last weekend was packed with oval excitement. It began on Friday with the Scarlets’ upset of Munster, was followed on Saturday by the USA’s demolition of Chile, and finished up on Sunday with Italy’s controversial tactics versus England. Check out all the highlights from these and all the rest of the matches on TRC Report #40.
Here’s a quick VOD guide for last weekend, plus a look ahead to what’s upcoming.
The first half of this one went true to form. Munster dominated at home, scored three tries to none, and looked headed to yet another Thomond Park victory.
The second half saw a complete reversal. Scarlets outperformed on the road, scored three tries in six minutes, and won their twelfth in their last thirteen matches.
This tournament is now wide open and Scarlets are officially the hottest team in it. Definitely watch this one on VOD!
It took a while for the Eagles to get going in Santiago but once they did it was fun to watch. The United States scored eight tries and kept the Chileans from ever crossing the line.
The backrow trio of Todd Clever, Tony Lamborn, and Cam Dolan was responsible for a quartet of tries and replacements David Tameilau and Patrick Malcolm added three more.
Although it’s sometimes difficult to evaluate a team’s performance against an overmatched opponent like Chile, the USA looked solid in many different areas and have definitely shown overall improvement from Round 1 against Uruguay.
ARGENTINA XV 79 - 7 BRAZIL
Argentina hammered Brazil from start to finish in Tierra Del Fuego, scoring a dozen five pointers. The visitors did manage to score one try but other than that, it was an afternoon where the XV were fully in control.
If you want to see what the USA will be up against on Saturday in the Estadio Municipal, watch this offensive thrashing.
While certainly not the prettiest match of all time, it was unmistakably entertaining. Uruguay got their first win over Canada since 2002 by jumping out to an early lead and making it hold up throughout by matching the physicality of the opposition.
Despite never establishing any fluency to their play, it looked like Canada was going to be able to pull this one out at the end but came up just short when it counted. Los Teros simply pounded them in all facets of play and earned a hard-fought and very significant victory.
The Scottish resurgence is real. Their first win in a decade over Wales was sealed by tenacity and discipline at the breakdown, defensive aggression, and decisively striking offensively when chances were presented to do so.
The loss of stalwarts in key positions didn’t seem to bother Scotland as they pulled together as a team and kept Wales from capitalizing on the opportunities that they managed to create.
Wales looked the more dangerous side for much of this contest but couldn’t translate that potential into a win. Scotland were just too tough in the trenches and ultimately more determined to find the tryzone. This would have been a great day to be in attendance at Murrayfield.
Ireland put in a gutsy performance at the Aviva Stadium, doing just enough to beat a French team that never quite got on track in the wet conditions.
The Irish defense held firm throughout, which proved to be enough along with a Conor Murray sniping try, eleven points from the boot of Johnny Sexton, and a late penalty by Paddy Jackson.
Had a couple more passes stuck and a few knock-ons not occurred at crucial times, Ireland would have had a much more comfortable win.
This match was the talk of the rugby world and in order to understand it properly you’re going to have to check it out for yourself on our VOD feature, which I heartily encourage you to do.
Basically, the Italians decided to use the Laws of the Game in their favor by not contesting the ball after tackles, thus not forming rucks and allowing themselves get into England’s passing lanes without being offside.
It definitely worked in the first forty minutes as they were leading 10-5 at the half. The England team appeared thoroughly befuddled by the tactic and it wasn’t until late that the hosts pulled away for the win.
I believe that what Italy did at the direction of coaches Conor O’Shea and Brendan Venter was innovative, courageous, and showed great respect for England. They knew the Azzurri couldn’t realistically beat them with a regular gameplan so they came up with a perfectly legal way to introduce confusion and somehow tip the scales in their favor.
At the very least it’s interesting and worth your time to give it a look.
Cardiff are in seventh place with 37 points and essentially need to win out in order to secure a playoff berth. Munster have dropped to third place on 59 with their loss to Scarlets and will be intent upon getting a win and full points on Saturday.
Back in Round 2 in September, Cardiff defeated Munster 24-23 at Irish Independent Park, (click on the score to re-watch!) so the men in red will not take the Blues lightly. This should be a lively contest.
This is obviously the match of the round in the Guinness Pro12. Leinster are top of the log on 61, Scarlets are fourth on 53 and riding high after their road win over Munster.
The question on Saturday at the RDS is whether Scarlets’ recently rock-solid defense can contain the highest scoring team in the competition. It sure will be fun to watch and find out!
BRAZIL V CANADA – Friday, March 3 at 10:55 pm ET
Canada still has some hope of finishing third in the ARC - which is possible if they win and Uruguay loses to Chile – but this test will be all about finishing strong and building towards their RWC 2019 qualifying matches against the USA this Summer.
Brazil are once again likely to avoid the wooden spoon so they can throw caution to the wind and play fast and loose in front of their fans which will make this potentially exciting.
The Eagles have done what coach John Mitchell wanted at the beginning of the tournament, they’ve put themselves in position to win the title. All they have to do now is go into Estadio Municipal and play their best match of the tourney and knock off the defending champs.
Argentina has blasted through the ARC opposition thus far, scoring 201 points and allowing only 35. They have played with power up front and pace out wide to vanquish all comers, their only non-blowout coming in atrocious conditions in snowy Canada in Round 1.
Last year’s draw in Houston between the sides will give the Eagles belief in their ability to contain the young and supremely talented Argentina XV but it will take that and plenty of disciplined aggression, good decision making, and accurate handling to overcome the hosts in this finale.
The Eagles are playing in a Tier One country for a chance to win a very meaningful championship after four quality winning performances. What more could you ask for? Subscribe Now and watch LIVE as the United States battles for hardware!
URUGUAY V CHILE – Saturday, March 4 at 7:40 pm ET
Coming off their upset of Canada, Los Teros will be looking for a win at Estadio Churrua that will secure third place in the tourney. Chile will do their best to prevent that outcome but so far the Chileans have yet to register a single competition point in 2017.
Once again, The Rugby Channel will bring you a women’s sevens event in its entirety, from Pool Match 1 to the Cup Final.
On the opening day in Las Vegas the United States will square off against Ireland at 11:17 am, Spain at 2:02 pm, and Fiji at 4:47 pm.
The Eagles last outing in Sydney was highly successful and wildly entertaining when they blazed to the Cup Final before falling to Canada.
Alev Kelter will again captain the side in Vegas.
On Saturday March 4, the knockout rounds begin at 10:55 am ET.
March on The Rugby Channel will have the conclusion of the Americas Rugby Championship, more Guinness Pro12 fixtures, the Semifinals and Final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, the HSBC Women’s World Seven Series from Las Vegas, and the rest of the Six Nations.
Subscribe Now to The Rugby Channel and watch it all!