How to watch Rugby this week/weekend
BREAKING NEWS!!!!! – The Pacific Four Series final two rounds of games between the Women’s sides of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA will all take place in Ottawa from July 8th-14th – so if you can make it to Ottawa for either of those weekends let’s get out there and give our fantastic women a sellout crowd!
With European Rugby now essentially over till the World Cup, with the exception of France’s TOP 14 which wraps up towards the end of June, our primary focus is now on the conclusion of Super Rugby and the start of the International Season in the Southern Hemisphere. On that note, Super Rugby sees its last round of regular season games this weekend and Major League Rugby continues with the Arrows back home for the duration of the season for their final three games. So if you haven’t had a chance to catch the Arrows in action at York Lions Stadium, then you’ve only got three opportunities left as a playoff spot is simply not on the cards this year.
It has to be said that watching rugby in Canada continues to often be a complex, expensive and frustrating past time. The various competitions are spread amongst a plethora of broadcasters, 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 $40+ 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 100% of your rugby viewing needs throughout the year. Its extensive coverage of all the tournaments now including 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. However, unlike Premier it does require you using a VPN through a US server and they did not have the Six Nations except for games on demand a week later. DAZN will also be showing the Six Nations, Womens Six Nations and U20 Six Nations as well as not requiring a VPN, however given that Premier is also covering it and so much else, it’s not really the best package. As several of you have pointed out, if you’re willing to trawl the Internet and not unwittingly stumble across the scores, then you can catch some of the Premiership, URC and Heineken Cup games fairly shortly after they’ve been aired on YouTube, but it is not the most reliable way to catch your rugby especially if you don’t want spoiler alerts.
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. However with the World Cup this year there won’t be any just World Cup warm-up matches see further down the list.
Autumn Internationals: Premier Sports Asia, FLO Rugby US and DAZN will be showing all the internationals live and on demand. Premier and DAZN do not require a VPN but FLO does. All three platforms have the games live and on demand.
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): Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby as well as some games free to air on a mix of BBC and RTE Ireland. There is also URC TV which works the same way as EPCR TV for the Heineken Cup. Sportsnet Now+ is also showing the URC but given it’s limited coverage, high price and very spotty on demand availability we don’t recommend it.
Heineken Cup (Champions Cup) – Premier Sports Asia and FLO Rugby (live and on demand). There will also be some games available live and on demand on a mixture of the UK’s Channel 4, BBC, RTE Ireland and France 2. EPCR TV will also be broadcasting all games live in Canada for a fee, but games are only available live.
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
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). FLO Rugby also has it but games are only available on demand a week after they have been played so not really much use.
Super Rugby – 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
Major League Rugby – TSN and The Rugby Network for live and on demand coverage – also advance purchase season tickets for those living in Toronto are available see link below.
Pacific Four Series 2023 – This is an annual competition between Womens’ teams from Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand and takes place from April to July. Some matches will be played in Canada this year so hopefully we’ll get to see the ladies in action and cheer them on in person. We are not sure of TV coverage yet and dates and venues are still to be confirmed. The opening round was not available but we have got a video of it. We’ll keep you posted.
World Cup Warm-up Matches – Not much to report so far other than we know that DAZN will be broadcasting up to 15 of the games being played by Northern Hemisphere teams and we assume TSN will cover the Southern Hemisphere games as well as possibly Premier Sports Asia. However, for now DAZN is the only certainty we have on this matter.
As things change we’ll keep you updated particularly if there are cheaper options. As several of you have pointed out, for some of the club competitions such as the URC and Heineken Cup, you can often get games on YouTube free sometimes only a few hours after the games have been played live, but scouring the net can often give the score away if you’re not careful and if that’s an important criteria for your rugby viewing enjoyment then be warned – but it’s still an option if you’re reluctant to shell out.
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. However, Six Nations (Men and Womens’), U20s Six Nations, English Premiership, URC, Summer Tours, Super Rugby Pacifica, Rugby Championship, Heineken (Champions) Cup 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 its content through any of the apps either for Apple or Google Play you can ONLY access the content through the website below. There is a way to access it through the app but it is not that straightforward as mentioned below.
A couple of people, myself included have recently experienced a few issues with casting to our TVs on Premier Sports Asia as the content drops intermittently while casting to your TV. We’re not sure if this is a permanent condition or not. There is a workaround for it where you can actually load the Premier Sports Asia player onto your phone and cast from it to your TV but it is a bit complicated and if not careful can lead you into some nether regions of the internet. You essentially have to download an APK file onto your phone, and given that such files can sometimes lead you into agreeing to things you don’t want just be VERY careful what you are downloading and agreeing to and while setting it up make sure you have virus/malware protection running. If you do though, once set up the streaming quality is excellent and with no links to anything dodgy or unwanted. The website can be easily accessed through iPads, PCs and Macs with no problem however and without having to use a VPN and if you don’t mind connecting an HDMI cable from your laptop to your TV then you don’t have to worry about the above mentioned workaround using an APK file. Or conversely just watch it on one of said devices and not bother with casting. Here is the link to the main website:
The other possibility is US based service Flo Rugby and likely to be of interest to those winter snowbirds amongst us who spend time avoiding Canada’s horrid winter down South. It has all the same content with the exception of the Six Nations as Premier Sports Asia but is a wee bit more expensive at $40 CDN a month and you also need a VPN to access except if you’re a Canadian winter refugee down in the States, but like Premier it’s on demand service is generally very good. 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. 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. Obviously all of this is not necessary if you happen to be in the US using it as there you can just stream it direct with no VPN. However, unless you’re a snowbird we don’t really see it of much value to us here in Canada and if you already have Premier here in Canada then when down in the US you simply use a VPN to log into a Canadian or Asian server (not Japan – but Singapore/Malaysia/Hong Kong all work).
TSN has Super Rugby again this year at least 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). At the moment it appears that games are only on TSN+ which is their bonus streaming website but it would seem you have to pay extra for it now, even if you are a subscriber through your cable which is a new departure. It doesn’t really matter if you already have Premier Sports Asia which has the whole lot, but if not then it’s a bit frustrating to navigate.
DAZN has an occasional foray into the rugby broadcast landscape in Canada. They showed all the Autumn Nations series last year played by the Six Nations competitors England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. They also will broadcast the Six Nations (Men and Women’s) this year as well as the Under 20s Six Nations. They will also be showing up to 15 of the World Cup warm-up games this summer played by the Six Nations competitors. DAZN is $25 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. They usually don’t announce any of their rugby listings until until literally days before kick off for some strange reason. (Not very good marketing if you ask us)
We’ve added a Podcast to our repertoire! It is also available on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify among others. The latest edition focuses on the contract extension for Scotland Coach Gregor Townsend and takes a quick whip round the URC, Super Rugby and the MLR (specifically the Toronto Arrows).
We’ve also set up a SuperBru Pool just for fun this year. We’re competing in the URC, Super Rugby, and the MLR. For those of you not familiar with it – it’s just a fun predictor game, there is no betting involved or financial transactions involved, and it’s a free service. All you have to do is set up a profile and join in the fun. If you watch Two Cents Rugby you’ll know he’s a big fan of it and pretty good at it from what we can gather.
Pacific Four Series
This annual competition promoted by World Rugby features Womens’ teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. The opening round took place at the beginning of the month in Spain and Canada got off to a fine start by thumping the USA 50-17. They will meet New Zealand next and then Australia in July 8th and 14th in Ottawa, so get your tickets now and let’s get out there and support our women and make it a full house at Ottawa’s TD Place (see Rugby Canada link for tickets). Canada’s Women look to build on their World Cup successes and we’d argue that although World Champions New Zealand may be a bridge too far Australia is definitely in their sights. You can catch either the highlights on the World Rugby page below or the full match on the YouTube link. Unfortunately we still can’t find any footage of their warm-up game and solid win over the Springboks.
United Rugby Championship
This competition replaced the PRO14, between Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian Clubs and now enters the final two weekends of regular competition. 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. 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.
Well it’s over for another year and WHAT a final we were treated to in Cape Town last Saturday between the Stormers and Munster. If you missed the highlights of another stellar final that could easily hold a candle to the thrills and spills of the Heineken Cup Final played out the weekend before here they are:
You can catch all the highlights on the following two links below, but if you’re a Premier Sports Asia subscriber they also offer highlights versions of the broadcast in addition to the full game.
Heineken Cup (European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup)
This classic tournament set us up for a repeat of last year’s final between Leinster and La Rochelle with this time the action being played out in Ireland in Dublin’s Aviva stadium instead of Marseille. With Leinster chasing that elusive fifth European star and La Rochelle looking for back to back European Championships, there was plenty at stake and it provided us with perhaps one of the greatest Heineken Cup final matches of all time. It was rugby that left us on the edge of our seats for the full eighty minutes and was worthy of a Test level final. It had drama, excitement, extraordinary skills on display and in the shape of La Rochelle a comeback that left us all speechless with admiration.
If you missed the action here are the highlights, but we STRONGLY recommend you watch the match in full:
What’s been really exciting for us here in Canada is that unlike the live only and expensive option of watching individual games on EPCR’s website, we now have two live and on demand options for viewing the tournament. Our go to here in Canada, Premier Sports Asia and which does not require a VPN broadcast all the games, and also FLO Rugby in the US did the same. Premier as always does not require a VPN but FLO does and the American service is more expensive and not as seamless as Premier’s so take your pick. If you’re escaping the Canadian winter in the US then FLO might be a more logical choice for you, but it’s pretty hard to beat Premier in our view and even if you are in the States you can still log into your Premier account using a VPN connected to a Canadian server.
Super Rugby’s 2023 season is now fast approaching its business end, and has so far been a lot more riveting than previous iterations, especially as the international aspect of the competition is more active than last year. While we tend to not really focus much on the local derbies, we are particularly interested in the two Pacific Island sides, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua, as well as the trans Tasman fixtures between New Zealand and Australian sides of which there are plenty this weekend.
There’s a full schedule for this weekend’s final round of regular season games ahead of the playoffs and as a result there is EVERYTHING to play for. While the fixtures are mostly local derbies there are a few that caught our eye and all take place on Saturday. First up our tournament favorites Fijian Drua play what is likely to be their last game of the season at home in Suva as they face off against Australia’s Reds who will want to throw the kitchen sink at the locals to ensure a decent playoff spot. Expect a ton of atmosphere as the Drua play their last hurrah in front of their passionate supporters with EVERYTHING to play for. Next on deck we have Australia’s Waratahs, desperate for a decent playoff berth despite their middling form take on one of the most entertaining yet sadly winless sides in the competition Moana Pasifika. The Islanders are well out of the running for the playoffs but will be desperate to claim their first win of the season in this their final match. Lastly, Australia’s Western Force look set to end their disappointing season on Saturday against the New Zealand’s table topping Chiefs in Perth unless they are able to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the year.
You have a variety of viewing options here in Canada. Our first choice is as always Premier Sports Asia, but FLO Rugby in the US with a VPN is also showing the tournament, as is TSN+ aka their bonus streaming site, which you may be able to watch through your TV subscription if you have TSN.
Fijian Drua vs Reds – Saturday, June 3rd – 12:30 AM (Eastern) – Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand) and TSN Bonus Streaming service (live and possibly on demand).
Waratahs vs Moana Pasifika – Saturday, June 3rd – 5:30 AM (Eastern) – Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand) and TSN Bonus Streaming service (live and possibly on demand).
Western Force vs Chiefs – Saturday, June 3rd – 7:55 AM (Eastern) – Premier Sports Asia and Flo Rugby (live and on demand) and TSN Bonus Streaming service (live and possibly on demand).
England’s Premier domestic competition is over for another year 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:
Here are the highlights of the Final between Saracens and Sale Sharks:
Major League Rugby
The MLR is reaching the end of the regular season, and the Toronto Arrows now need to attempt to salvage the remainder of a season that so far has been one to forget. It was a mixed season overall last year for the Arrows, and 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. However, last season seemed to be more about rebuilding for what is hopefully a more successful season in 2023 but so far it’s rapidly turning into one to consign to the dustbin of history, not helped by their 80-5 drubbing at the hands of the New England Free Jacks last month. The Arrows have traditionally started slowly in the competition, however with the halfway point in the competition come and gone they have only managed one narrow win and two frustrating draws. Injuries have plagued the team this season, which hasn’t helped, but this new look team does look seriously out of their depth so far in the League. Hopefully some pride can be salvaged for the remainder of the season, but there are no easy fixtures between now and the end of the regular season and a playoff spot is definitely out of contention for another year. This weekend the Arrows are back in town for the remainder of the season and their last three games. They take on this year’s surprise package the Houston Sabrecats who are fifth overall in the league.
Toronto Arrows vs Houston Sabrecats – Saturday, June 3rd – 7:00 PM (Eastern) TSN 2 and TSN+ Bonus streaming service, and the Rugby Network (live and on demand)
Here are the highlights of Toronto’s road trip loss to New England in a slightly more flattering scoreline than the last time the two teams met:
And since we definitely need some good news for the Arrows this season here it is!!!!
There are various deals on right now giving you an opportunity to make sure you’re there this year to support the boys. More information can be found on the Arrows website below:
TSN covered all their games live and on demand and are doing so again this year though at this stage we can’t vouch for the on demand side of things but see option below through the Rugby Network for excellent on demand coverage. Most games will be broadcast on their bonus streaming service as opposed to their terrestrial TV channels. We’ll upload the schedule once we get it. The first game of the season is this Friday as they take on Atlanta.
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. On demand content is usually available within 24 hours of the game being played.
General Internet Listings for following International Rugby
Our YouTube favorite is Squidge Rugby. His highly entertaining and insightful videos on our glorious sport have become the The Lineout’s number one YouTube go to location for quite some time now. The videos are well put together and the analysis is absolutely top drawer. They 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 latest thoughts on that REMARKABLE Champions Cup Final:
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. Mark is 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 thoughts on the final round of the Six Nations. Along with the mighty Squidge his opinions are so respected that both are now regular contributors to such sites as Planet Rugby.
Here’s his review of the Champions Cup Final and the URC final:
And here’s the link to his channel:
In conjunction with Two Cents, one of Mark’s mates Tony does a more lighthearted take on our beloved sport in his Distracted Sports videos, and we’ve had a good few chuckles over some of his output. As Monty Python used to say “and now for something completely different” check out some of his content. Here’s his take on divided loyalties for Ireland and Scotland in the Six Nations.
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:
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 parallels with last 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:
We’re also reading at the moment an interesting and very topical book by former Connacht player, now performance Coach Brian Moylett. In it he talks a lot about the mental side of the game and the preparation required for coping with the pressures put on modern day professional rugby players. As the game develops an increasing emphasis on player welfare and mental health, this read is valuable to both amateur players and those aspiring to the big leagues. We hope to have Brian as a guest on an upcoming Lineout podcast in the near future. In the meantime check out Brian’s book on Amazon below:
As always thanks to everyone for checking in, and getting our visitors over the 100,000 mark, including 700 regular followers.
Take care everyone and stay safe.