Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP & ANGLO-WELSH CUP!
Last week from Thursday to Sunday The Rugby Channel brought you incredible LIVE action from five competitions in four countries on three different continents. It was a four-day weekend packed with outstanding rugby and there will be many more just like it in the months ahead!
All you have to do to watch the world’s best rugby is Subscribe Now to The Rugby Channel for only $59.99 and all your 2018 spectating desires will be fulfilled.
And this week it’s imperative that you Subscribe Right Now because it’s the only way to watch the United States Eagles LIVE when they take on Argentina XV in their Americas Rugby Championship opener at StubHub Center in Carson, California on Saturday, February 3 at 8:00 PM ET!
The biggest surprise for our viewers last weekend was the addition of TOP 14 Rugby from France to the TRC lineup. The Top 14 is one of the finest rugby competitions on the planet and as a subscriber to The Rugby Channel you’ll get to watch two matches per week for the rest of this season and into the future.
France’s first division is loaded with powerhouse teams that have plenty of money to spend on the best players from all over the world. In addition to their considerable wealth of homegrown talent, the French clubs have internationals galore from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Britain, Georgia, the Pacific Islands, and North America.
For example, last week in our first two fixtures you would have seen Ma’a Nonu, Duane Vermeulen, JP Pietersen, Juandre Kruger, Vincent Clerc, Patricio Albacete, Dmitri Szarzewski, Donnacha Ryan, and Dan Carter in action.
Here’s how the first two contests went and as usual, they are both available on VOD!
Keep your eye on new tryscoring sensation Semi Radradra, a recent rugby league convert who is still learning the game and very fortunate to be playing outside of Ma’a Nonu. He only dotted down twice against Bordeaux but looked extremely dangerous whenever he got the ball into his hands.
Toulon probably would have run up an ever bigger scoreline at home but were hampered by a red card to Fijian gold medal winner Josua Tuisova for a dangerous tackle in the thirty-fourth minute.
Toulon’s bonus point win bumped them up to 43 points, currently good for fifth place with ten weeks left on the schedule.
This was a very important road win for Racing 92 as it got them to 50 points and into third place, 7 ahead of Castres who earned only a losing bonus point to reach 43. In the Top 14 the margin to receive a losing bonus point is five, not seven as in most competitions.
Castres had a good chance to win late as they pounded the Racing line for the last several minutes but couldn’t penetrate the opposition’s strong goal line defense.
This was some classic, hard-pounding French rugby and The Rugby Channel is going to give you even more of it when the Top 14 resumes on February 17-18 with Lyon hosting Clermont on Saturday and Racing 92 welcoming second place La Rochelle to the new U Arena outside of Paris on Sunday.
Also check out the Top 14 Highlights Show that covers all seven matches and nearly fifty tries from Round 16!
HSBC WOMEN’S SEVEN SERIES IN SYDNEY
This one didn’t go as planned for the United States as they lost some close matches and wound up finishing a disappointing eighth in Sydney. The biggest problem was a lack of sure tackling that led to early deficits in several matches followed by comebacks that came up just short.
Against England in their opener the Eagles went down 0-14, fought back, and scored at the very end to lose 24-28. Next up was a comprehensive 38-0 thrashing of Japan, then a nearly equal walloping by New Zealand 31-0 to close out pool play.
But because Japan unexpectedly defeated England, the United States made it into the Cup Quarterfinals and squared off against Russia on Saturday. Once again, poor tackling proved to be their downfall as Russia utilized their speed to take advantage early and move on while the USA was sent to a fifth-place semifinal versus Spain.
After trailing throughout that semi, the Eagles tied it near the very end but couldn’t contain Spain’s quick tapping Patricia Garcia as she nearly single-handedly won the match with her ever alert play.
The weekend wrapped up with another loss, this time to Ireland, where again they fell behind, mounted a furious comeback and didn’t quite get there.
Naya Tapper was a tryscoring machine in Sydney and Hope Rogers introduced her own unique straightforward running style to the event, causing quite a commotion and leaving more than a few bruised bodies in her wake.
The next stop for the women is in Kitakyushu, Japan on April 21-22, which The Rugby Channel will cover LIVE and in its entirety!
The third edition of the Americas Rugby Championship got underway in Vancouver on Saturday as Canada battled Uruguay in a match that was also the first leg of a home-and-home World Cup Qualifying series.
Canada led and controlled large portions of this match but couldn’t stop Los Teros from running in tries. The scoreline would have been even worse for the Canadians if Uruguayan kicker Felipe Berchesi hadn’t missed at least four relatively easy attempts at goal.
Uruguay are now looking like a very tough opponent for the USA when they meet in Montevideo on March 3 in the last round of the ARC tournament.
This would have been the upset of the season in the Greene King IPA Championship if Bedford had been able to hold on to their lead for another fifteen minutes. Bristol remain unbeaten but will face another stern challenge when they travel to London to face the second place Ealing Trailfinders in Round 15 - LIVE on The Rugby Channel – on Saturday, February 10 at 2:00 PM ET!
On Friday night Gloucester played a solid first half against a young Ospreys team at Kingsholm to take a 12-7 lead into the sheds. Ospreys scored right after the break to level the score but from that point on the Cherry and Whites looked a different outfit as they racked up five tries and ran out big winners.
The first forty minutes in this AWC clash produced zero points as both clubs defended well and neither took advantage of their opportunities. In the second forty Bath’s pressure and the experience of flyhalf Freddie Burns proved decisive as they converted three tries to the Falcons try and a penalty.
With 12 competition points, Bath now control their own destiny to win Pool 1.
Harlequins are comfortably atop Pool 2 with 15 points but will be shooting for a home semifinal which they can secure with a win over Northampton. The Saints are leading Pool 3 and can earn their own semi berth with a win.
It’s great when the last match of the round robin features two pool leaders with everything to play for and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you tune in LIVE to The Rugby Channel on Friday!
Wasps are out of the running for a postseason spot and can only play spoiler on Sunday, which they will gladly do if Leicester gives them the slightest opening. The Tigers are behind Newcastle Falcons only on points differential so they’ll be looking for a high scoring bonus point victory at the Ricoh Arena to continue their campaign.
CHILE v BRAZIL – Saturday, Feb. 3 at 7:00 PM ET
Chile has dominated the overall series dating back to 1951 with 21 wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws. But in the ARC, they are tied 1-1 and when they played in Santiago in 2016 Brazil came very close to upsetting Chile. This will be a fun one to watch!
Eventually one of these teams is going to win an ARC match against the other. What exactly are the odds of three consecutive draws?
In 2016 they finished 35-35 in Houston with Argentina converting a seventy-ninth minute try to salvage the draw.
In 2017 the United States converted a try at the death to earn the draw and also a four try bonus point which gave them their first ARC title.
What sort of late heroics are in store for Saturday? You’ll have to subscribe to and watch The Rugby Channel to find out!
The curtain raiser for the United States versus Argentina XV match is a D1A fixture that promises to provide some entertaining high level collegiate rugby. 2-0 UCLA will have their hands full with #13 Arizona in a PAC conference clash.
The month of February alone is worth the $59.99 price of an annual subscription so don’t delay, Subscribe Now and watch your Eagles LIVE in every ARC match in 2018!