When I last lived in Sydney, my typical Saturday involved coaching an under-13 team in the morning, playing about noon, then refereeing a game after that.
The rest of the day I spent watching my club teams, then it was back to the pub for speeches, boat races and watching either Super Rugby or Test matches.
Our club secretary told me “too much rugby is never enough”. I concurred.
I now live in Argentina, where this year there has been a revolution of rugby on TV. The Six Nations and Rugby Championship Tests have always been shown, usually along with one Super Rugby game as well as select Top 14 and European Cup.
Not bad, but last weekend rugby was in overdrive!
All the Super games were shown – not all live, but I recorded them. The Brumbies and Blues were both impressive, but the introduction of the Jaguares was spectacular. Their first was drama-filled, featured scintillating tries and climaxed with a fight-back, one-point win.
Plenty of casual observers in this round-ball-crazy nation surely took notice. The sheer pace of the game was awesome, and although doubts remain about the format, the standard of rugby was top shelf.
The Sunwolves were valiant in defeat, and the crowd was clearly appreciative to have Super Rugby in their backyard.
Next was the Six Nations. I didn’t see Wales versus France, but by all reports I didn’t miss much. Italy, as always, were good in patches and scored a great try, but never really looked like beating Scotland. The England versus Ireland game was the best of the Northern Hemisphere games. England will be a handful in June, however they are all playing behind the times up north.
But the biggest result of the weekend went largely unnoticed.
Brazil kicked a penalty in the last play of the game to beat (an admittedly understrength) USA. John Mitchell, the USA coach, will not underestimate Brazil again, as it may have cost them the championship.
This game was part of an excellent new addition to the rugby calendar named the Americas Rugby Championship. Uruguay, Canada, Chile and an Argentine XV are also involved.
It is a similar format to the Six Nations in that each team plays each other once, and will give these countries some much-needed Test experience and cohesion, which is often lacking in lower-tier sides because they don’t spend much time together.
It also gives fanatics something else to look forward to, even when there is more than enough rugby on the box.