Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
FRA v NZ, ENG v ARG, WPL, IVY & AW CUP!!
The Rugby Channel’s November to Remember continues this weekend with another slew of incredible matches that will keep you glued to your favorite viewing device.
Having a TRC annual subscription last weekend would have given you access to amazing collegiate rugby from Colorado Springs and Columbus, tour exhibition rugby of the highest standard from London, outstanding Guinness PRO14 rugby from Edinburgh and Galway, plus thrilling Anglo-Welsh rugby from Leicester and Hendon.
If you’re not a subscriber yet, become one as soon as possible because you’ll need to catch up on everything that happened last week though our Video On Demand option in order to get ready for the phenomenal set of fixtures on tap from Friday through Sunday.
Here’s what happened and what’s upcoming.
The Air Force Academy Zoomies have had more historical success in rugby at the national level than Army West Point but that proud tradition couldn’t help them stop the Black Knights from rampaging all over their pitch on Friday afternoon.
Army scored almost at will for eighty minutes as they clearly had more overall talent and played better rugby from start to finish. To their credit, Air Force went hard the whole time but critical mistakes were pounced on by the visitors and inevitably turned into scores.
The scoreline for this match isn’t a true reflection of how close and hard-fought it really was. Ohio State managed to dot down a few late tries that put the match out of reach at the very end but until then it was tight, dramatic, and up for grabs.
By winning this match Ohio State earned the right to face Indiana in the Big Ten Championship.
It was definitely a bit odd to see a Barbarians side with so many former All Blacks and other Kiwis taking on New Zealand at Twickenham but it certainly made for a highly entertaining contest.
The Barbarians jumped out to an early lead and carried a 17 – 5 advantage into the halftime break but the All Blacks scored three tries in about ten minutes to pull away and secure the win.
The Barbarians displayed both forward grit and backline strike power and threatened to pull off the upset. In the end though, even an understrength New Zealand just had too much athleticism, discipline, and total confidence in their ability to be beaten by a thrown together Barbarians squad, no matter how talented and well-coached they were.
Next up for New Zealand is a clash with France on Saturday, LIVE and exclusive in the USA on The Rugby Channel.
Edinburgh is a totally different outfit this year under the leadership of new coach Richard Cockerill. Yes, Edinburgh has added some new blood to the team but where they have improved the most is in the adoption of the confrontational style of rugby favored by their coach.
After a pretty close first forty where they led 16 – 10 at half, Edinburgh dominated the second forty, scored three more tries, and earned a well-deserved bonus point. They now find themselves in fourth place with 23 points from five wins and three losses in Conference B. Watch out for this team going forward, especially at home at Myreside.
Connacht is another team that has a new coach this season and is trying to get back to the form that led to their first ever championship in 2015/16. Kieran Keane’s side got off to a slow start this year but have rebounded significantly of late, beating Munster and the Cheetahs in consecutive weeks. Those wins have pushed them up to the fourth spot in Conference A with 16 points.
The Cheetahs scored a couple of late tries to make the final tally appear closer than it was but were ultimately done in by handling errors and penalties whenever they approached Connacht’s tryline. Their only road win so far in the competition came against Zebre in Italy but they have won three of four in South Africa, giving them 20 points overall with a 4 – 4 record, good for third place after eight rounds.
The Tigers got their Anglo-Welsh Cup title defense off to a quality start with a come from behind win over the Cherry and Whites at Welford Road. This match was a massive battle for the full eighty and it looked like the visitors were going to go up by a point with three minutes to play but instead missed a relatively easy penalty and lost by two.
The Rugby Channel will deliver Leicester’s second AW Cup match this Friday when they travel to Bath.
Watch this match! In fact, I demand that you Subscribe Right Now, then utilize TRC’s VOD system to check it out.
Sarries were at home at Allianz Park, up 26 – 5 with about twenty-five minutes to play, and cruising for an opening round win. But then Harlequins stormed all the way back, got the ball off a turnover at about their own 22 with less than a minute left on the clock and proceeded to take it eighty meters through thirty phases to score a final try and kick a match-winning conversion. Absolutely beautiful!
After eight rounds of often fierce competition the Women’s Premier League Finals get underway with five LIVE semifinal matches on Friday in Tucson, Arizona.
Day One will feature ORSU vs DC Furies at Noon ET, Atlanta vs North Shore at 1:45 PM ET, Amazons vs Berkeley at 3:30 PM ET, Glendale vs Beantown at 5:15 PM ET, and New York vs San Diego at 7:00 PM ET.
WPL FINALS – Sunday, Nov. 12 at 12:00 PM ET
On Sunday the finals for 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st place will start at Noon ET and continue until a champion is crowned!
England and Argentina are two countries with very different results over the last twelve months.
Going back one year, Argentina has lost eleven of their last twelve tests, including two close ones at home to a Lions-less England squad in June.
In that same time period, England has played eleven and lost just once, to Ireland at Lansdowne Road in the Six Nations finale.
This will no doubt be entertaining though, because England will want to get their Autumn campaign off to a good start and Argentina will seek to earn their second ever victory over the hosts at Twickenham.
You can go ahead and throw out recent results whenever France and New Zealand face off because even though on paper the All Blacks should generally win, sometimes they don’t and when that happens it’s a huge deal!
Here is an astonishing fact. France has never beaten New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint Denis but they have beaten them in Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, Colombes, and Paris (at Parc des Princes).
The last time these two met was almost a year ago and even though the All Blacks eked out a narrow victory, Les Bleus could have won had they capitalized on their domination of territory and possession.
This matchup is always inherently fun to watch so don’t miss it!
Dartmouth went 7 – 0 in league play this Fall to finish first while Harvard was second with a 5 – 2 record. On Saturday the two schools will play for the Ivy Rugby Conference title in New Hampshire, LIVE on The Rugby Channel.
Bath also won in the first round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup, beating London Irish 26 – 22 for a critical road victory. This week they’re home at The Rec and looking to take a decisive lead in Pool 1, as both Wasps and Gloucester fell to defeat in the opening round.
SCARLETS V EXETER – Sunday, Nov. 12 at 10:00 AM ET
The Scarlets are in Pool 3 with Northampton, Saracens, and Worcester, all three of which lost last weekend, so a victory over Exeter would give them a boost on the group since no Welsh sides played in the first round.
Exeter opened their campaign with a comfortable 43 – 28 win over Northampton but pool mates Harlequins and Sale were also victorious, so a triumph in Llanelli will probably be needed just to keep pace.
A subscription to The Rugby Channel will cost you just $7.99 per month. For that paltry sum this weekend alone you’ll get 10 WPL Finals matches, 2 Fall tests featuring four of the world’s top ten teams, the Ivy League Championship, and 2 more sure to be exciting Anglo-Welsh Cup clashes.
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