Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
DUBLIN, LIMERICK, SLC & GLENDALE!
Last Saturday The Rugby Channel delivered a thriller in Galway, a tryfest in Madison, one men’s blowout and one awesome women’s contest in Glendale.
In what’s becoming a typical weekend for TRC, as a subscriber you could’ve watched a Guinness PRO14 battle, a Division 1A collegiate clash between Big 10 powers, a fixture featuring recent men’s club D1 and PRP champions, plus the meeting of a top WPL side and one of the premier women’s college programs in the country.
And all of that action would have cost you less than a single dollar per week to consume on an annual basis either LIVE or through our Video On Demand option! That works out to slightly less than a quarter for each match last weekend and not even two dimes apiece for what’s on tap this weekend.
Seriously, how can you beat that? Subscribe Now and catch amazing rugby of all types, whenever you want, exclusively on The Rugby Channel.
Coming up this weekend it’s more of the same goodness. Two of the powerhouse sides in the Guinness PRO14 (Leinster and Munster) will square off against Scottish and Welsh opposition, TRC College Rugby travels to Salt Lake City for Utah versus Colorado State, and Infinity Park plays host to the Glendale Merlins vs New York Athletic Club and a Week 5 Women’s Premier League tussle between the Merlins and ORSU.
Here’s a look back at last week and a glance ahead to what I’m guessing will be another weekend of superior oval entertainment on The Rugby Channel.
In typically rainy conditions at the Sportsground in Galway, Cardiff was able to get its first victory of the campaign but it took nearly the full eighty minutes to do it. It’s somewhat shocking that a side as talented as Cardiff was still looking for their initial win in Round 4 but it turned out to be a close and hard-earned triumph against a Connacht team that probably deserved to come out on top.
Although Connacht played decent defense throughout the match, two lapses in concentration cost them dearly as Willis Halaholo dotted down twice for the visitors, just before halftime and right near the end as well. Both were soft tries and Connacht will definitely be questioning what went wrong in those two situations.
Cardiff played even better defense and were continually driving back Connacht attackers, showing off some of the ferocity they’re going to need on Saturday in Limerick against Munster.
Indiana went into this match as the defending Big 10 champs and when it was over they had showed why they are still the team to beat in 2017. Wisconsin was playing at home on a beautiful Fall day in Madison to open their season and initially they looked like they were going to be a handful for Indiana.
At one point in the contest the Badgers had a 36 – 17 lead and seemed poised to deliver the knockout blow and make a statement against the side that has dominated them and the conference in recent years.
But Indiana showed no panic, dug deep, and reeled off five straight tries to take back the lead and reassert their position as a championship caliber side.
TRC College Rugby is showing you some outstanding university teams, so give them a look and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the spectacle as one of the strongest levels of the game in the USA is on full display.
In 2016 Glendale won the Pacific Rugby Premiership title over San Francisco Golden Gate. That same year Mystic River won the Men’s Division 1 Club Championship by besting Austin in a thrilling final. The matchup between these two champs at Infinity Park would probably have been a tighter contest if they’d scheduled it for last year before lots of Mystic veterans retired and Glendale built what appears to be perhaps the finest squad in the country.
A current and former Eagle filled home side outscored the visitors eight tries to one at Infinity Park and thoroughly dominated every aspect of play. This is a super high quality Merlins teams and well worth watching every time you get the chance to do so!
At first glance this match seemed like it might be a bit one-sided as the Merlins are one of the elite women’s teams in the entire country and the Lions are still all in school. As it turned out, the Merlins had to rest some of their regular starters and the collegians from Lindenwood ended up pushing them right to the finish in a pulsating clash.
The match was played in a heavy rainstorm from kickoff to the final whistle and yet both teams played positive, if slippery, rugby throughout. The only try of the first half was scored by the Merlins Justine Wypych, which Hannah Stolba converted, and also added a penalty for a 10 – 0 lead at half.
Player of the Match Kristine Peterson scored in the second forty to give the Merlins what looked to be an unassailable 17 – 0 advantage but the Lions never quit and worked their way back into the match with a couple of late five pointers. The outcome was in doubt right until the very end and anyone who watched the match would tell you that it was an impressive outing for both teams.
Definitely give it a look and you will be immediately impressed by the skill and stamina of both Glendale and Lindenwood.
This is an intriguing matchup because both teams need a win to get back on track. Leinster was cruising through the early part of the campaign with big victories over the Dragons, Cardiff, and Southern Kings before they ran into the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and came away battered with their first loss and not even a bonus point to show for it. Back in Dublin they will be looking to regroup and put their South African defeat behind them.
Edinburgh bounded out of the gate with wins over Cardiff on the road and Dragons at home and were feeling pretty good until they were upset by Benetton at Myreside and then got outplayed by Scarlets in Llanelli. Edinburgh will be ready for action on Friday night and hoping to jump on a possibly travel weary Leinster. Don’t miss this one!
Munster hammered Benetton, smashed the Cheetahs, did just enough to beat Ospreys in Swansea, and then got blasted by the very hot Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium. Now they return to Thomond Park and will be looking to soundly beat Cardiff and correct the mistakes that plagued them in Glasgow.
Cardiff opened with losses to Edinburgh, Leinster, and Glasgow but finally earned their first W by outlasting Connacht. This is a team that believes they should have a better record than they do and will be looking to prove the point by upsetting Munster at home, something they know they can accomplish because they did it last season in Cork.
This one is on a bit earlier than usual so set your alarm and watch it LIVE or sleep in and catch it later on VOD!
Utah competes in the Division 1A PAC conference and Colorado State is in the Rocky Mountain conference. They’ll meet on Saturday in an interdivisional matchup in Salt Lake City in a potential preview of a future D1A playoff match.
NYAC are a proud and talented club with five national championships since 2005, a formidable opponent for any team, anywhere, any time.
As mentioned above, The Merlins side they’ll be facing on Saturday is one of the best in the country. Men’s club rugby doesn’t get any better than this, be sure to check it out.
GLENDALE MERLINS V ORSU – Saturday, September 30 at 7:00 PM ET
Glendale is off to a strong start with a 3 – 0 record and away wins over Berkeley and San Diego, plus a home victory against Chicago North Shore.
The Oregon Sports Union fell to the All Blues and the Surfers but got their first win by beating Chicago.
There are no easy wins in the WPL and Glendale will have to play well to keep their perfect record intact.
When we released our Fall Programming Schedule I promised even more to come in the weeks ahead, so here’s our first addition. All three of the USA Selects matches from the Americas Pacific Challenge in Montevideo, Uruguay!
The USA squad will open the tournament against Samoa A on Saturday, October 7th at 10:30 AM ET. Next up will be the hosts Uruguay A on Wednesday, October 11th at 3:30 PM ET. And the final opponent will be Canada A on Sunday, October 15th at 1:00 PM ET.
The announced squad for these matches features great young talent, both capped and uncapped, from all across the USA and you definitely will want to see them compete for potential spots in the November Tour team.
Subscribe Now and don’t miss any of these three important battles.