Thursday, August 30, 2007

England's new kit a weebit nancy-boyish

Legendary hooker and England international Brian Moore digs his finely manicured nails into Nike's new England jersey & kit.

In a Telegraph commentary last week, Moore writes:

For a brief moment, as the away team emerged from their dressing room in Marseille on Saturday night, I thought Arsenal had mistakenly stepped into the wrong bear pit. Naturally, this error was quickly corrected by the fact that there were English players in the team in red, but am I the only person who loathes both England's World Cup strips?

One looks gay and the other makes you want to belt out "Swing Low, Sweet Chav-iot," redolent as it is of the worst in chavball/ council-estate excess.

Flash Gordon, eat your heart out!

The Red Terror speaks; You listen!

Blogging has been quiet the past week, and not just because North Harbour got stomped badly by Waikato last weekend and got the Ranfurly Shield ripped from their cold dead hands.

Summer is winding down in the Great White North, and I've been splashing around the northern lakes and using most of my available time to complete all the niggling loose threads of my life that will be on hold for the month-and-a-half duration of the World Cup, which kicks off in, ooooh, just a little over a week.

Things should pick up and start intensifying shortly. Rest assured I'll be throwing-up previews, news, reviews and commentaries throughout the World Cup.

Back soon...

RWC: Last minute Canada roster changes

Tkacuk out; Hirayama back in. Via Rugby Canada:

August 27, 2007

An injury suffered in Saturday’s game against the Newfoundland Rock has forced Regina prop Kevin Tkachuk to miss the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Tkachuk broke a bone in his fibula, the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg, which will require him to remain on crutches for the next four or five weeks. It would have been the second World Cup for Tkachuk; his place on Canada’s thirty-man World Cup squad has been filled by Nathan Hirayama.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Setanta schedule update-update

Update and correction (below):

Quick followup to my posting Saturday about Setanta's frustrating schedule problems;

Setanta rep Jessica France writes me:

Some of the Canadian co's were using the US schedule on their tv guides. You can find an accurate schedule on and choose "Canadian schedule". We are ironing out some of the kinks in our broadcasting, thus the freeview period. By the time the freeview period is over, most everything should be ironed out. Thanks for your patience.

Well, I'm glad they're looking at the problem. But the link to the Setanta website still isn't cause for confidence just yet. There isn't any "Canadian schedule." There is a link to "North America," and that link takes you to the, quote, "Schedule for the Setanta Sports channel available in the US."

Mea culpa. I got it sorted out. The Setanta page offers a "North America" option that takes you to the North America index page.

On that page Setanta offers you three options: TV, Broadband, and Premium PPV.

If you click on "TV" it takes you to the United States schedule. That is the wrong page. So, back up to the North America index page again.

At the top of the page, right under the Setanta logo banner, you will see a link to the "Canadian Schedule."

Bookmark that link:

It's very confusing, but it's there. I'm not sure the problems will be solved yet, but I'll keep my eye on it.

(Hat-tip to commenter "Welshman" who sorted me right.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

RWC warm-up: Canada beats Portugal at Nepean

Rugby Canada:


August 18, 2008
Ottawa, ON

Canada overcame a determined Portugal side to win the first international between the two nations, 42-12, at Twin Elm Park in Nepean on Saturday in front of 2,500 fans.

Canada found the visiting Portugal rugby team as pesky and as ‘game’ as the All-Blacks found Canada when the World’s #1 team played Canada their international match in New Zealand in June. The Portugal team, ranked 21st in the world, refused to succumb to relentless Canadian pressure, and presenting a well-organized and resolute defense in playing for a full eighty minutes. Indeed, similar to Canada against New Zealand, it scored an intercept try in the early going but, just as Canada had in the game in Hamilton, but a period of Canadian domination early in the second-half, similar to one the All-Blacks enjoyed against Canada, put the nail in Portugal’s coffin.

While Canada will gladly claim the victory, but found the Portugese more of a handful than they might have expected. The game shows that Canada needs to find more ways to break through tough defensive structures with more consistency. Although the home team scored three tries in each half, it left a good many begging that would have seen a more lop-sided score. Nevertheless, six tries to two clearly demonstrates the dominance Canada enjoyed over the totally amateur Iberians.

[Emphasis mine.] Click here to read Ian Kennedy's complete match report.

Canada - 42.
Tries: Mike Pyke, Adam Kleeberger, DTH van der Merwe (2), Mensah-Coker, David Spicer
Cons: James Pritchard (3)
Penalty: James Pritchard (2)

Portugal - 12.
Try: Diogo Mateus, Jose Pinto
Con: Pedro Leal

BTW did those Rugby Canada Network audio links work for anybody else? (See details in the Canada v. Portugal preview posting below.) The audio wouldn't launch for me. Didn't see the match on my local Rogers channel, either. Not sure what's going on, maybe a few wrinkles still to be ironed out for RCN.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Setanta schedulers not inspiring confidence

I have made several remarks over the past week recommending rugby fans subscribe to the new Setanta Sports launched on Canadian cable television a couple weeks ago. Fact is, for a Canadian fan starved for rugby, the network is a godsend. But that doesn't mean they're beyond criticism when it's warranted. Indeed, Setanta has had a number of scheduling clusterf#cks the past couple weeks that simply don't add up. Today was particularly illustrative and particularly frustrating.

For the past couple days Setanta's on-air TV schedule (i.e. "Tomorrow at 2:30 pm," and "Coming up to-day at 2:30 pm," etc.) have displayed regular listings for the Saturday August 18th, 2:30 pm ET International Rugby fixture: England vs. France LIVE from Marseille.

However, at 2:30 pm, viewers were still seeing 10 minutes worth of Newcastle vs. Aston Villa post-match comments and wrap. Ten minutes later was the Scottish SPL report.

At 3 pm, a half-hour after the scheduled start, Setanta then broadcast last weeks' tape-delayed England vs. France rugby test, instead of the LIVE match advertised.

Odder still, Setanta's TV schedule as listed online shows a completely different sport being televised. It lists the 2:30 pm slot as EPL Birmingham vs West Ham. As mentioned, the schedule is bogus, and viewers get the SPL report and last week's taped rugby match instead. I suspect some soccer fans would have been equally as frustrated as myself.

Piling on... Setanta's TV schedule listed online for the same day displays Noon programming as being Coca-Cola Cup Stoke City vs. Charlton. Another mistake. It was instead EPL Newcastle vs. Aston Villa LIVE, exactly as scheduled on Setanta's TV listing.

Does Setanta's right hand know what the left is doing?

It is not exactly inspiring confidence for a new network launch looking to entice new subscribers. I realize this network was shoved through in a hasty rush to meet the start of the EPL season, but it all seems fairly desperate, flimsy and amateur.

What I have learned is that Setanta's online and TV listing schedules are often in conflict, and neither can be believed. And this is not a one-time trip-up. It's been a regular feature of Setanta's schedules all week long.

I am not complaining about Setanta's programming. But I am embarrassed by their pathetic schedule coordination and lack of attention to detail. I am crossing my fingers it's not another bad re-run of Fox Sports World Canada redux, with all sorts of promises made, a great start, and then operators (if there are any) asleep at the switch, with an inevitable crash landing to reality.

Sports are important to me, but not so important that I'm going to waste scheduling my weekend around a regularly mistaken schedule.

Setanta needs to wake up and rectify the farcical, misleading and unprofessional scheduling. I am beginning to feel doubly stupid by publicly recommending this channel to others. Customers who pull their money out of their pocket expect better, and they deserve better. Thank the stars it's still a free preview, or my steel-toed Kodiak would've been right through my TV set.

And yes, I still stand by my earlier prediction that Setanta will become the most popular specialty digital cable channel in Canada. All the more reason for them to get on top of details. *Sigh* Thank God for TCM.


Rugby Canada press release:


August 18, 2008

Here are the full team lineups for the Portugal vs Canada match this afternoon at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Ottawa.

It is the first full test at a senior level between the two sides, though in the match between Canada Select and Portugal A, the home side built a 34-3 half time lead before taking the game 34-18.

The game can be heard live online via the Rugby Canada Network - by clicking here starting at 1:50 PM EST.

You can then watch the game on television on delay on your local cable companies access channel at 8 PM EST (in most markets channel 10 or channel 20, but check listings in your area.)

Alternatively an online feed of the game is going to be made available through Rogers, starting at 8 PM EST - and then we will have an archived version of the game available by Sunday. Use this link to find the video link once it goes live on Rogers.

Team Lineups:

CANADA: 1. Rod Snow (Newfoundland Rock), 2. Pat Riordan (Burnaby Lake RFC), 3. Jon Thiel (Bayside Sharks), 4. Luke Tait (Overmach Parma, Italy), 5. Mike James (captain) (Stade Francais, France), 6. Jamie Cudmore (Clermont Auvergne, FRA), 7. Adam Kleeberger (U Vic Vikes), 8. Sean Michael Stephen (Beziers, France), 9. Ed Fairhurst (Cornish Pirates, UK), 10. Ryan Smith (Montauban, France), 11. James Pritchard (Bedford, UK), 12. David Spicer (U Vic Vikes), 13. Craig Culpan (Meraloma), 14. DTH van der Merwe (James Bay), 15. Mike Pyke (Montauban, France). RESERVES: 16. Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins), 17. Dan Pletch (Oakville Crusaders), 18. Mike Pletch (Oakville Crusaders), 19. Mike Burak (Pau, France), 20. Colin Yukes (Agen, France), 21. Matt Weingart (Castaway Wanderers), 22. Steve Piatek (Brantford Harlequins). Coach: Ric Suggitt. Assistants: John Tait, Glen Ella, Kevin Wirachowski. Managers: Bob McGeein, Terry MacPherson.

PORTUGAL: 1. Juan Murre (OS Belenenses), 2. Joaquain Ferreira (CDUP), 3. Cristian Spacuhk (OS Belenenses), 4. Goncalo Uva (captain) (GD Direito), 5. Juan Severino (AEIS Agronomia), 6. Diogo Coutinho (GD Direito), 7. Joao Uva (Os Belenenses), 8. Vasco Uva (GD Direito), 9. Luis Pissarra (AEIS Agronomia), 10. Pedro Cabral (CDUL), 11. Pedro Carvalho (G D Direito), 12. Diogo Mateus (Os Belenenses), 13. Frederico Sousa (GD Direito), 14. Antonio Aguilar (GD Direito), 15. Pedro Leal (GD Direito). RESERVES: 16. Andre Silva (Mont de Marsan), 17. Joao Correia (GD Direito), 18. David Penalva (Blanagc), 19. Pedro Murinello (Casacais), 20. Jose Pinto (GD Direito), 21. Duarte Pinto (AEIS Agronomia), 22. Miguel Portela (GD Direito). Coach: Tomaz Morais, Daniel Hourcade, Adam Leach. Manager: Rui Alvarez.

For more information about the newly launched Rugby Canada Network (RCN), click here.

***Note: The friendly England vs. France pre-RWC rubber-match goes this afternoon in Marseille. Will be broadcast at Setanta Sports at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Setanta's RWC pinch 'n sked

Setanta Sports North America has released their RWC schedule.

Setanta Broadband (online) subscribers will see ALL of the games live. That is presumably the $14.99-per-month subscription fee.

Setanta Premium and PPV subscribers ($199) will see MOST of the RWC Pool Stage matches live. There are still a few blank holes in their current schedule on their Pool Stage calendar to say for certain, but presumably all of the games, barring conflicts, will be broadcast live. All of the knock-out Playoff rounds will be broadcast live.

On the regular Setanta Sports North America cable TV channel ($14.99-per-month) however, most of the Pool Stage matches will be shown live, but NONE of the Playoff matches broadcast live - all will be shown DELAYED. Setanta will presumably say they have conflicts with the weekend EPL soccer matches and that those fixtures are their priority.

Bottomline: TV viewers who want to see the Quarters, Semis and Rugby World Cup Final LIVE will have to buy PPV. The only other option is to watch it live on broadband. Or, sit patiently, and watch it delayed on Setanta's 24-hour specialty TV channel.

(Interestingly, Rogers Sportsnet, on regular cable in Canada, has a partnership with Setanta. Rogers Sportsnet gets an EPL game per week, and have an agreement with Setanta to broadcast Canada's RWC Pool Stage matches. Curiously, last night Setanta was broadcasting the St. Kilda-Fremantle AFL (Aussie Rules) match live, then that same game was shown delayed six hours later on Rogers Sportsnet with the little Setanta corporate logo hanging on the upper-right corner of the screen. That network hasn't televised Aussie Rules, if ever, until now. Might it be possible Rogers Sportsnet will re-broadcast tape-delays of Setanta rugby games...? Let's cross our fingers.)

For all the details to Setanta's RWC schedule with links to their subscription services, click here.

Clive Woodward jersey USRFF auction

Always glad to help Brian Vizard and the USRFF raise some funds...


An England warm-up jersey once belonging to defending World Cup champions England head coach Sir Clive Woodward is the latest jersey on auction by the USRFF. Just in time for the true England fan to wear at Rugby World Cup matches, this jersey was worn by Woodward throughout England’s tour of the United States and Canada in June 2001.

In addition to coaching England and the British and Irish Lions, Woodward was also an accomplished player having represented England in 21 test matches and joining the Lions on two tours to the Southern Hemisphere.

This Clive Woodward jersey was donated to the Rugby Foundation by John Tyler, who served as liaison to the England team on their tour to the United States in 2001.

"Coach Woodward presented the jersey to me in appreciation of my liaison work for the England squad when they were headquartered in Northern California," said Tyler, who remains active in the Northern California rugby scene. "I have admired what the Foundation has done and I think that Clive would approve having his jersey help assist the game here."

Photos and a more detailed description of the jersey and Clive Woodward’s rugby career can be found on eBay, item # 180150021521. The bidding will conclude at 10:00 a.m. (PDT) on Thursday, August 23.

The USRFF is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization established in 1963. Although its main focus is supporting youth and high school rugby, the Foundation also provides grants to coaches and referees; establishes international student exchanges and college scholarships, has assisted the United States Collegiate All-Americans and Boys Under-19 teams, and also provides grants to Safety and Risk Management Research.

For more information about the United States Rugby Football Foundation, visit

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Canada trims and finalizes RWC squad

Via Rugby Canada:

Coach Ric Suggitt announced Canada’s 2007 Rugby World Cup squad in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, paring his touring squad by two players.

The final 30-man squad will leave for France on September 1st, at the conclusion of the current cross-Canada Road to the World Cup tour that will see Canada play games from coast-to-coast.

Suggitt has been forced to omit flanker Stan McKeen and fly-half Nathan Hirayama from the squad.


Canada is preparing to play Portugal in a fully sanctioned IRB test match at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Nepean on Saturday, August 18th, at 2:00pm ET.

They will play the Newfoundland Rock team in St. John’s on Saturday August 25th.

Canada will play in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup, against Wales in Nantes on September 9th; Fiji in Cardiff on September 16th, and Japan and Australia in Bordeaux on September 25th and 29th respectively.



Scott Franklin
prop - Castaway-Wanderers - Regina, Saskatchewan

Dan Pletch
prop - Oakville Crusaders - Lucan, Ontario

Mike Pletch
prop - Oakville Crusaders - Lucan, Ontario

Rod Snow
prop - Dogs/Rock - St. John's, Newfoundland

Jon Thiel
prop - Bayside - White Rock, British Columbia

Kevin Tkachuk
prop - Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) - Regina, Saskatchewan

Aaron Carpenter
hooker - Brantford - Brantford, Ontario

Pat Riordan
hooker - Burnaby Lake - Burnaby, British Columbia

Mike Burak
lock - Pau (France) - Vancouver, British Columbia

Jamie Cudmore
lock - Clermont-Auvergne (France) - Squamish, British Columbia

Mike James
lock - Stade Francais (France) - Burnaby, British Columbia

Luke Tait
lock - Overmach Parma (Italy) - Barrie, Ontario

Colin Yukes
back row - Agen (France) - Edmonton, Alberta

David Biddle
back row - Meraloma - Vancouver, British Columbia

Nanyak Dala
back row - Wild Oats - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Adam Kleeberger
back row - University of Victoria - White Rock, British Columbia

Stan McKeen
back row - Cornish Pirates (England) - Vancouver, British Columbia

Sean-Michael Stephen
back row - Béziers (France) - Oakville, Ontario

Mike Webb
back row - Swilers - West Vancouver, British Columbia

Ed Fairhurst
scrum-half - Cornish Pirates (England) - Victoria, British Columbia

Matt Weingart
scrum-half - Castaway-Wanderers - Williams Lake, British Columbia

Morgan Williams (captain)
scrum-half - Albi (France) - Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

Nathan Hirayama
fly-half - University of Victoria - Richmond, British Columbia

Ander Monro
fly-half - Waterloo (England) - Edinburgh, Scotland

Ryan Smith
fly-half - Montauban (France) - Caledon, Ontario

Craig Culpan
centre - Meraloma - Auckland, New Zealand

Derek Daypuck
centre - Castaway-Wanderers - London, Ontario

David Spicer
centre - University of Victoria - Victoria, British Columbia

Nick Trenkel
centre - Capilano - North Vancouver, British Columbia

Justin Mensah-Coker
wing - Albi (France) - Vancouver, British Columbia

James Pritchard
wing - Bedford (England) - Sydney, Australia

Mike Pyke
fullback - Montauban (France) - Victoria, British Columbia

DTH Van der Merwe
fullback - James Bay AA - Regina, Saskatchewan


Earlier: Nanyak Dala out; Rod Snow in.

Full RWC schedule here.

Scrums and spinal injuries

NZH's Chris Rattue puts down his wind-up toy flamethrower for the morning and looks at Rugby's alarming list of forward casualties:

A neck injury has forced Derren Witcombe to call it quits at 28 - before catastrophe strikes. A great bloke leaves on a high, the Auckland rugby media release cried out in the names of the great and the good.

This is a day to celebrate because Witcombe is able to walk, yes really walk, away from playing rugby. The usual nerve damage and arthritis felt by old front rankers will seem like a fair swap.

Like many combatants from the coal face of the rugby scrum, Witcombe has had to announce that he wants to enjoy a full life. Witcombe is not alone. He is part of a rugby wreck. [...]

The IRB and all must keep searching, asking the questions, burning the flame. Because this is a crisis.

Rattue provides a list of notable forward casualties that, whilst not quite as long as the list of professional wrestling fatalities, is nevertheless cause for concern. Hopefully the new IRB scrum laws implemented this past season will show a decline in the number and rate of "freak accidents" for front-rowers, and rugby union won't (god forbid) have to downgrade itself to using ritualized uncontested Rugby League-style scrums. This fan still wants to see a contest. Of course, minus all the neck and spinal cord injuries. The last thing we need to see at the RWC is another Max Brito tragedy. (True, his broken-neck came out of an open-field ruck, not a scrum, but the point stands).

Monday, August 13, 2007

RWC: Canada's pool matches on Sportsnet?

Here's a curious (and unconfirmed) posting dated Fri. August 10th, to a Rugby Canada forum thread that I've been entangled the past couple weeks. A new poster relates some correspondence he had with Jim LaChappelle at Sportsnet. Take it with a grain of salt until further confirmation:

"You recently emailed our network with questions regarding our coverage of the Rugby World Cup. Details have now been finalized. We will be airing all four of Canada's opening round matches during that event. The schedule will be as follows:

Sun Sept. 9th Wales vs. Canada live at 8 am (ET)/6 am (MT)/5 am (PT) across all four Sportsnet channels.

Sun Sept. 16th Fiji vs. Canada live 9 am (ET)/7 am (MT)/6 am (PT) across all four Sportsnet channels.

Tue. Sept. 25 Canada vs. Japan live 12 pm (ET)/10 am (MT)/9 am (PT) across all four Sportsnet channels.

Sat. Sept. 29 Australia vs. Canada live at 9 am (ET)/7 am (MT)/6 am (PT) across two of the four Sportsnet channels for digital customers.

If you only have one Sportsnet channel, your only option will be to see it on tape delay at 4 pm (ET)/2 pm (MT)/1 pm (PT) later that same day.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Jim LaChapelle
Audience Relations

Partial confirmation from Chris Zelkovich's column in The Toronto Star:

Setanta's proposed channel will also affect rugby fans.

They will have to dig into their wallets, too, since Setanta has similar plans for next month's World Cup tournament. While Rogers Sportsnet will air Canada's first-round games, all the others will be carried on the Setanta channels.

A package of games will be available for $199, O'Rourke said.

"This is a concern for us," said Rugby Canada spokesperson Nick Taylor. "By not having games (on regular cable channels) we're losing an opportunity to attract new fans."

Curtain closes on Tana Umaga

One of the greatest rugby players of this-or-any era, Tana Umaga, retired as a top-level player on Saturday afternoon, 62 minutes into Wellington's easy win over Manawatu.

Chris Rattue pays tribute to the ex-All Black skipper:

He's off to France for a princely sum to work as the director of rugby for Toulon, and in that classically downmarket way we pay tribute to sports heroes in this country, Wellington have named aisle 13 at the Cake Tin after him. [...]

[I]f you had to find a best of the best among that quartet of centres [Bruce Robertson, Joe Stanley, Frank Bunce and Umaga], Umaga would be your man because, apart from the elegance of Robertson, he equalled the best attributes of the others and surpassed them elsewhere.

Most significantly, he transformed the standards of the position, adding loose-forward qualities to the centre's game as rugby turned itself into a relentless scrap for possession.

Umaga was a man of limited public words who clearly knew what he valued in life, and doggedly stuck to it. [...]

As he conducted his farewell on Saturday and made a stand opposing violence against children, you suddenly wondered if we had fully realised what a remarkable rugby character has been in our midst. [...]

The wind went out of Umaga's sails the moment he decided to quit international rugby after the 2005 season. But his ship will always sail on. World Cup triumphs have eluded him and you can hunt down a few imperfections. But history will look with increasing awe on Tana Umaga, an enigmatic sporting warrior with that touch of class.

This site would like to offer a hearty thanks to Umaga as a player and continued best wishes for his future in rugby and life. Tana, you deserve it!


Rugby on my TV!

Update(s), below.

For the first time in what seems like years, there's rugby on Canadian tv (and no, I'm not talking about local rugby games played in cornfields on Rogers Local Cable 20). I'm talkin' first class professional rugby

As mentioned in previous posts (below) Setanta Sports has set up shop and is now available for a free preview in Canada until September 10th. The service is provided on cable chhannel 429 where I live (Rogers Grand River Cable - Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge area). Others should check their own listings.

Last night I watched last weekend's Waikato vs. Southland from New Zealand's National Provincial Championship (Air New Zealand Cup), and the Blue Bulls vs. Boland Kavaliers from South Africa's Currie Cup competition.

There's lots more rugby action from both the NPC and Currie Cup this weekend.

Click here for more details.

Update 1: Saw the England vs. Wales pre-RWC friendly last night. But this morning (Saturday) suggested Setanta needs to iron out some wrinkles with their live coverage satellite(s). The EPL soccer kicked-off this weekend with a big promotional network launch, and viewers watching the dramatic conclusion of the Sunderland v. Tottenham match would have had every reason for putting their boot through the TV screen, as Sunderland scored a winning extra-time goal with the screen black and audio cutting-out. The last ten minutes of the match looked like something you might have expected to see in the 1970s. Let's hope it's fixed before September!

Update 2: Saw the England vs. France friendly RWC warm-up from Twickenham on Saturday at Setanta. Viewers might want to check their channel, as the schedule on the Setanta N.America website is dodgy about half the time.

The rugby match was an exciting encounter, won by France 21-15 on the back of a block-busting freakish try by the robust replacement flanker Sebastian Chabal (and, truthfully, aided-and-abetted by some weak English tackling). Most would cite the try as the turning point, which it was, but equally huge was a bone-jarring tackle minutes earlier at the French line by replacement Dimitri Szarzewski on Phil Vickery that swung the game. The Poms had a point lead and it looked for the world like their forwards were rolling to an easy 7-pointer, but stopped dead cold at the line. See Szarzewski's game-saving tackle here:

Without that tackle, Chabal's Lomuesque try might have been for naught.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sportsworld bye-bye

The writing has been on the wall for a while, but it's surprising - and disappointing - to see the plug pulled on "Sportsworld" at Canadian specialty sports cable-tv channel The Score. For what seems like the better part of a decade, the program produced a nightly 30 mins. round-up of international sports and commentary. Hosted by ex-pat Brit James Sharman, the show provided frequent coverage of soccer, cricket, motor sports, tennis., etc., and particular to my self-interest, rugby union. Their coverage was often frustrating, but it was one of the only media outlets in Canada to provide regular rugby coverage and was valuable for that alone. Hopefully the station will continue to broadcast the IRB's "Total Rugby" program.

So, that was fun while it lasted, thanks for the ride.

Sharman will now dedicate all his energies to his new "Footy Show." Footie, meaning even more gossip about Sir Alex Ferguson saying nasty things about Jose Mourinho and vice-versa. Truthfully, it's pretty much been that for the past year.

Sharman writes, "it is a statement of our intent to ride this massive pro-soccer wave that in my opinion will never crash, only gain momentum."

And-a-one, and-a two...

Standing in the rain, with his head hung low
Couldn't get a ticket, it was a sold out show
Heard the roar of the crowd, he could picture the scene
Put his ear to the wall, then like a distant scream

He heard one guitar, just blew him away
He saw stars in his eyes, and the very next day
Bought a beat up six string in a secondhand store
Didn't know how to play it, but he knew for sure

That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn't take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was one way ticket, only one way to go

So he started rockin'
Ain't never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin'
Someday he's gonna make it to the top

And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
He's a juke box hero
He took one guitar, juke box hero, stars in his eyes
Juke box hero, he'll come alive tonight

Now he needs to keep rockin'
He just can't stop
Gotta keep on rockin'
That boy has got to stay on top

And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
He's a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
Yeah, juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
With that one guitar hell come alive
Come alive tonight

Yeah, he's gotta keep rockin'
He just can't stop
Gotta keep on rockin
That boy has got to stay on top

And be a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
He's a juke box hero, got stars in his eyes
Just one guitar, put stars in his eyes
He's just a juke box hero, aah aah aah
Juke box hero, juke box hero, he's got stars in his eyes
Stars in his eyes

(-A fairly well-known song from a really shitty band called Foreigner.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wales get wasted

Wales got humiliated by England 62-5 in a friendly RWC warm-up match Saturday. Now, Wales can argue 'til thew cows come home that they trotted out a 2nd-string line-up, which it was, but the result all the same is a thrashing that begs the question what sort of warm-up and preparation they have going to France. It also makes me feel a bit better about Canada's chances going into Pool B. Wales certainly showed a lot less in their warm-up against England, than did Canada against the All Blacks seven weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Mick Cleary at The Telegraph finally has his blog back online. A commenter "James T" rightly rounds on Cleary with some well-timed upper-cuts ("Why Bag the Blacks?") for a clumsy allegation that had me cocking mine own fist.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Setanta RWC Canadian rights update

Another update (Tues. morning), from Shane O'Rourke, the president of North American operations for Setanta:

RWC live on Broadband all of it.

Setanta Sports Pack $14.99 on Bell and Rogers will include 25 live or near live games.

23 games on ppv $199 and delayed 24-48 hours later as part of the $14.99.

Getting closer. I think. Anyone care to decipher what any of that means...?

There are 40 pool stage matches alone. I would hope the $199 would get me everything live. I shall try to find out...

Yet another update (Fri. morning), from a press release at Rugby Canada:


August 02, 2007
Toronto, ON

Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports announced today a licensing arrangement through which they will jointly offer Canadian broadcasting distributors a pay-per-view (PPV) sports package dedicated to bringing the best international sporting events to Canadian fans, including live coverage of exclusive English Premier League games as well as Rugby World Cup 2007. Rogers Cable and Bell ExpressVu are expected to offer the package with an initial free preview period.

Beginning August 11, the Setanta International Sports Pak will be a must have for soccer fans, with six out of ten LIVE weekly broadcasts of the world's most watched sporting league, Barclays English Premier League (EPL). A further two games will be shown on a delayed basis. The August schedule for the PPV package includes Sam Allardyce's return to Bolton on the first day of the season, Sven Goran Ericsson's first Manchester Derby on the 19th and Roy Keane's first test against one of the big four - Liverpool, on the 25th.

Rugby fans will get into the action as well. The Setanta International Sports Pak will feature the Rugby World Cup 2007; and the best international and club rugby including Guinness Premiership, Super 14, RBS Six Nations and the Heineken European Cup.

"We know first-hand from our weekly matches on Rogers Sportsnet that Canadian fans are passionate about English Premier League as well as other international sports," said Tony Viner, President & CEO, Rogers Media. "Our partnership with Setanta, one of the leading sports broadcasters in the international market, will give Canadians the most access to the best European and international soccer and rugby leagues.

"We are committed to providing Canadian audiences with the highest quality international soccer and rugby programming and this new partnership with Rogers Broadcasting ensures sports fans won't miss a minute of Europe and the World's best," said Roger Hall, chief executive, Setanta Sports North America. "We are delighted that Rogers Broadcasting are our partners in Canada where they have unrivaled experience of providing great sports television to Canada."

The Setanta International Sports Pak will be available on PPV beginning August 11 with the season's first live EPL match between Sunderland vs. Tottenham Hotspur at 7:45am ET. Soccer and rugby fans can contact their local provider for more details on pricing and availability of the PPV package in their market.

Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports hope to establish a digital channel dedicated to soccer and rugby in the future.

That's good news, but I do get the feeling rugby is a big afterthought here, and I'm still unsure about the nitty-gritty vis-a-vie the RWC. What do they mean by "offer[ing] Canadian broadcasting distributors a pay-per-view (PPV) sports package"?

Will this be a high-end digital cable channel with high dollars per test a-la a De La Hoya - Mosley fight? I am hearing it may be $15 to $25 per test match (the upper strata presumably for the knock-out stages) and Ms. France confirms below a complete PPV RWC package of all the games for $199. None of these prices seems particularly cheap for anybody aside from the dedicated rugby devotee.

If those rumoured prices are reality, then fans wanting to just grab the RWC may find the CND$14.99 "monthly" broadband subscription offer a better way to go. We shall see...

That last point, quote, "Rogers Broadcasting and Setanta Sports hope to establish a digital channel dedicated to soccer and rugby in the future" - what does that mean? That they will have to go through the hoop-jumping of a CRTC license application? Telelatino was issued a CRTC Tier 2 specialty digital cable license 18 months ago for a specialty sports channel called "RCS" (Rugby-Cricket-Soccer) and those foot-draggers are still stalled, not answering questions, with no sign of a launch date in sight. I suppose it doesn't hurt that Rogers is a cable service provider, owns SportsNet and has wads of cash, and the one thing the CRTC understands is $$$. But that's probably a ways past the RWC. I'll doubtless pony up the cash for the complete package, but I still don't see how this deal helps showcase rugby's global event in front of new eyeballs to help grow and develop the sport in Canada.

Believe me, I've been trying to get answers on these questions for most of 2007, and every press release leaves as many confusing open questions for every answer they are supposedly clarifying.

Another update (Fri. morning), seeking some more clarification, Setanta rep Jessica France informs me:

Setanta has exclusive rights to the Rugby World Cup. Some games will be live on the channel and some will be delayed. The games that are delayed on the channel will most likely be offered live on a PPV basis from several companies, but we have not yet gotten confirmation from them.

The games that are not live on the channel will be live on Setanta Premium, which is accessible by bars/commercial establishments ONLY. You can find a bar that has purchased the package by using the venue finder on our website.

We will have a schedule of all the games on our website soon. Our premium schedule lists the games that will be live on premium only--those are the games that will be delayed on the Setanta channel.

Alternatively, all games will be live on Setanta Broadband--please visit and choose "Setanta Broadband" for more information on package prices. I believe that it is $199 for the RWC PPV package, or if you subscribe to the annual Broadband package, then it is $149.99 for the year and that includes all PPV matches including the RWC. If you have any queries about this service, please contact the Broadband support at

Quick update (Thurs. afternoon) to the post immediately below, re: Setanta's new Canadian broadband launch;

I knocked-off a query to Setanta, asking:

1. Your broadband release says, "In September, the entire Rugby World Cup 2007 will be included as part of an annual subscription." Will "monthly" subscribers also receive the "entire" RWC package?

2. Does Setanta have a broadcast partner to televise the RWC on Canadian television (cable, digital cable, or PPV)?

Setanta representive Jessica France replied promptly, telling me:

We will be launching our Sports PPV Pack on Bell Express and Rogers Cable at the start of the EPL season (Aug 11). I'd hold off on calling the call center, though, because they probably won't have any info until we actually launch. Please keep an eye on the websites for any updates. The channel will be $14.99 CDN per month, and the free preview time period will vary depending on your carrier.

The pack will basically be the same as the channel that we currently have in the U.S., a mixture of both soccer and rugby. Due to various reasons, no magazine or highlights shows will be shown on the new Canadian Sports Pack. Please visit for more details on our offerings.

That doesn't precisely answer my question, nor confirm how the RWC will be broadcast on Setanta's Canadian cable channel, but we're starting to get closer...

Stay tuned!

Last minute Canadian RWC TV jitters

Setanta just mailed a letter of notice to their broadband subscribers.

One wonders whether they're going to get anything done in time for the launch of their "supposed" cable TV in Canada.

Will we see the RWC on TV in Canada? Fans are still anxious to know. It's worrying. Even the launch of this re-jigged broadband service is cutting it close to the bone. The Rugby World Cup kicks-off at 3pm ET Friday 7 September (France v Argentina).

Hopefully that rumour (see post below) about a possible TV partnership - rumoured announcement to be made circa August 10 - will bear fruit.

In part, Setanta's broadband subscriber notice reads:


From September 1, we’ll be launching a new Canadian service and all our subscribers will have their subscriptions moved over to the new service. This service will include all the headline content currently offered on the North America service [IRB Rugby World Cup 2007, the RBS Six Nations Championship], as well as some great extras, including additional Barclays English Premier League matches.

During the transition, we will also be upgrading the Setanta Sports viewing console, delivering faster speeds for high resolution clips so you can make the most of your internet connection. Medium resolution clips will still be available at 300Kbps, but for those subscribers with the necessary broadband speed, you’ll soon be able to watch at 600Kbps, which will allow you to enjoy all the action in our clearest-ever picture.

The new service will also be charged in Canadian dollars, making payment even more convenient. Whether you are an annual or a monthly subscriber, we will honour the duration of your last payment for the North American service and then from your next payment date you will be charged in local currency.

The cost of the new service will be $149.99 (CDN) for an annual subscription, or $14.99 (CDN) for a monthly subscription. This is a slight increase in the price of a monthly subscription, but with so many exciting improvements coming up, we think you’ll feel it is well worth it.

And what's more, if you've been thinking of moving over to our annual package, now is a great time to change. With annual rates frozen at $149.99, you are effectively getting two months free, plus you can also enjoy loads of fantastic content not included in a monthly subscription.

In September, the entire Rugby World Cup 2007 will be included as part of an annual subscription. We also have the UEFA Champions League matches to look forward to, as well as Euro 2008 qualifiers, coverage of the GAA All-Ireland Championship, next year’s RBS Six Nations tournament, and lots more.

If you wish to upgrade to an annual package – or to cancel your current subscription – drop our customer service team a line at

Question: Will "monthly" subscribers also receive the "entire" RWC package?

Stay tuned...