Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
ARC & 6N KICK OFF!
Get ready for some fun rugby!
Becoming a subscriber to The Rugby Channel right now for less than a single dollar per week will enable you to watch an unprecedented amount of action from now through Monday.
Here’s what we’ve got coming up for you this weekend.
Two full days of LIVE coverage from the Sydney Sevens, two vital Anglo Welsh Cup encounters, three clashes from the opening weekend of the Americas Rugby Championship, and a trio of tests from the first round of the Six Nations.
Let’s first take a look at last week’s battles in the Anglo Welsh Cup.
Wet conditions at The Recreation Ground initially looked to have created a dull affair with Bath already out of contention and Gloucester needing a win, but both sides played positive rugby and produced a highly entertaining draw.
The Cherry and Whites scored a very late converted try that drew them level against the hosts. Check out the highlights here or click on the title above to watch the complete match.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead, gave some of it back, eventually took control, and then allowed the Saints to squeeze a bonus point out of the contest with a late try.
This match deserves a full look - click on the scoreline above - but if you can only spare the time for a glimpse at the highlights, click here.
As with the previous two rounds of this competition we are pleased to bring you a comprehensive highlights show covering all eight matches from last weekend.
Hosts Andy Goode and David Flatman take you through the entire round so that you can get a feel for what we’ll show in the fourth and final round of pool play.
Despite their loss to Leicester, Northampton are very much still in the running to win Pool 1. They currently sit on 9 points, 3 behind Saracens. There are some bonus point possibilities and tiebreaker scenarios in play but basically all the Saints need to do is beat the Scarlets and then hope that they get some help from the Tigers on Sunday.
Scarlets will be playing for pride on Friday and to regain their form ahead of the re-start of the Guinness Pro12 on February 10 in Round 14 when they square off against red-hot Glasgow in a match that will be shown LIVE on The Rugby Channel.
SARACENS V LEICESTER – Sunday, Feb. 5 at 11:00 am ET
The 2014/2015 Anglo Welsh Cup champions are not going to go down without a fight in their quest to defend their crown. Remember, the AWC wasn’t played in 2015/16 because of the Rugby World Cup so technically Saracens are still the reigning champs.
A win over the Tigers on Sunday will put Saracens into the AWC semifinals. A four-try bonus point win will give them a home semifinal so they’ll have plenty to play for.
Leicester have already won their pool and can’t be caught but they still need a road victory to ensure that they will be hosting a semi in the second weekend of March.
Our full slate of international action kicks off with pool play from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series LIVE from Sydney, Australia.
The United States plays in Match 2 against Russia, Match 7 versus England, and wraps up Day One taking on Spain in Match 13.
Other notable matchups on the first day include Australia v Fiji in Match 16 and New Zealand v Canada in Match 18.
All of the games can be watched LIVE or check them out later individually on VOD.
Day Two featuring the quarters, semis, and finals gets going on Friday at 6:00 pm ET.
AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
For all five of the USA matches The Rugby Channel will bring you LIVE coverage. For the remaining ten fixtures, availability on VOD will be four hours after the final whistle
BRAZIL V CHILE – Friday, Feb. 3 at 10:55 pm ET
These traditional rivals have been going at it since 1951 and Chile holds a 24-2-2 advantage.
Brazil came close to beating Los Condores last year in the inaugural match of the tourney in Santiago. This time they’ll be at home in Sao Paolo to try to pull off the upset.
Chile earned the wooden spoon in the 2016 ARC by ending up one point behind Brazil, a finish that they have every intention of not repeating in 2017.
This is a must-win test for the Eagles. They are ranked higher than Los Teros, they lost to them last year in Montevideo, they need to start the competition off with a bang, and they’ll likely have their best available team of the tourney in San Antonio. A win on Saturday starts up front and if the Eagles don’t get the upper hand in tight, they could be in for a tough outing.
Uruguay finished fourth in the 2016 ARC. They had close wins over the USA, Brazil, and Chile, pushed Argentina to the limit, and were soundly beaten by Canada. A road win right out of the gate would give them a huge confidence boost but it will take a massive effort and near perfect performance to defeat the home side.
CANADA V ARGENTINA XV – Sunday, Feb. 5 at 1:40 am ET
Canada is obviously in rebuilding mode with nine uncapped players in their ARC squad and a decided dearth of overseas professionals from Europe requested to make the trip home.
Coach Mark Anscombe isn’t shy about declaring his intention to get a good look at his newcomers, mixed with locally based veterans, as he builds toward RWC 2019 and the upcoming qualifying matches that will get them there.
That doesn’t mean that the Argentina XV will have an easy go in Langford though as Canada at home are quite capable of turning the tables on the Argentineans after they were thrashed by them last year in Rosario.
The Rugby Channel’s Six Nations coverage includes all fifteen matches on a 24-hour delay from the time of kickoff.
SCOTLAND V IRELAND – Sunday, Feb. 5 at 9:25 am ET
Scotland is definitely on the upswing. Their two professional franchises - Glasgow and Edinburgh – are both into the knockout rounds in Europe and filled with talent, they beat Argentina in November and nearly knocked off Australia as well.
They have also not won their first match of the championship since 2006 or beaten Ireland since 2013. A win at Murrayfield in Round 1 would throw the tourney into chaos and delight a multitude of Scottish supporters.
Ireland will be without normal starting outhalf Johnny Sexton for their opener. His absence will be most dearly felt in backline continuity and kicking nerve.
Ireland wants to get back to winning ways after tripping badly in the 2016 comp following two consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015. They don’t need anything fancy in Edinburgh, just a solid performance with very few mistakes and they should come out on top.
I don’t think too many rugby fans will be shocked if Eddie Jones’ England team deals with France in an efficient and ruthless manner and gets their tournament off to a winning start despite missing some outstanding players.
At the same time, there’s lots of talk about how Guy Noves’ France side was really starting to come together in the Fall and how England might be in for a rude awakening at Twickenham. You never know with Les Bleus, which makes this one fun to watch no matter how it goes!
ITALY V WALES – Monday, Feb. 6 at 9:00 am ET
Italy needs a win in Rome but almost more importantly, they need to not get blown out again by Wales like they did last year, 67 –14.
Coach Conor O’Shea has worked wonders with his side so far – the win over South Africa in November was historic – but now he needs consistency of effort and an extreme lessening of the errors that have seemingly always plagued the Azzurri.
Wales had a pretty good Six Nations in 2016 finishing second with three wins, a loss, and a draw. They now head into 2017 after a solid November that saw them beat Argentina, Japan, and South Africa.
A solid mix of vets and youngsters will give the side renewed energy as they look for their first title since 2013 under temporary coach Rob Howley.
The proposition before you is simple. If you subscribe to The Rugby Channel right this instant for less than a buck a week then this weekend you will get to watch 34 sevens matches from Sydney, 2 meaningful Anglo Welsh Cup games, 3 tests from the Six Nations, and 3 Americas Rugby Championship contests, including your United States Eagles. Now is the time, Subscribe Now!