Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
ARC & 6N ROUND 2 + GP12!
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Last week was the busiest yet in the short history of The Rugby Channel as we brought you matches from Edinburgh, Hendon, Langford, London, Northampton, Rome, San Antonio, Sao Paolo and Sydney.
This week we’ll have the Guinness Pro12 from Scotland and Ireland, the America’s Rugby Championship from Argentina, Canada, and the United States, and the Six Nations from Italy, Wales, and France.
Here’s a quick look back at all the action from last week that is available for you to watch on VOD.
The United States did way more than put in a good showing, they advanced all the way to the Cup Final by beating heavyweights like England and New Zealand.
Go back and watch their knockout round matches to really see the defensive determination and offensive pace and power they exhibited in Sydney.
Even though they eventually had to settle for second place overall behind Canada, their play over the two days of the tourney showed that the Eagles are just a little bit of consistency away from being a powerful force on the circuit.
Check out the play of Naya Tapper and Alev Kelter in particular to glimpse a superstar in the making and a contender for best player in the world, respectively. Once Tapper gets a little more experience in the defensive sphere she’s going to be ultra-dangerous and Kelter is already among the top athletes in the competition.
If you’re a Saints fan, then this is the match for you. Otherwise, catch the highlights either in TRC Report 37 or in our Anglo Welsh Cup Round 4 Highlights Show which has every match from the last round of pool play.
This was a quality match from start to finish. Sarries jumped out to a big lead initially, Tigers showed their class and fought their way back into it, then Saracens held on and put it away at the end.
What’s most entertaining about this clash is that because of the result, these same two teams will be meeting in the Anglo Welsh Cup semifinal on March 11th, again at Allianz Park and LIVE on the Rugby Channel.
Brazil opened the ARC in the best possible fashion, by beating longtime rivals Chile on a rainy night in Sao Paolo. The Brazilians were still smarting from a close loss last year in the ARC inaugural match and were able to almost entirely shut down the Chilean attack.
If you didn’t catch this one LIVE on The Rugby Channel then I suggest you immediately watch it on VOD. Los Teros surprised no one by being very tough up front and showing that they could finish from in close.
The United States displayed real grit after falling behind by battling back and holding on at the end when it looked like Uruguay was going to drive a maul over for the winning score.
The bench played a huge role in this one as tired bodies were replaced by fresh ones that added real pep to the Eagles in the second half.
This match was played in atrocious conditions and the rugby suffered as a result. It was unfortunate to see snow covering most of the synthetic pitch with patches of cleared lines that then became puddles of icy water.
Neither team really got a chance to show what they could do as the match devolved into a contest to see who could battle the elements best. We’ll have to wait until this weekend to see exactly what Canada and Argentina XV are truly capable of.
If you only have time to watch one match this week on VOD, I suggest that it be this one!
Murrayfield was buzzing with energy and the Scotland team didn’t disappoint. Instead of playing a gutsy match for most of eighty minutes then falling apart at the end - which has happened more than once in Edinburgh – Vern Cotter’s side relinquished their lead only briefly before snatching it back through the boot of Greig Laidlaw.
Ireland didn’t play badly and didn’t give the match away. Scotland simply wanted it more and made enough tackles to prove it.
In any long winning streak there are going to be scary moments where it looks like all is lost. England definitely didn’t intend to leave it until the 70th minute to go ahead of France at Twickenham but they never panicked and eventually it all came right in the late going.
Apparently the loss of players like the Vunipola Brothers and George Kruis had a significant effect on England’s ability to dominate up front and at the breakdown against the very physical and huge French team.
Italy looked like two different teams against Wales. In the first half they were disciplined, accurate, and efficient in making tackles and playing at the breakdown. In the second forty their defensive order slackened and the Welsh ran in three tries and a total of thirty unanswered points.
That’s a lot of rugby to squeeze into a short amount of time but get ready to do it again because this weekend The Rugby Channel is going to bring you two Guinness Pro12 matches, three Americas Rugby Championship fixtures, and three Six Nations tests!
GLASGOW V SCARLETS – Friday, Feb. 10 at 2:35 pm ET
The Rugby Channel’s LIVE coverage of the Guinness Pro12 gets back underway with the best and most important match of the round as fourth place Glasgow meets fifth place Scarlets at Scotstoun Stadium. Scarlets beat them up pretty good in November winning 27 - 3 at Parc Y Scarlets but Glasgow is the hotter team at the moment. This should be a good one!
MUNSTER V NEWPORT – Friday, Feb. 10 at 2:35 pm ET
Munster are top of the table and Newport are tenth. They played close at Rodney Parade nearly five months ago in Round 3 when Munster eked out a 20 – 16 win. Munster will be somewhat depleted with numerous players on Ireland duty but they should still have enough firepower to get the job done at Irish Independent Park.
These two nations have only met once before and Brazil were the victors. The United States’ loss in Barueri in the penultimate round of the inaugural ARC essentially ended their chances of winning the tournament. Saturday evening in Round Rock, Texas the Eagles will be looking to erase that memory and create a new one that involves a big win in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
ARGENTINA XV V URUGUAY – Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10:50 pm ET
Argentina will be happy to get back to some decent weather after their experience in Canada. They’ll also want to continue their winning ways by toppling their smaller neighbor for the forty-second consecutive time. Uruguay will throw everything they’ve got at them and hope for some breaks and some luck. Even though the fixtures with the Argentina XV in the ARC are not test matches, I doubt that anyone wearing a blue shirt in Bahia Blanca will play any less hard because of that technical designation.
CANADA V CHILE – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1:40 am ET
Canada easily handled Chile 64-13 last year in Santiago in their third ever meeting. The weather is expected to cooperate with a balmy 46 degrees in the forecast for Saturday, a marked improvement over the nasty conditions of the opening round, which should allow fans to at least see a decent spectacle.
ITALY V IRELAND – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 9:25 am ET
Italy coach Conor O’Shea will be leading his current team against the one he amassed 35 caps for back in the 1990’s. His squad played forty good minutes last week in Rome then inexplicably but predictably faltered in the second half. Ireland were badly stung by their loss to Scotland and will be in search of a comprehensive performance to get their tourney back on track.
WALES V ENGLAND – Sunday, Feb. 12 at 11:50 am ET
Whenever these two rugby powers meet it’s almost invariably an interesting event, especially when it’s in Cardiff. England underperformed against France, Wales took a while to get going against the Azzurri. I’m looking for fireworks early and late in this one and can’t wait to watch!
FRANCE V SCOTLAND – Monday, Feb. 13 at 10:00 am ET
Scotland’s win over Ireland in Round 1 has Scottish fans dreaming big. France’s near upset of England shows that they are at least on the right track. Can Scotland continue to defend like demons against the powerful French? Can France punish a weakened Scottish scrum and unleash all their skill and speed? Getting those questions answered is why we’ll all be watching!
If you want to watch any or all of the rugby on offer this weekend on The Rugby Channel then you can’t afford not to subscribe right this instant because that’s the only way you can watch it!