Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
Looking back on 2016, what struck us most here at The Rugby Channel was the sheer volume and incredible variety of rugby we were able to bring you this year.
Going through all the matches we’ve delivered in search of the finest tries really brought home what a phenomenal bargain it is to become an annual subscriber for less than a single dollar per week.
This is what we showed you LIVE and on VOD in 2016.
The Six Nations, the Americas Rugby Championship, the USA Rugby College Sevens National Championships, the June Tours, the Women’s Super Series, the Singha Sevens, the Guinness Pro12, the Greene King IPA Championship, the Americas Pacific Challenge, the Anglo Welsh Cup, the USA Rugby Club National Championships in Fifteens and Sevens, the Women’s Premier League Finals, The Fall Tours featuring Japan, Argentina, the New Zealand Maori, the Barbarians RFC and England, the Men’s and Women’s Eagles Tours, and HSBC World Rugby Women’s Seven Series events.
That’s quite a list but what’s most unbelievable is the fact that we have even more on offer in 2017 and that you can get it all for a measly buck a week!
The Rugby Channel’s Year In Review Special is an absolute blast to make and a genuine pleasure to present to you, so enjoy! Below is a supplemental guide to the highlights.
We open the review with tries from all of the countries involved in the Six Nations.
Italy finished a disappointing sixth with no points but the try they scored against Scotland is as entertaining as any in the competition. The good news for Italy is that they begin with a pair of matches at home in the Stadio Olimpico. The bad news is that they play Wales and Ireland, the countries that finished second and third last year.
Wales ended up behind England in the overall standings but their workmanlike try against the champions made it a game in the late going. Wales will be without their leader Warren Gatland for this year’s tourney as he prepares for the Lions Tour but they will be fine in the capable hands of former Welsh International Rob Howley.
France at times looked like their old selves last year, especially with a very efficient early try against Scotland. They opened with tight victories over Italy and Ireland, then lost three in a row to end up in fifth place. The schedule has done them no favors this year as they start against England at Twickenham.
Scotland showed moments of real grit in 2016 including a victory clinching try over France. Close losses to England and Wales put them in a hole early but they responded well with wins over Italy and France before dropping their finale to Ireland, the team they will face in Round 1 at Murrayfield.
Jamie Heaslip’s five pointer for Ireland against Italy was the winner of the Try of the Year at the World Rugby Awards and deservedly so. Unfortunately for the Irish it came in Round 4 and was part of their first win in the competition after a draw with Wales and losses to France and England. They definitely are hoping for a faster start in Edinburgh in February against the Scots.
England had to work for their deciding try against France in the tournament finale, just as they had to for most of their earlier wins. The only blowout was against Italy, the others were relatively close affairs. This is a different England team now though, having remained unbeaten on tour in Australia and the Autumn Internationals.
The Rugby Channel’s coverage begins in the first week of February with every single match from the tourney, shown on a 24-hour delay.
AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
In the inaugural version of the tournament the USA were undefeated in their three home matches against Argentina XV, Canada, and Chile and well represented in the Review with outstanding tries from Taku Ngwenya, Todd Clever, and Nic Edwards.
In the 2017 version of the ARC the Eagles will play twice at home, against Uruguay on February 4th in San Antonio at Toyota Field and against Brazil on February 11th in Round Rock, Texas at Dell Diamond. The USA lost to both of these teams last year and will be looking to reverse those results this time out.
Both matches will be LIVE on The Rugby Channel and part of your subscription.
Subscribers will also get to watch all three of the Eagles away matches when they face Canada on February 18th, Chile on February 25th and Argentina on March 4th. Plus, you will also be able to watch every other tourney match on a fulltime +4 hour delay.
These are very important matches for the Eagles. The experience they gained in the first ARC, the June and Fall Tours, and some of them with the USA Selects in the Americas Pacific Challenge will be of great value as they legitimately look to win the whole thing in 2017.
USA RUGBY COLLEGE SEVENS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
There were so many amazing tries from this three-day tournament that it was nearly impossible to pick just four. In fact, there were only three selected because the critical play in the Men’s DI final was a ball held-up in-goal call, the result of great defense and quality refereeing.
Next year the Championships will be broadcast from Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, Rugbytown USA.
JUNE TOURS AND WOMEN’S SUPER SERIES
Tony Lamborn and Mike Te’o scored against Italy and Russia in June, Naya Tapper and Alycia Washington dotted down versus France and England in July. The Men’s Eagles nearly came away with a shock win over the Italians and soundly beat the Russians. The Women came close against the French and were overwhelmed by the English.
The fixture list for next year’s June Tours hasn’t come out yet but whichever nations are inbound to face the Eagles, The Rugby Channel will have the matches for you LIVE!
Wasps and Saracens were the eventual men’s and women’s champions in this summer sevens tournament from the UK. The Finals were certainly exciting but so were the qualifying events leading up to the finale and well worth a look.
Once again in 2017 The Rugby Channel will bring you the series from start to finish.
This is probably the best overall package from the whole show.
Why? Because the GP12 is a wonderful competition filled with new and old rivalries, some of the finest rugby players from around the globe, and good old-fashioned, hard-nosed, forward-oriented rugby.
Almost halfway through the season it appears that there are still at least six teams with a legitimate shot at hoisting the hardware in May, which speaks to the depth of the talent in the competition.
The next two matches available on The Rugby Channel are from Round 11 and both are set to be real battles.
On Monday, December 26th at 12:30 pm ET the top two teams, Munster and Leinster will clash at Thomond Park. And then on Tuesday, December 27th the third and fourth place sides, Ospreys and Scarlets, will meet at Liberty Stadium. Both will be LIVE on The Rugby Channel.
GREENE KING IPA CHAMPIONSHIP
All three of the tries selected for this package showcase the wide variety of teams and players involved. As this comp heads towards the business end it will get more and more intense as the prize of promotion to the Premiership comes into focus for the contenders. The best is still to come in 2017 for this one.
AMERICAS PACIFIC CHALLENGE
It’s always great to see young players like tryscorers Matai Leuta, Martin Iosefo, and Malon Al-Jiboori gaining valuable experience in events like this one that was held in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The USA Selects won just one match and lost two but the true value of their participation won’t be known until well into the future as some of the players involved mature and move into the Eagles.
ANGLO WELSH CUP
Continuing the theme of youngsters getting a chance to show their stuff in the big time, the Anglo Welsh Cup is providing plenty of opportunity for the next generation of Premiership and Guinness Pro12 stars to emerge.
Round 3 will take place on the last weekend in January and will feature Bath vs Gloucester on Friday and Leicester vs Northampton on Saturday.
USA RUGBY CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS, SEVENS, AND WPL
Stellar tries from championships held in Glendale, Denver, and Marietta give this package a winning flavor. These are some of our favorites from the whole year because you can see just how important these matches are to the amateur players involved. Congrats to the winners!
This was an easy set of matches to get excited about because they featured famous teams and mighty clashes between world rugby powers. The Maori All Blacks, Barbarians RFC, and England provided more than just interesting rugby and pulsating tries, they brought the energy of packed houses and a flair for the extraordinary!
EAGLES FALL TOURS
Both the United States Men’s and Women’s Eagles traveled to Europe in 2016 with sides seemingly selected more with an eye towards the future than the present.
The men copped a hiding from the Maori (Todd Clever Try) in Chicago, but played tough against Romania (Will Holder Try) and Tonga (Joe Taufete’e Try).
The women had two good first halves (Hope Rogers Try) against the powerful French but were overmatched in both second halves.
HSBC WORLD RUGBY WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES - DUBAI
The comeback by the Eagles against Russia is a classic. Scoring two tries (Lauren Doyle and Cheta Emba) in under a minute after not scoring all match long is a testament to their mental toughness and determination to play until the final whistle.
The longstanding Trans-Tasman sporting rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is alive and well in women’s sevens. This more than length of the field try by Portia Woodman is a stunner.
Next up on The Rugby Channel, Sydney Sevens in the first week of February.
MATCH OF THE YEAR – IRELAND V NEW ZEALAND
If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the highlights and it’ll definitely make you want to check out the whole eighty minutes on VOD, Kiwis excepted!
TRY OF THE YEAR – KAITO SHIGENO – JAPAN
It gets better every time you watch it. It was also a finalist in the World Rugby Awards but lost out to the Heaslip Try from the Six Nations. Not much between the two but for The Rugby Channel, Shigeno’s takes the honors.
If you’re a rugby fan and you watch the Year In Review Special, you’ll have no choice but to become a subscriber.
Realistically, how can you justify not seeing all that amazing rugby, LIVE and on VOD, for less than a dollar per week?
Subscribe now and get ready for a rugby-filled 2017!