Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
GP12 & GKIPA FINALS, ENG V BFC & CANADA 7s!
Last week would have been a nearly perfect time to become a subscriber to The Rugby Channel because we showed you a Greene King IPA Championship first leg Final, two Guinness Pro12 Semifinals, and all one hundred and eleven matches from the USA Rugby College 7s National Championships, including three Cup Finals that resulted in national titles being awarded in two men’s and one women’s division.
If you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to give yourself that tremendous amount of LIVE rugby last week, don’t despair because you’ve got another chance this week and the offerings are even better!
We start with the second leg Final of the GKIPA Championship on Wednesday, bring you the GP12 Final from Dublin on Saturday, provide all-day coverage on Saturday and Sunday of the penultimate round of the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series from Langford, British Columbia, then wrap it all up with a mouth-watering encounter between England and the storied Barbarians Football Club on Sunday morning LIVE from Twickenham!
All that for less than a single buck a week. Subscribe Now and get ready to watch yet another weekend of awesome oval action on The Rugby Channel.
If you want to quickly get up to speed on all of the recent championship happenings, watch TRC Report #52 or click on the scores below to enjoy each complete match.
The first forty minutes at Headingley were great ones for the Yorkshire Carnegie fans who ventured out on a damp evening to watch their side attempt to get back into the Premiership. The home side played some inspired rugby and took an unexpected lead into the halftime break.
The second forty minutes were an entirely different story as London Irish asserted their dominance at scrum time, pounced on Yorkshire errors, and shut down any attempts at playing an expansive game plan with throttling defense and superb tackling.
If you decide to give this one a look, focus on the performance by London Irish prop Ben Franks as he scrummed, carried, and tackled his way to being named Man of the Match.
No matter how you look at it, this was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition. No away team had ever won a semifinal - much less against a team with as formidable a winning record as Leinster’s at the RDS Arena - so Scarlets’ win was quite remarkable.
Then add in the fact that Scarlets played more than forty minutes with only fourteen men and you start to get a feel for just how unprecedented their victory really was.
Leinster never clicked on Friday in the first stanza and then never took advantage of their entire half of being up a man, which was more than somewhat surprising from such a controlled and disciplined side.
This is a classic semi that deserves eighty minutes of your viewing time.
After seeing their fellow countrymen go down to defeat on Friday night, Munster probably re-affirmed what they already knew, that if they wanted to end up in the final, they’d have to continue to play their style and dictate terms against Ospreys and that’s exactly what happened.
Ospreys had some chances throughout the match but Munster stuck to their patterns, trusted their defensive structure, and played with a sufficient level of aggression to allow only a solitary penalty kick. The visitors were never able to let their offensive prowess show in Limerick because they were constantly under pressure and never allowed to get into a groove.
Simon Zebo’s finish of a great counterattack try sealed the deal for Munster but in reality, the defense had already won the match with their consistency and steadfastness.
USA RUGBY COLLEGE 7s NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
You can’t go wrong watching any of the 111 matches from this National Championship tournament because there was so much talent on display and so much heart and effort in the attempt to win the trophies on offer.
If you only have a limited amount of time to watch, I’d suggest using our VOD feature to check out the road to victory for the three winners, University of Wisconsin Whitewater in Men’s Division II, and Lindenwood University in Men’s Division I and also in the Women’s Division.
Whitewater in particular had some magical moments on their way to the title with extra time wins in the quarters and semis!
London Irish have almost reached their goal of getting back to the top level of English rugby but they know that it can still all fall apart if they repeat their first half performance from last week in Leeds.
They do have an eleven point cushion heading into the second leg of the finals playoff but they are going to want more than a simple win. I expect an all-out, eighty minute effort in a fixture that they’ll treat like the do-or-die match it is. Money, pride, tradition, and the future of the club are at stake on Wednesday and every single player in an Exiles jersey knows it.
Yorkshire Carnegie is not under anywhere near the same kind of pressure the Irish are and that may be just what they need to come up with a maximum effort of their own. It’ll take the performance of a lifetime from everyone involved to overcome London Irish but it’s not out of the question.
These two sides squared off against each other in the first round of the competition back in September and they’ll close it out in the last round in Dublin on Saturday.
Munster have been favorites to get this far right from the very beginning of the campaign but the same can’t be said for Scarlets, who had to overcome a distressingly slow start to even make it into the postseason.
In terms of momentum, Munster are slowly grinding their way to a title having won fifteen of their last sixteen, many by close margins, their only loss a shock defeat at home to Scarlets in Round 16. Munster aren’t doing anything fancy but what they are accomplishing is extremely difficult. They are playing forward oriented rugby with defense, discipline, teamwork, and aggression as their cornerstones. It may not be pretty rugby, but it sure is impressive.
Scarlets are on a huge high after downing Leinster and will have to guard against a letdown at the Aviva Stadium. They obviously know that they can beat Munster, having done so recently, but securing a second win against a structured outfit like Munster is not going to be easy. In order to do so, they’ll have to keep attacking with precision and gusto, a job that will get much harder if they have to do it without wing Steff Evans who is awaiting word from the judiciary on his availability following his red card in the semifinal for a tip tackle.
I’d love to be in Dublin for this Final but I’ll settle for watching it LIVE on The Rugby Channel and can’t wait for it to kick off!
WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES – Day One – Saturday, May 27 at 1:30 PM ET
The United States has drawn a very tough grouping for the event in Langford, where they’re together with New Zealand and England in Pool A.
The Eagles will play in the tourney’s opening clash at 1:30 pm Eastern against England, at 4:36 pm ET versus New Zealand, and will finish with the Netherlands at 6:58 pm.
WOMEN’S SEVENS SERIES – Day Two – Sunday, May 28 at 1:30 PM ET
The United States is currently in sixth place with 42 points in the Series standings, just four behind Russia and eight back of Fiji. A strong showing at Westhills Stadium could see them crack the top four ahead of the final event in France.
The Barbarians squad that will be playing under former Scotland coach Vern Cotter at Twickenham has a combined 1,018 international appearances. As is usual now, the team is made up of a diverse group of capped players from a variety of rugby powerhouse countries who are now plying their trade in Europe.
These fixtures are always heavily contested and tend to produce more than the normal number of tries, with nearly a thousand points scored so far in the fifteen matches they’ve played each other. The Barbarians can even up the all-time series at eight apiece with a win on Sunday.
The next month on The Rugby Channel is going to be huge! When you purchase an annual subscription you’ll get the Eagles Tests against Ireland, Georgia, and Canada, plus a bonus women’s Eagles match versus the WPL All-Stars as they cap their preparations for the 2017 WRWC in Ireland. Subscribe Now to watch the Eagles soar!