After bitching about Setanta's programmers the past couple weeks, it's time the balance sheets were tipped in their favour with a small compliment. Last Saturday was a smorgasbord for the rugby fan, as Setanta televised Super 14, Guiness Premiership and Magner's League matches most of the day. (Of course, the fact that EPL schedule was shut down for the day due to F.A. Cup fixtures, might have had something to do with the blessing, but I'll not look a gift horse in the mouth, not this week).
The quality of all the rugby was petty good, especially the defenses across the board. It's fascinating watching the Northern Hemisphere version, which has always looked tighter and slower than SH rugby, and comparing it to the vastly swifter Super 14 matches featuring the new ELVs (Experimental Law Variations). The jury is still out on those new laws, and we'll be paying close attention over the following weeks. Still early days yet to be rushing to judgment.
There were too many matches I saw this past week, and a fair few I didn't see, for me to comment on them all. As always, good wrap-ups and previews can always be found in the link box at the upper-right of my page. They have been vetted and approved and are here for a very good reason -- use them!
One comment I will make is the loss of the Hurricanes to the Waratahs in Sydney. Inky reckons the 20-3 scoreline flattered the losing visitors (strange, his latest post isn't online yet; I read his e-mailout), but what I saw was a very gritty and determined Hurricanes team that controlled much of the match but let it get away with the worst case of dropsies and butterfingers I have seen in a long time. (Almost as icky a sight as Jerry Collins down on his knees sucking air after getting shouldered in his exposed lower-back while fielding a high up-and-under.) Perhaps the Hurricanes fan(s) at TSF (see below) knew something the rest of us didn't (preview is still missing). Hopefully they'll turn it around in short order, because they are an exciting, thrilling team.
Strong first-up victories for the Crusaders and Blues, who have tough days ahead in South Africa next up, which might tell us a lot about the 2008 competition.
If you want to see rugby on TV or broadband online, live or taped, make sure to check out the Setanta and Mediazone Rugby Channel links.