Thursday, June 14, 2007

SANZAR Tri-Nations starts this Saturday

The annual SANZAR Tri-Nations tournament kicks-off on Saturday with the Springboks hosting the Wallabies at Cape Town.

It is expected that whomever wins the tournament will travel to France as favourites for the World Cup in Sept/October. South Africa gets the early advantage hosting their home games up-front, but unlike previous years neither of the Boks home 3N tests will be played at elevation, so no big advantage there.

The Red Terror will be going bush in Nova Scotia for the next three Saturdays and will miss the opening half of the tournament ~ at least until taped replays can be viewed. The best I can hope for is my trusty little shortwave radio, and scores from RNZI. Alas, this web-blog will be quiet until about the first week of July. Be sure to use those links at right for all the latest rugby news and commentaries.

Mediazone Rugby Channel will be broadcasting all six matches online, live and tape-delay downloads. They offer a "Tri Nations Pass" for all six test matches at a cost of $54.99. Individual Matches are also available on Pay-Per-View for $9.99. Click here for complete details.

Tri-Nations fixture schedule (ALL TIMES EASTERN TIME (Toronto, New York)):

Game One: South Africa vs. Australia
Saturday, June 16, 2007 at 09:00 AM ET
Newland Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast

Game Two: South Africa vs. New Zealand
Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 09:00 AM ET
ABSA Stadium, Durban, South Africa
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast

Game Three: Australia vs. New Zealand
Saturday, June 30, 2007 at 06:00 AM ET
Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast

Game Four: Australia vs. South Africa
Saturday, July 07, 2007 at 06:00 AM ET
Telstra Stadium, Sydney, Australia
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast

Game Five: New Zealand vs. South Africa
Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 03:35 AM ET
Jade Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast

Game Six: New Zealand vs. Australia
Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 03:35 AM ET
Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Mediazone Rugby Channel broadcast


All Blacks vs. Canada countdown...

Nobody is under any illusions here. Canada is going to get spanked by the All Blacks on Saturday. Badly. But it will be an excellent (albeit steep) learning curve, and Canada will bring the hard lessons learned to France in September.

The Canadians expect to lose. But there won't be any quit or hanging heads. This may actually be a bigger highlight for many of the Canadian players than even playing in the RWC. This is only the second time that Canada has faced the All Blacks in New Zealand, so it'll doubtlessly be special to them.

Canada's starting line-up is close to their 1st XV. Their first-choice locking partnership, Jamie Cudmore and Mike James, were unable to travel to NZ in time because they played in last weekends' Stade Francais vs. Clermont French club final. Aside from that weakness, this is probably the best team Canada has been able to assemble for a test in a long time. The bench is also handy.

The New Zealanders are sitting some of their best stars (Richie McCaw, Carl Hayman) on the bench; some players (Jerry Collins, Troy Flavell) are playing out-of-position. New star Isaia Toeava will not be playing, despite a late-scratch to centre Conrad Smith. And the All Blacks locking depth is in tatters with injuries (Ali Williams, Keith Robinson, Jason Eaton, James Ryan) and pregnancies (Chris Jack (!)) ruled out for several weeks. Nevertheless, expect a 60-70 point rout, and perhaps some champagne rugby.

BIG NEWS for Canadian rugby fans. Unlike the RWC, this test match will be available on FREE TV twice on Saturday (tape delay) on Canadian sports network "The Score." First showing will be at 10:00 am ET (Toronto, Montreal) with a second broadcast now at 6:30 pm ET, both on Saturday, June 16th. This is the first Canadian mens test match broadcast on Canadian TV in a year, so it's a big deal for Canadian rugby fans too. Click here for more details.

If you can't wait to see the test on tape delay, Mediazone Rugby Channel is offering the test LIVE ONLINE for $9.99 fee, kick-off starting 03:35 am ET (Toronto, New York). Click here for details.

New Zealand: 1. John Schwalger, 2. Andrew Hore, 3. Neemia Tialata, 4. Troy Flavell, 5. Ross Filipo, 6. Reuben Thorne (captain), 7. Chris Masoe, 8. Jerry Collins, 9. Byron Kelleher, 10. Dan Carter, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12. Aaron Mauger, 13. Luke McAlister, 14. Doug Howlett, 15. Mils Muliaina. Reserves: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Carl Hayman, 18. Rodney So'oialo, 19. Richie McCaw, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Rico Gear, 22. Leon MacDonald.

Canada: 1. Kevin Tkachuk, 2. Pat Riordan, 3. Scott Franklin, 4. Luke Tait, 5. Mike Burak, 6. Colin Yukes, 7. Stan McKeen, 8. Sean-Michael Stephen, 9. Morgan Williams (captain), 10. Ryan Smith, 11. James Pritchard, 12. David Spicer, 13. Craig Culpan, 14. Justin Mensah-Coker, 15. Mike Pyke. Reserves: 16. Aaron Carpenter, 17. Dan Pletch, 18. Mike Pletch, 19. Josh Jacson, 20. Adam Kleeberger, 21. Dean Van Camp, 22. Ed Fairhurst.

Date: Saturday 16 June 2007
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT) 03:35 AM ET (Toronto, New York)
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)
Touch judges: Craig Joubert (South Africa), George Ayoub (Australia)
Television match official: Paul Marks (Australia)
Assessor: Bob Francis (New Zealand)

Rugby Canada preview - click here. preview - click here.

Rugby Planet preview - click here.

New Zealand Herald feature story ("Canada aim for exercise in damage limitation") - click here.

Ex-Canadian skipper Al Charron's latest column is worth a read. He reminisces about the shellacking the All Blacks dished out to Canada in 1995, and talks about what the Canadian boys can expect in Hamilton this weekend. Charron also makes an interesting point about 1995, when NZ put over 70 points on Canada in the run-up to RWC 1995, then in the actual tournament Canada played both Australia and South Africa comparatively tough. Excerpt:

[...] A lot has been made of the fact and questioning why would Canada take on these fixtures - but why wouldn’t you want to? Any player worth his salt wants to play and test themselves against the best and New Zealand certainly fits that bill.

No matter what the results are Canada will come out of that match against the All Blacks knowing it has been in a game and with all due respect for the rest of Canada’s opponents in the months to come the games will be easier from here on in. When you’re thrown into the fire like Canada will be - lessons will be learned both in what you should and shouldn’t do in a given situation.

If you want to be better as an individual player and as a team you play the best and in doing so you pick up the small subtleties and nuances that allow great players and teams to make the plays and decisions that they do. Not only will the players benefit from playing in New Zealand, a rugby hotbed, but so will the coaches, as the Kiwis in my experience are very generous and gracious in helping countries like Canada improve their game.

Having said that, there will be no quarter given nor asked in the actual matches. New Zealand rugby is tough, physical and uncompromising. If test rugby is a few major steps up from club rugby then a test match where the opponents are the All Blacks takes it to yet another level. Their foot is firmly on the accelerator at all times and for Canada there is no weathering the storm like a typical test for the first ten minutes. This will be a case of weathering the perfect storm for 80 minutes of hell. Canada will need to battle through the adversity it faces and to maintain composure by virtue of strong mental discipline in what will surely be an almighty physical battle. [...]

I have had the good fortune of playing the All Blacks on two occasions, once in 1991 when Canada played one of it’s better games in that year’s RWC quarter-final (NZ 29 - Canada 13) and a second time in 1995 (73-7) a couple months prior to that year’s RWC in South Africa. The second game does not bring back as fond memories as the first (if you can take any solace in losses) because we were totally out classed and I personally was terrible. We played the All Blacks following a scorcher of a match in Fiji that left me so messed up that I was hospitalised overnight (which was a story in itself the details of which I won't share with you here). As a result I was a wreck for the All Blacks match and I have no memories of the Fijian ordeal, other than by what others told me and by virtue of a grainy video of my last conscious moments in the match prior to succumbing to my collective injuries suffered in the game.

I have often been asked if we were a demoralized lot after the NZ game? Well perhaps briefly (getting crushed is hard to swallow), but as experienced a side as Canada had down there in the South Pacific we didn’t come into that NZ game in the best frame of mind. We had some off field issues to contend with and we had some beat up guys on the pitch to play a fired up All Blacks side that was fresh off a trial match with players looking to solidify their position for the up coming RWC. Now you better have your ‘A’ game when you play as formidable a foe as the All Blacks and we didn’t and rightly took it on the chin.

That All Black side was a beauty and to this day, as I have said many times before with all due respect to South Africa the 1995 RWC winners, that NZ side was the best team in the world that year and if the RWC final match up was actually a hypothetical NHL best out of 7 the Kiwis would have won it in 5.

Easiest thing for Canada to do would have been to wallow in our own self pity after suffering such a humiliating loss heading into the RWC but we didn’t.

We took away valuable lessons from that game and regrouped. [...]

You can’t help but be better as a player and as a team when playing sides as skilled, polished and clinical as the All Blacks are. You ask any player who has had the good fortune to represent their country in rugby and no doubt to a man they will tell you they want to play against the top sides the world has to offer and perched firmly on top of that list is New Zealand.

Canada, will God willing, come away from this short tour with no major injuries but more importantly, a team better educated in rugby and how to play and carry the pace of a match that will pay dividends for the individual players, coaches and team as a whole come this Fall’s Rugby World Cup.

In 1995, if not for being placed in the pool of death with Romania, South Africa and Australia we may very well have made as much noise in that Rugby World Cup as we did in the previous one. We beat Romania handily (34-3), played the defending 1991 RWC Champions Australia tough (27-11) and the same goes for 1995 RWC champions to be South Africa who we lost to (20-0) in a tough match that unfortunately is remembered more for the infamous brawl then for the robust rugby that was played by a depleted but determined Canadian side.

I was proud of how we played as a team and I think we took a lot of useful things away from the New Zealand pummelling we received prior to the RWC and applied it and addressed it in our pool games. If we had simply played Fiji and maybe say Tonga on that pre RWC tour and not NZ I don’t think we play as well as we do in that 1995 RWC. Furthermore I know that personally I used the embarrassing score line and my poor showing in that NZ match as motivation to prove to the world that I was a better player then I displayed and that we, Canada were a superior team then we showed. We were a proud bunch of Canadians, many who were involved in the 1991 campaign, and we wanted to send notice that the 1991 RWC was not a flash in the pan.

Canada has some very good rugby players at present and I don’t think Canada is going to get crushed like everyone is forecasting but they will no doubt be tested to the extreme and it will be interesting to see how the team responds during the game to the pressure the All Blacks will impose on them. Similarly it will be worthy of note to see how Canada reacts, responds after the game and to carry lessons learned forward.

If Canada has any real inclination of doing something special in the 2007 RWC then the tour to NZ that they are undertaking is needed. Winning against Fiji or Japan is no given but if we are indeed to beat them and want any chance of beating one of our much higher ranked remaining 2007 RWC pool opponents either Wales or Australia then you best go into the Lions den to see where you stand.



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oy Canada Needs a Song!

Canadian national mens rugby team sponsor Guinness breweries is probably not tickled about the RWC broadcast ignominy in Canada and the fate that their sponsorship will be going unseen by virtually ALL Canadian sports fans in the next few months. So they've manufactured their own publicity stunt, in the form of a song contest. Apparently, they believe Canadian rugby needs a song ~ or an anthem ~ I'm note quite sure.

In fact, there're a few things that remain mysteries to me... I've been following the Canadian mens rugby team for a couple decades, and for the life of me don't know the team's nickname. Rugby Canada doesn't say. Press and broadcast commentaries at home and abroad routinely call our team the "Maple Leafs," or the "Canucks," and even "Team Canada." Which one is correct? If I was a songwriter, I'd like to get that sorted out in advance. (And don't get me started on the Canadian team insignia!)

You can check out the "song contest" official details and rules here. Deadline for entries is June 25th. Guinness will shortlist ten songs, and voters can choose their favourite song online starting July 3rd.

Nice prize of a trip to France to see Canada play the Wallabies at RWC 2007, with airfares and accomodations paid, plus spending money.

My thoughts:

I hope somebody comes up with something that's not too embarrassing. I suspect they are after some original stirring Braveheart-ish singalong anthem.

Nevertheless, there's a cynical part of me that winces and thinks it sounds more than a little contrived and force-fed. It seems to me the really successful sporting "songs" are actually co-opted from elsewhere, tend to be organic in nature and take on lives of their own after-the-fact.

Liverpool FC's "You'll Never Walk Alone" ~ a popular 1940s hit from the Rodgers & Hammerstein stage musical "Carousel." The intent of that song has nothing to do with soccer.

England RFU's "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" ~ an old black American gospel slave song. The song has nothing to do with rugby.

Both New Zealand's "Ka Mate Haka" and Australia's "Waltzing Matilda" have been part of those nations' identifiable cultures for over a century. But neither was written for sports teams.

My solution:

Rugby Canada should simply grab an identifiable Canadian song. Play it before every home test match as the Canadian boys take the field prior to kick-off. Then play it again every time Canada scores a try. And then again at the end of every Canadian victory.

Neither Guinness nor Rugby Canada would even have to pay the rights for the thing. All they'd have to do it play it and let it take on a life of it's own. The fans will "own" it.

Canada's national rugby program is fairly recent, only being a few decades old. So keeping that in mind, I nominate Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO's) classic...

"Takin' Care of Business."

You get up every morning
From your 'larm clock's warning
Take the 8:15
into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work
at nothing all day
And I'll be

Taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I've been taking care of business
(it's all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime …

The song is not much older than Canada's national rugby program. It reflects the workmanlike blue-collar substance of the team. It's a Canadiana nugget imbued in the national psyche. It's known around the world. It's catchy and memorable, with a driving rhythm and hook. It emphasizes and exemplifies everything Canadians want their national men’s rugby team to represent.

The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves both borrowed the song at various times, so why should Canadian rugby fans feel any shame about singing a home-bred anthem?

Feel free to leave comments...

Rugby Reality TV in Canada

I almost feel as if this recent post at Rugby Canada was directed at me. There's not too much new here, but it is interesting all the same.


May 28, 2007
Toronto, ON

Garth Gottfried is a television producer at Sportsworld, which is a daily international sports show hosted by James Sharman on the Score Television. Sportsworld airs weekdays at 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm (EST) across the country, regularly including rugby. Additionally, the Score has aired rugby games in the past year.

In November, 2006, Garth wrote an article on some of the problems facing the sport of rugby and general broadcast television in Canada.

Rugby Canada gets many inquiries about the 2007 Rugby World Cup and whether it will be on television.

Setanta owns the rights for North America. The Irish television company is currently trying to obtain approval from the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC) for a Canadian station licence.

If the CRTC does does not grant a licence in time, then watching the games on the closed-circuit at your local rugby club or pub may be the only option. However, online solutions such as Setanta's online division and companies like Mediazone on delay may be possible as well. Ultimately, if Setanta can find a broadcast partner in Canada willing to air the games, then the Rugby World Cup (or at least part of it) could still be on the air. But at this time, that is not the case.

For your own information purposes, we re-print Garth's article. [...]

Emphasis mine. Read Gottfried's entire commentary here.

I would say that Gottfried's point regarding the exhorbitant production costs of home tests is justified. But Rugby Canada isn't expected to cover costs of international test matches played on tour to other nations. Yet we didn't see Canada playing Wales at Cardiff last year, for instance. Hopefully in the future we may be able to negotiate deals with individual unions, like the Canada vs. New Zealand test match this coming weekend.


IRB Hall of Fame noms

Canada's Gareth Rees has been shortlisted as a 2007 IRB Hall of Fame nomination.

Rees is one of twelve nominations in the 20th century category. Only two of the twelve nominations will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Rees has his work cut out for him to make that induction ~ he's up against giants of the game including Dannie Craven, George Nepia, Gareth Edwards and Sir Wilson Whineray. The nomination, nevertheless, has to be pretty special for Rees. After all, he got nominated whilst arguably the greatest All Black of all time - Colin Meads - was passed over. What is up with that??!!

You can find more info about the nominees and vote by clicking here.

Last year saw the first inductions into the Hall by the IRB. They inducted William Webb Ellis (preposterous) and Rugby School. They would have done better to induct an inaugural class of 5 to 10 players, of which Meads should have been at-or-near the top of the list.

Note: The IRB Hall of Fame is different than the more thorough International Rugby Hall of Fame.


Weekend test match housekeeping

As expected (see below), the past weekends' test results followed the formbook.

If you're looking for results and links to test match reports, be sure to bookmark the website "Pick & Go" into your rugby folder ~ "your fastest way of finding summarised rugby test results on the web!"

Friday, June 08, 2007

Weekend test slaughter previews


New Zealand: 1. Tony Woodcock, 2. Anton Oliver, 3. Carl Hayman, 4. Keith Robinson, 5. Ali Williams, 6. Jerry Collins, 7. Richie McCaw (captain), 8. Rodney So'oialo, 9. Byron Kelleher, 10. Nick Evans, 11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12. Luke McAlister, 13. Isaia Toeava, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 15. Leon MacDonald. Reserves: 16. Keven Mealamu, 17. Neemia Tialata, 18. Chris Jack, 19. Chris Masoe, 20. Brendon Leonard, 21. Ma'a Nonu, 22. Doug Howlett.

France: 1. Christian Califano, 2. Sebastien Bruno, 3. Olivier Sourgens, 4. Pascal Papé (captain), 5. Julien Pierre, 6. Damien Chouly, 7. Olivier Magne, 8. Sébastien Chabal, 9. Nicolas Durand, 10. Benjamin Boyet, 11. Jean Francois Coux, 12. Lionel Mazars, 13. Arnaud Mignardi, 14. Julien Laharrague, 15. Thomas Castaignède. Reserves: 16. Raphaël Ibañez, 17. Nicolas Mas, 18. Olivier Olibeau, 19. Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20. Michael Forest, 21. Nicolas Laharrague, 22. Benjamin Thiéry.

Date: Saturday 9 June 2007
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 (07:35 GMT) 03:35 AM ET (Toronto, New York)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Stuart Dickinson (Australia), Paul Marks (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Assessor: Brendan McCormick (Australia)

Rugby Planet preview - click here.
Rugby Planet prediction: All Blacks by 38 points.

All Blacks vs. France test match available LIVE on Mediazone Rugby Channel. Click here. Kick-off at 03:35 AM ET (Toronto, New York).


Australia: 1. Matt Dunning, 2. Adam Freier, 3. Al Baxter, 4. James Horwill, 5. Dan Vickerman, 6. Mark Chisholm, 7. Phil Waugh (captain), 8. David Lyons, 9. George Gregan, 10. Stephen Larkham, 11. Lote Tuqiri, 12. Scott Staniforth, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14. Drew Mitchell, 15. Julian Huxley. Reserves: 16. Stephen Moore, 17. Benn Robinson, 18. Stephen Hoiles, 19. George Smith, 20. Sam Cordingley, 21. Sam Norton-Knight, 22. Stirling Mortlock.

Fiji: 1. Graham Dewes, 2. Sunia Koto, 3. Henry Qiodravu, 4. Ifereimi Rawaqa, 5. Kele Leawere, 6. Apolosi Satala, 7. Akapusi Qera, 8. Alifereti Doviverata (captain), 9. Moses Rauluni, 10. Jo Tora, 11. Isoa Neivua, 12. Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 13. Vereniki Goneva, 14. Mosese Luveitasau, 15. Marika Vakacegu. Reserves: 16. Bill Gadolo, 17. Apisai Turukawa, 18. Wame Lewaravu, 19. Tomasi Soqeta, 20. Vitori Buatava, 21. Jack Prasad, 22. Taniela Rawaqa.

Date: Saturday 9 June 2007
Venue: Subiaco Oval, Perth Kick-off: 18.05 (20.05 AEST; 10.05 GMT) 06:00 AM ET (Toronto, New York)
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Paul Honiss (New Zealand), Mark Lawrence (Scotland)
Television match official: Jonathon White (New Zealand)
Assessor: Andrew Cole (Australia)

Rugby Planet preview - click here.
Rugby Planet prediction: Wallabies by 50 points.

Wallabies vs. Fiji test match available LIVE on Mediazone Rugby Channel. Click here. Kick-off at 06:00 AM ET (Toronto, New York).


South Africa: 1. Os du Randt, 2. John Smit (captain), 3. BJ Botha, 4. Johan Ackermann, 5. Albert van den Berg, 6. Luke Watson, 7. Danie Rossouw, 8. Bob Skinstad, 9. Ricky Januarie, 10. Derick Hougaard, 11. JP Pietersen, 12. Wayne Julies, 13. Waylon Murray, 14. Ashwin Willemse, 15. Frans Steyn. Reserves: 16. Gary Botha, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. Johann Muller, 19. Pedrie Wannenburg, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Jaque Fourie, 22. Percy Montgomery.

Samoa: 1. Justin Va'a, 2. Mahonri Schwalger, 3. Census Johnston, 4. Kane Thompson, 5. Filipo Levi, 6. Daniel Leo, 7. Justin Purdie, 8. Semo Sititi (captain), 9. Steven So'oialo, 10. Loki Crichton, 11. Alesana Tuilagi, 12. Seilala Mapusua, 13. Anitelela Tuilagi, 14. Lome Fa'atau, 15. Gavin Williams. Reserves: 16. Muliufi Salanoa, 17. Donald Kerslake, 18. Iosefa Tekori, 19. Alfie Vaeluaga, 20. Junior Poluleuligaga, 21. Elvis Sevealii, 22. David Levi.

Date: Saturday 9 June 2007
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT) 09:00 AM ET (Toronto, New York)
Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)
Touch judges: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Ed Murray (Scotland)
Assessor: Steve Hilditch (Ireland)

Rugby Planet preview - click here.
Rugby Planet prediction: Springboks by 30+ points.

Springboks vs. Samoa test match available LIVE on Mediazone Rugby Channel. Click here. Kick-off at 09:00 AM ET (Toronto, New York).


Argentina: 1. Pablo Henn, 2. Pablo Gambarini, 3. Omar Hasan, 4. Ignacio Fernández Lobbe, 5. Manuel Carizza, 6. Martín Durand (captain), 7. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 8. Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 9. Nicolás Fernández Miranda, 10. Marcelo Bosch, 11. Francisco Leonelli, 12. Manuel Contepomi, 13. Martín Gaitán, 14. Horacio Agulla, 15. Federico Serra. Reserves: 16. Eusebio Guiñazú, 17. Santiago González Bonorino, 18. Rimas Álvarez, 19. Martín Schusterman, 20. Nicolás Vergallo, 21. Juan Fernández Miranda, 22. Tomás De Vedia.

Italy: 1. Andrea Lo Cicero (captain), 2. Fabio Ongaro, 3. Carlos Nieto, 4. Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 5. Valerio Bernabò, 6. Josh Sole, 7. Roberto Mandelli, 8. Robert Barbieri, 9. Pablo Canavosio, 10. Christopher Burton, 11. Matteo Pratichetti, 12. Cristian Stoica, 13. Alessio Galante, 14. Kaine Robertson, 15. David Bortolussi. Reserves: 16. Carlo Festuccia, 17. Matias Aguero, 18. Fabio Staibano, 19. Antonio Pavanello, 20. Silvio Orlando, 21. Paul Griffen , 22. Ezio Galon.

Date: Saturday 9 June 2007
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
Kick-off: 14.00 (local time), 19.00 (Italian time) 13:00 / 01:00 PM ET (Toronto, New York)
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand), Phillip Bosch (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Assessor: Tappe Henning (South Africa)

Rugby Planet preview - click here.
Rugby Planet prediction: Pumas by 10 points.

Pumas vs. Italy test match available TAPE DELAY on Setanta Sports (NA) Broadband One on Sunday, June 10th at 08:00 AM ET (Toronto, New York). Click here for details.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007


(Updated below.)

Terrific (and surprising!) news. Rugby Canada press release:


June 05, 2007
Toronto, ON

Through the efforts of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU), Rugby Canada, and The Score, test rugby on Canadian television is again a reality.

The Score will be showing the Canada versus the All Blacks game, on Saturday, June 16th. You can see the all the action from New Zealand starting at 10:00am Eastern, 7:00am Pacific.

If you are not already familiar with The Score, it is cable sports station that specializes in showing highlights and news, but also shows plenty of live sports.

In 2006, The Score showed its first live rugby with the Barclays Churchill Cup in June. Then in September, The Score was the host broadcaster for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which was not only aired in Canada, but also around the world.

When not showing full games, rugby is featured regularly on The Score through Sportsworld.

A daily half-hour show hosted by James Sharman, Sportsworld focuses on sports such as rugby, soccer, cricket and Formula One. It airs at 5:30pm ET from Monday to Friday, with repeat airings most nights.

Since early 2006, the Score has also broadcast the iRB-produced Total Rugby on Sundays.

Always featuring a round-up of the week’s international, provincial and club action, Total Rugby also produces great features on some of the game’s greats and has in-depth looks on how rugby is developing worldwide.

You can get more information on Sportsworld at: and more information on Total Rugby at:

As always, feedback on rugby is appreciated at the Score. Send all your comments and thoughts to

Source: Rugby Canada



From Al's letter today:

I’m off to New Zealand this week with the team but speaking of the Score, it is great news that they will be carrying the Canada versus New Zealand game on TV.

We don’t get a lot of rugby coverage on TV here in Canada like we should, but the Score does a far better job then any of the other channels. Kudos to them and no doubt the New Zealand rugby union, for making the game available for Canadian viewers by not asking an exorbitant broadcast fee.

Now I don’t know this to be the reason for sure why the game is available but I do know that the high fee demanded by those who own the broadcasts rights (ex: England) is one of the major reasons why we don’t see other Canadian games when they are playing overseas.

If the IRB is serious about growing the game globally they should have some say in getting the broadcast fees reduced for test matches shown in countries where the IRB hopes to grow the game. Be it live or on a delay basis.

Hey it’s great for the people willing to pay for watching it via satellite, internet or going down to the pub to take in the action but we have to attract the masses to the game by making it readily available on regular TV.

The Score does its best to accommodate a relatively small rugby community and we can be thankful for at least that, but it would be nice for the other networks to front up and give rugby some air time. But then I am biased toward rugby.

Do give the Score the positive feedback they deserve for giving us at least some rugby coverage in this country at .

Until next week,
Al Charron.



The Score and Rugby Canada report a second airing of the game will now be added.

The first showing will be at 10:00am ET (7:00am PT) with a second broadcast now at 6:30pm ET (3:30pm PT), both on June 16th.

As mentioned earlier in the week, feedback on rugby is appreciated at the Score. Send all your comments and thoughts to

Note: That new email is different from the earlier one (above). Just to be safe, c.c. 'em your thank-you at both email addresses!

The Times Online: Whither Canada

Patrick Kidd at The Times Online (U.K.) has posted a blog entry about Canadian rugby getting short-changed and their fans getting the shaft, with a nice hat-tip to Yours Truly. The Times also allows comments on their posts, so if you have anything to say, by all means take a few minutes and type something. Maybe - somebody at the iRB will read it.

Times Online
June 1, 2007

Wither Canada?

It's three finals for the price of one at Twickenham tomorrow as the Barclays Churchill Cup reaches its conclusion. Although six teams began this tournament, the final day of action will feature only, er, six as Canada play the USA in the Churchill Cup Bowl, Ireland A play Scotland A in the Churchill Cup Plate and England Saxons play New Zealand Maori in the Churchill Cup Cup.

Is this a way to give Canada a chance of some silverware? It is sad that they are not in contention given that the tournament was created for them, to give the North American sides a regular taste of decent competition. The first Churchill Cup, between Canada, the US and a developmental England side, took place in Vancouver in 2003 and it hosted matches in the first four Cups, choosing to play over here this year largely because it would give them experience of European conditions with the World Cup in France in September.

I have a soft spot for the Canadian rugby team and their supporters, having shared an empty stadium with them back in 1999. It was the 1999 World Cup and Romania were playing the USA at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, hardly the biggest draw of the tournament. I recall there were 3000 of us there, and I was entertained by a large group of Romanian "fans" decked in the Romanian outfits and waving Romanian flags. It turned out they were Canadians, who were simply there to boo the Yanks.

Canada qualified with ease for this year's World Cup but some of their fans feel almost as gloomy as England supporters. Dave Fisher, at The Red Terror blog, is worth visiting. He has some forthright and detailed views on why his side are struggling and will continue to struggle (look under May 22). Above all, he is annoyed that, for the first time, the Rugby World Cup will not be broadcast on mainstream television in Canada, and that fans will have to go to pay per view or watch the match in a pub (hmm, what chance of any pubs showing rugby...?). Nor is the Churchill Cup being televised. And, to cap it all, there seems to be some national outcry about a Canadian child being killed during a rugby match. As Mr Fisher says, this combination seems sure to kill off interest in the sport among the young. It is a sad state of affairs.

Posted by Patrick Kidd on June 01, 2007 at 07:16 PM Permalink