Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
EARLY 2017 IS FULL OF RUGBY!
The ending of every calendar year naturally engenders a desire to look forward to what’s going to happen in the next one. In most areas of life what the future holds is somewhat of a mystery but at The Rugby Channel we know exactly what’s in store, another year filled with outstanding rugby!
And the best part is that you can watch as much of the upcoming rugby as you want simply by purchasing a subscription to The Rugby Channel for less than a dollar per week. If you’ve already bought one, get another for a friend, a loved one, a teammate, or just someone who you think would enjoy this beautiful game and the variety of competitions that we deliver.
Here’s what’s on tap in the early part of 2017.
BERMUDA WORLD RUGBY CLASSIC
Well, technically this is available in 2016 on December 26th but after seeing the show you’re probably going to want to watch it again in 2017.
The Classic is an epic event. Eight teams filled with former internationals spend a week playing hard rugby, actively socializing, and heartily enjoying the beauty of Bermuda.
Bermudans are rugby crazy and they absolutely love the classic.
Visitors from all over the globe make the trek to watch it on an annual basis.
Players vie for invitations to once again represent their country in meaningful competition.
The World Rugby Classic harkens back to a time when players from opposing nations actually got to know each other over a beer at the post-match function and genuine friendships were forged.
This year’s tourney featured Argentina, Canada, the Classic Lions, France, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA. Definitely make the time to watch this one because the upside is that you’ll probably enjoy it so much you’ll find yourself figuring out how attend in 2017!
This competition is really going to shift into overdrive when it resumes on December 26th. And what better way to get it re-started than to have the top two teams going at it, Munster and Leinster doing battle at Thomond Park in Limerick.
These two Irish provincial sides are separated only by points differential at the top of the Guinness Pro12 ladder and the Munstermen will want a measure of revenge after having been beaten by the Leinstermen at the Aviva Stadium back in early October.
The next fixture you’ll get to watch is on December 27th and it also promises to be a fiercely contested encounter, Ospreys vs Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea. These two Welsh outfits just happen to be placed third and fourth in the standings with Ospreys leading the comp in tries and Scarlets on a seven-match winning streak.
Pro12 excitement is about to skyrocket with these kinds of clashes and as playoff time gets closer and every point becomes vitally important, look for the level of effort and intensity to ratchet up accordingly.
ANGLO WELSH CUP
Our next batch of Anglo Welsh Cup fixtures come at the end of January with Bath taking on Gloucester at The Recreation Ground and Leicester hosting Northampton at Welford Road.
As this competition continues, the ferocity of the teams’ play will increase in proportion to how much of a chance they feel they have to win the title. At this early stage, all of them probably feel like they are either looking good or still in with a chance of taking home some silverware at the end of March.
Don’t underestimate how much the teams involved want to win and hoist the trophy. For some sides, a win may salvage a season that’s not going so well in their main competition. For others, a title might propel them to even further victories, domestically and in Europe, and thus afford them the rare and highly coveted double or even triple championships.
Rugby’s Greatest Championship is how the organizers bill their tourney and they’ve certainly got a strong argument in their favor.
No other competition packs as much tradition, raw emotion, and longstanding rivalry into fifteen matches spread over five rounds.
All five weekends feature must-see matchups between historic rivals, evenly matched challengers, and dangerous underdogs who threaten to upend the favorites.
The first weekend will have Scotland taking on Ireland at Murrayfield, England squaring off against France at Twickenham, and Italy hosting Wales at Stadio Olimpico. All three matches would be fantastic to attend, or you can save yourself several thousand dollars on airfare, accommodations and tickets and watch all three on The Rugby Channel as part of your subscription.
The Six Nations has a bit of a wrinkle this year - on a trial basis only - they will be using bonus points. The last major tournament to institute utilizing this type of system has finally decided to reward try scoring and keeping matches close at the end. Severe traditionalists will likely be upset and decry the ugly modernization of it all, but I tend to think it can only enhance the competition.
All fifteen contests will be shown on a twenty-hour hour delay on VOD on The Rugby Channel.
AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
Sometime in the future, rugby fans will look back on these early years of the Americas Rugby Championship with the same reverence and awe that we do now on the tourney that’s currently called the Six Nations.
The 2016 inaugural ARC clearly showed that rugby in the Americas is a desirable product and well worth watching.
Last year The Rugby Channel was only allowed to present the three USA home matches, an issue that has fortunately been favorably resolved. In 2017, The Rugby Channel will bring its subscribers all five of the United States Eagles matches LIVE and will also show the other ten matches from the tournament on VOD, available four hours after each fulltime whistle.
The Eagles will have two home fixtures in 2017, February 4th against Uruguay at Toyota Field in San Antonio and February 11th versus Brazil at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas.
On February 18th the Eagles will head north to face old rivals Canada in Burnaby BC at Swangard Stadium before heading south to visit Chile and Argentina on February 25th and March 4th.
HSBC WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES
The next stop for the women will be in Sydney, Australia on February 2nd and 3rd. Just like Dubai, The Rugby Channel will deliver the complete tournament from pool play through to the crowning of a Cup Champion.
This will be the perfect way to get ready for a huge weekend of rugby. Stay up late and spend Thursday and Friday watching the sevens before hunkering down for Americas Rugby Championship and Six Nations action!
This week’s TRC Report #31 focuses on the USA Rugby College Fall Championships. Congratulations to Notre Dame College, the Air Force Academy, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, and Davenport University on their well-deserved victories.
Next week, beginning on Tuesday, December 20th you will definitely want to check out TRC’s Year In Review.
The show will offer up a multitude of tries from the competitions we’ve been proud to bring you in 2016, plus the Match of the Year and the Try of the Year.
2017 promises to be another banner year for The Rugby Channel so now is the time to subscribe for less than a dollar per week.
All of the comps detailed above come in the first part of the year and what we have lined up for the second part is just as good, if not better!
We’ll bring you more June Tours, Fall Tours, USA Rugby domestic championships at club and college level, and plenty more Sevens from around the globe.
Subscribe now and you can watch it all, plus get access to the always expanding archive!