How to watch Rugby this week/weekend
In terms of international competition, that’s it for the men’s game until the November Tours, but the Women’s World Cup gets underway in New Zealand this month. It’s of particular interest to Canadian viewers as Canada is likely to go deep into the tournament as they are ranked third in the world. TSN will be showing the whole thing both on the web and on their TV channels.
It has to be said that watching rugby this year in Canada continues to often be a complex, expensive and frustrating past time. The various competitions are spread amongst a plethora of broadcasters this year, some free, some paid, some requiring a VPN and above all none of it is particularly cheap. Bottom line seems to be that in this country if you want to catch all your rugby this fall/winter/spring reliably you could be looking at up to $60+ CDN a month in subscription fees which is pretty depressing, and is hardly going to help grow interest in the game here. Premier Sports Asia however has us covered in Canada and still doesn’t require a VPN and fortunately has almost 80% of rugby viewing needs throughout the year. Its extensive coverage of all the tournaments barring the Heineken Cup still makes it our go to choice for rugby watching in this country. Your other option is US based carrier FLO Sports, they also have everything including the Heineken Cup which Premier Sports at least as of now does not. However, unlike Premier it does require you using a VPN through a US server.
Here’s what we know so far:
Summer Tests and Tours: Premier Sports Asia will have the whole lot and TSN will have England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales’ tours to the Southern Hemisphere in July. FloRugby is also an option using a VPN and a US server and those interested in the USA’s qualifier for a spot in next year’s World Cup is up for grabs.
Men and Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens South Africa – the action all starts this Friday and lasts until Monday. It is being shown on CBC’s website as well as on TV, but the live games are only being shown on the website.
Premiership Rugby (England): Sportsnet Now+ ,Premier Sports Asia and FLO Rugby with the latter two having the superior on demand coverage
United Rugby Championship (replaces the PRO14): Sportsnet Now + as well as some games free to air on a mix of BBC and RTE Ireland as well as URC TV which works the same way as EPCR TV for the Heineken Cup and Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby with the latter two having the superior on demand coverage
Rugby Championship: TSN (with TSN’s on demand coverage a bit of a bad joke at times) and Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby with the latter two having the superior on demand coverage
Womens Rugby World Cup New Zealand – Starts in early October – TSN will be broadcasting the whole thing live and hopefully on demand on both their TV service and the website.
TOP 14 (France) – Premier Sports UK (not Asia) and with a VPN, subscription arrangements similar to Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby
Six Nations (Men and Women’s) – DAZN and Premier Sports Asia (as well as BBC and ITV with a VPN)
Super Rugby Pacifica – TSN (with probably limited on demand games and being only web based so good luck catching those 1 and 3 AM kickoff times) and Premier Sports Asia and FLO Rugby with the latter two having the superior on demand coverage
Champions Cup (Heineken Cup) – EPRCTV (streaming service of EPCR’s official body) and now FLO Rugby
Major League Rugby – TSN and The Rugby Network for live and on demand coverage
As things change we’ll keep you updated particularly if there are cheaper options.
Like we say, Premier Sports Asia is our preferred viewing source, and for now does not require accessing it through a VPN and a Hong Kong server to view. At $33 Canadian a month it’s a good deal and gets you everything barring the TOP 14 in France and the Heineken Cup. However, Six Nations, English Premiership, URC, Summer Tours, Super Rugby Pacifica, Rugby Championship and Autumn Internationals are all there so it’s definitely worth it. We were advising against the annual plan even though it is much cheaper, just in case blocking did become an issue further down the road. It would seem that it looks set to continue without a VPN a year on from when we first started using it, so the annual plan is a pretty good deal at $169 USD (approximately $215 CDN). At the moment you do not need a VPN to access it but if you did in the future, as always we use Express VPN and a Hong Kong server with no problems. You still have to list your country as one of the ones listed in the drop down menu when you sign up as Canada is not listed, but you can pay with a Canadian credit card. Some people have tried to download the app, but be advised you CANNOT access it’s content through any of the apps either for Apple or Google Play you can ONLY access the content through the website below. However the website can be easily accessed through iPads, PCs and Macs with no problem and without having to use a VPN:
Our other new go to is US based service Flo Rugby which has all the same content as Premier Sports Asia but is a wee bit more expensive at $40 CDN a month and you also need a VPN to access, but like Premier it’s on demand service is excellent and also they have the added benefit of having the Heineken Cup which has traditionally been difficult to access in this country. However, as comprehensive as the service is, we’ve had difficulty playing the replays from our laptops (no problem with live broadcasts however) whereas with Premier Sports it works across all platforms. While this isn’t the end of the world, given that you need a VPN logged into a US server it makes it much more complicated to cast the replays from your phone or iPad to your TV as your Chromecast also has to be logged into the same server which is a pain. Consequently to bypass this you need to connect an HDMI to your laptop which is using the VPN directly to your TV. We’re sure there are probably easier ways to do it but we can’t get it to work otherwise. Like I say it is fine if your happy just watching on an iPad or phone, but otherwise it’s not as easy as Premier Sports which does not require a VPN and is a piece of cake to cast to your TV. As mentioned above live games are not a problem but we have had a lot of difficulty with the web based service for on demand playback.
TSN has the SANZAAR tours and should be showing a fair chunk of them on one of their TV channels as well as on their bonus streaming site, both live and on demand (though the on demand side of things can be a bit hit and miss at times). See Schedule below:
DAZN has now reentered the rugby broadcast landscape in Canada. They showed all the Autumn Nations series played by the Six Nations competitors England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. They also broadcast the Six Nations this year. DAZN is $20 CDN a month. There is no buildup with DAZN but halftime is no longer simply an endless rotation of NFL scores and statistics, as they at least show highlights of the first half. However for the summer they are showing nothing, so there is very little point in subscribing until November at the earliest.
We’ve added a Podcast to our repertoire! It is also available on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify among others. We take an initial look at the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off this weekend, and in which Canada is ranked third in the world, as well as quick whip round the URC.
Women’s World Cup – New Zealand
The Women’s edition of the global showpiece gets underway this month in New Zealand, and on form Canada looks to go deep into the tournament as they are currently ranked third in the world. The good news is that TSN has us covered live on their TV channels and on the website as well as hopefully on demand given that most games will be taking place in the wee hours of the morning. The action all kicks off this Friday with South Africa facing off against France. Canada’s chances of at least a quarter final spot are essentially guaranteed and a semi-final shot also looks promising. Our pick of the weekend’s action is Saturday’s matchup with Australia and New Zealand, followed up by the USA’s contest with Italy. However, the big ticket item for us here in Canada is their matchup with Japan as Saturday’s last match. Then on Sunday Wales and Scotland do battle which given their tussles in the Six Nations should be entertaining to say the least.
The full schedule on TSN is shown below with all games being shown on TV:
Australia vs New Zealand – Saturday, October 8th – 2 AM (Eastern) – TSN 5 (live and on demand)
USA vs Italy – Saturday, October 8th – 7:30 PM (Eastern) – TSN 3 (live and on demand)
Japan vs Canada – Saturday, October 8th – 10:15 PM (Eastern) – TSN 1 (live and on demand)
Wales vs Scotland – Sunday, October 9th – 12:30 AM (Eastern) – TSN 3 (live and on demand)
United Rugby Championship
This competition replaced the PRO14, between Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian Clubs and is over till September. It features teams from these four countries with the added excitement this year of South Africa’s top four franchises – the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers. It all gets underway next weekend. The 2022 season is now fully underway and the first two rounds have thrown up some interesting surprises, perhaps most significant being traditional Irish giants Munster struggling to fire a shot so far, Italian teams looking rather feisty and a seeming resurgence of Welsh provincial rugby. Sportsnet Now+ is broadcasting it live and in a very limited capacity on demand in this country. Premier Sports Asia has you fully covered, see link above both live and on demand along with American provider Flo Rugby, although with Flo you will need to use a VPN using an American server, which you do not have to do with Premier and the replay function has issues depending on what type of device you are trying to watch on. RTE Ireland and BBC also showed a large number of the games for free, so if you have a BBC account and/or RTE account, all free and accessible with a VPN, you got to watch many of the games. RTE covered the Irish games while BBC covered Scottish and Welsh games. Many of these games were also available on demand. With the success of the tournament this year, whether or not these arrangements will persist for next season remains to be seen.
Our picks of this weekend’s fourth round action are spread across Friday ,Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, South Africa’s Lions who are undefeated so far, get the ball rolling with a visit to Scotland’s Edinburgh. That’s followed by an all Irish derby between out of form Connacht and Munster. On Saturday, defending champions South Africa’s Stormers travel to Italy to take on a suprisingly feisty Zebre Parma. Irish giants Leinster and South Africa’s Sharks face off against each other in Dublin. That’s followed by a charging Ulster hosting the best Welsh outfit the Ospreys bolstered by the return of Welsh superman Justin Tipuric. Next up a struggling Glasgow Warriors will seek to make Scotland an uncomfortable holiday for South Africa’s Bulls. Lastly on Sunday can Benetton keep their run of form going against this season’s surprise package the Welsh Dragons?
Edinburgh vs Lions – Friday, October 7th – 2:00 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Connacht vs Munster – Friday, October 7th – 2:00 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Zebre Parma vs Stormers – Saturday, October 8th – 9:55 AM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Leinster vs Sharks – Saturday, October 8th – 12:10 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Ulster vs Ospreys – Saturday, October 8th – 2:20 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia (live and on demand only) and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Glasgow vs Bulls – Saturday, October 8th – 2:15 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia (on demand only) and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Benetton vs Dragons – Sunday, October 9th – 9:40 AM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+, Premier Sports Asia (on demand only) and Flo Rugby (live and on demand)
Also if you want all the highlights of matches you can find them here on the URC website or the Premier Sports YouTube channel:
England’s Premier domestic competition gets underway this weekend and although we don’t cover it here on the Lineout as it is a purely domestic competition like France’s Top 14 league, quite a few of you have asked us who has the rights for it here in Canada. Sportsnet World has had the rights for several years now, and has had games available live and on demand (though their on demand coverage is extremely limited if you miss games live). Premier Sports Asia also has the tournament live and on demand.
Like TSN’s coverage of Super/SANZAR rugby, games should be live and on demand, however the on demand side of things is pretty poor to nonexistent. Here’s the link to set up Sportsnet World through your cable provider if you haven’t already got it in your TV package:
And here is the schedule grid:
Major League Rugby
North America’s own professional Rugby season is now over for another year and Canada’s only team the Toronto Arrows, got to play at home this season, compared to last year where they were forced to take up residence in Atlanta due to the pandemic. It was a poor season overall, last year for the Arrows, but it was hoped that their return to home soil would bode well for a good campaign akin to their standout season just before the pandemic hit two years ago, but this year seemed to be more about rebuilding for what is hopefully a more successful season in 2023.
TSN covered all their games live and on demand with the exception of this weekend, although most games will be broadcast on their bonus streaming service as opposed to their terrestrial TV channels.
Another option is The Rugby Network. It’s absolutely free and has games live and full replays as well as highlights of all the MLR games. All you have to do is register for a free account, see link below. Content is usually available within 24 hours of the game being played.
General Internet Listings for following International Rugby
One little nugget I would like to share with everyone is this that I came across on CBC Gem. It’s a six part series on the history and development of our beloved game. It is superbly produced and full of fascinating insights with lots of rugby’s famous faces in it. It’s available absolutely free with a no obligation 30 day free trial on CBC Gem, so catch it while you can – thoroughly worth six hours of your time!!!! See link below:
Our YouTube favorite is Squidge Rugby. His highly entertaining and insightful videos on our glorious sport have become the The Lineout’s number one weekly YouTube go to location at the moment. The videos are well put together, have some fascinating insights into the topic being discussed and have a production value that is both highly amusing and ingenious. Well worth your time and more than likely to put a smile on your face over a cup of coffee and provide some talking points with your rugby mates. Here are his first two excellent previews in a series of three on the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicks off this weekend:
Here’s the link to his channel:
For a contrasting opinion from New Zealand and our other fan favorite we also really like Two Cents Rugby on YouTube. An enthusiastic Kiwi fan who knows his players and the game and probably has the most extensive rugby jersey collection on the net. Here’s his team of the Rugby Championship, so give him a BIG thumbs up and get behind his work.
And here’s the link to his channel:
One of the most comprehensive site for International Rugby news is without doubt Planet Rugby see link below:
For following the games if you can’t watch them either on the Internet or Television then they always have a very useful live tracking feature for all the big games, both for the Six Nations and Super Rugby as well as the World Cup. This allows you to get minute by minute updates on the games as they progress on either your computer or smart phone. If you’re on the road, this is a fabulous tool and best of all it’s free, along with their excellent coverage of the world game, and discussion forums (but be prepared to be shot down in flames by some of the more die hard fans if they feel your opinions aren’t well founded). If you’re a rugby fanatic then it’s pretty easy to lose time on this website and well worth a weekly or daily visit.
Another source of excellent international rugby coverage especially for video is Ultimate Rugby. Its video coverage features highlights, interviews and other interesting tidbits of rugby trivia. Nicely produced and well worth spending some time at. It also has a live match tracker like Planet Rugby and one which you can actually post comments on as the action unfolds which is a nice feature.
Our other favorite site is Rugby Pass who some of you may remember used to broadcast huge amounts of Rugby out of Hong Kong and was a lifeline for many of us with a VPN in the days when accessing international rugby in this country was like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Although they are no longer in the broadcasting business their site hosts a huge amount of rugby content and articles on the various aspects of the modern international game. There are documentary videos and weekly specials as well as a ton of rugby journalism and like Ultimate Rugby if you like your stats it’s a good place to go. It’s free for the most part but for a $10 CDN annual fee you get additional access to some premium video content and articles. It’s well worth a visit:
We are now out on the air. Yes we’ve taken the plunge and set up a Podcast. Time and work permitting we hope to put something out every week, usually Wednesdays at the latest. It will probably centre around our weekly wrap of what rugby to watch at the weekend and why, but also more in depth pieces on the big tournaments. But no it won’t be simply someone reading out the latest blog post word for word if that’s what your wondering, although it will feature the posts as a base. It’s all experimental for now and a work in progress but we’re looking forward to the next stage in the Lineout’s development. Who knows maybe there’s even a YouTube channel in our future somewhere down the road!
As mentioned in the most recent podcast there is a series on Amazon Prime documenting the All Blacks 2017 season “All or Nothing” which had plenty of ups and downs similar to the roller coaster ride the team is on at the moment. There are a lot of fascinating paralells with this year, and an insight on some of the personalities involved so is well worth a watch – see link below for a description and if you’re a Prime member well worth a watch:
As always thanks to everyone for checking in, and getting our visitors over the 60,000 mark, including 600 regular followers.
Take care everyone, stay safe and go Canada’s ladies GOOOO!!!!