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So far in 2017 we’ve shown you all fifteen matches from the Six Nations Championship, fifteen more from the Americas Rugby Championship, two complete tournaments from the HSBC Women’s Seven Series, eight rounds of the Guinness Pro12, twelve episodes of World Rugby TV, ten TRC Reports, and the business end of the Anglo Welsh Cup.
That’s already a whole lot of rugby and we’re still less than a quarter of the way into the year. And here’s the best part, there’s a bunch more to come.
Over the next three months we’ll show you all of the Eagles Tests (against Ireland, Georgia, and Canada twice), other June Tours tilts, the conclusion of the Guinness Pro12, the Greene King IPA Championship playoffs, three more HSBC Women’s Sevens Series stops, the USA Collegiate 7s and 15s Championships, and USA Rugby’s Club Championships.
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Last week we showed you three matches and they were all outstanding in their own way.
This was a tense affair that was highlighted by Cardiff’s ability to score from what seemed like nothing and Leinster’s refusal to give in when things didn’t go their way.
The scoring went back and forth all day long as Leinster built tries through patience and control and Cardiff retaliated with long tries from the slimmest of chances.
Cardiff is going to be a tough team to beat in their remaining games as they are looking more like the team that started with four consecutive wins than the one that lost five of their next six. They can’t make the playoffs but they can absolutely have a say in who does.
Cardiff led fairly late in the contest but Leinster was able to grit out a victory and keep their spot at the top of the table with 70 competition points.
Leinster’s next opponent in Round 19 wasn’t so fortunate. Ospreys rested perhaps too many of their regular starters as a way to give them an extra break after the conclusion of the Six Nations and it cost them big time in Italy as they fell to Benetton Treviso 13 – 5, which kept them in third with 64 points.
That failure to get even a losing bonus point certainly hurt the Welsh side’s chances of getting a home semifinal as they wind up their campaign with Leinster, Cardiff, Ulster, and Scarlets, all matches where points are not going to come cheaply.
The next few rounds in the Guinness Pro12 are going to be very interesting as some teams jockey just to make the postseason and others battle to host semifinals. And as the leaders’ internationals return to their lineups in full force, the overall quality of play and competition is certain to rise accordingly.
Glasgow needed a win over Connacht and they got it in the end, despite falling behind early and trailing at the half. Three tries in the second forty got them a bonus point and bumped them up to 51 points to keep themselves in sixth and within striking distance of Scarlets and Ulster, on 58 and 61, respectively.
Connacht played well in the first half, displaying their trademark ball retention and relentless defense, but faltered in the second as Glasgow’s abundance of talent wore them down. This Connacht team was hit by so many injuries this year that it’s a wonder they were still technically in the playoff hunt this late. The dream of repeating as Pro12 champs is now over but don’t expect the men in green to lessen their effort down the stretch when they play Zebre, Edinburgh, Leinster, Scarlets, and Munster.
Glasgow finish up with Munster, Zebre, Leinster, and Edinburgh. Unfortunately for them though, the two hardest games are in Ireland and the two easiest are in Scotland.
Munster are in second place with 68 points and are fortunate to play three of their last four matches at home against Glasgow, Ulster, and Connacht, with their only road game in Italy against Benetton Treviso.
The Rugby Channel will resume coverage of the Guinness Pro12 on April 8 with two fantastic clashes, Ospreys v Leinster and Munster v Glasgow. Then on April 15 we’ll have Munster v Ulster and Connacht v Leinster.
The closing month of the Guinness Pro12 promises to be action-packed so in order not to miss any of the upcoming crucial matches, subscribe now!
The thirty-fifth edition of the Army v Navy game was hard-fought and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Navy kicked their way to an early lead, Army regained the advantage temporarily, Navy threatened to run away with it, and Army staged a determined and stirring comeback.
Navy battered away at the Army line for seemingly endless minutes into extra time with a chance to snatch a late win but were unable to penetrate the Black Knights stout defense and eventually knocked the ball on and fell to defeat.
Army has built a tremendous rugby program at West Point and this year’s match was used to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Lee R. Anderson Sr. Rugby Complex along the banks of the Hudson River. The game features an interview with Mr. Anderson at halftime and you can feel the love he and other graduates have for the sport.
What’s especially great about these kinds of matches is watching the sheer joy of the players involved as they represent their institutions and their branches of service.
Rugby teams around the world have varying levels of history, pride, and tradition when it comes to taking on specific opponents but the cadets at the US Military Academy and the midshipmen at the US Naval Academy play against each other with an intensity that is close to international level.
The two aspects of the match that impressed me the most were, not surprisingly, the fitness and discipline of the combatants. After pounding each other ruthlessly for over eighty minutes, both sides continued to maintain their effort levels and avoid the kinds of penalties that creep into matches in the late going when physical exhaustion begets mental mistakes.
If you don’t normally watch much college rugby, give this one a look and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
UNITED STATES V CANADA – Saturday, April 1 at 6:00pm ET
The United States, ranked #7, and Canada, ranked #3 will square off in their second clash in five days when they meet on Saturday. Both countries are prepping their squads for the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup this August in Ireland but they are at decidedly different levels of readiness right now.
The Canadians are much more experienced, both individually and as a unit, with the majority of their starters having played in the 2014 WRWC Final against England.
The Eagles are missing several players because of injury - including recent captain for the November trip to France, Hope Rogers - and will be starting a much younger overall lineup.
In their first match on Tuesday in Chula Vista, California the Eagles played some positive rugby, moving the ball wide and attacking aggressively. But it was the Canadians who dominated the breakdown area and found plenty of gaps in the Eagles’ defense as they dotted down seven tries in a 39-5 win.
Saturday’s match will also be a chance for newer Eagles to impress and earn a place in the World Cup squad. Facing off against a solid team like Canada and achieving positive results will potentially help get them a seat on the plane to Ireland.
Canada has a chance to even up the overall series with the USA at 18 wins apiece and they are also getting ready for June tests against England, Australia, and New Zealand so don’t expect any let up from the red-clad women from north of the border on Saturday.
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