TV/Internet Rugby Game Listings in Canada

How to watch Rugby this week/weekend

IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!!!! – IT SEEMED THE PARTY WAS OVER WITH PREMIER SPORTS ASIA AS THEIR CONTENT APPEARED GEOBLOCKED FOR THIS COUNTRY. IT IS WORKING NOW BUT WITH A VPN, ALTHOUGH RECENTLY MOST PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ACCESS IT WITHOUT A VPN. NOT SURE IF THIS IS A TREND FOR THE FUTURE, BUT IT IS STILL YOUR BEST BET FOR RUGBY BY A LONG SHOT IN THIS COUNTRY. HOWEVER WE SUGGEST YOU REFRAIN FROM AN ANNUAL PLAN AND STICK TO THE MONTHLY PLAN!!

The new United Rugby Championship which replaces the old PRO14 has its last regular season games this weekend. The knockout stages look to be dominated by Irish and South African teams and there is plenty to play for in this final round of the season ahead of the knockout stages. Just like with the Heineken Cup, Covid and its latest mutation got its hooks into numerous fixtures and there have been several cancellations/postponements. It is being shown along with the Premiership in England in Canada on Sportsnet Now+ with limited coverage on the regular Now service. Premier Sports Asia has the whole thing live and on demand and is available either with or without a VPN connected to a Hong Kong server.

The Heineken Cup’s semi finals last weekend gave us some thrilling games. There have been some cracking matches, despite the whole thing taking on a slightly farcical nature in terms of qualification for the last sixteen as a result of wins being awarded to teams because of COVID cancellations. Nevertheless putting aside the fairness or lack of it in how these forfeited matches have been awarded, we’ve ended up with an exceptionally tasty final in prospect between Ireland’s Leinster and France’s La Rochelle. Sadly in Canada the only way to watch it is live through EPCR TV and in a limited capacity with FRANCE 2. This weekend’s semi final action saw both games covered for free on the UK’s Channel 4 and France 2 so there are some options to catch them free (albeit limited) as well as the pay per view option through EPCR TV. Also unlike EPCR TV the games were available on demand with France 2, though we are not sure how long after they have aired live.

The same weekend that the Six Nations kicked off also saw the start of the 2022 Major League Rugby season. Toronto’s Arrows will be based in Canada this year though until April 2nd their one home game was played in Langford, BC. From April 2nd onwards they returned to York University Lions Stadium in Toronto. The Arrows seem to be struggling towards the end of the season and a playoff spot is looking increasingly remote. This weekend’s game against the worst team in the league, the Dallas Jackals, was critical to the Arrows as they needed a big win which they got if they were to keep any faint dream of a playoff spot alive. TSN and the Rugby Network will be broadcasting their entire season live and on demand although for on demand content as usual it is a bit sketchy with TSN, and if you miss any of the games live, your best bet to catch up is the The Rugby Network which is free – details below.

The new Super Rugby Pacifica Tournament is now well underway comprising five teams each from New Zealand and Australia as well as two teams from the Pacific Islands. It should be a fascinating contest and gets especially interesting this weekend as teams start competing across the Tasman and we’re away from the local derbies that have dominated the tournament so far. TSN has the broadcast rights and will be showing it in this country. Premier Sports Asia has the whole thing live and on demand and is available through a VPN connected to a Hong Kong server. TSN is also covering the whole tournament on their bonus streaming service, but their on demand is likely to be much patchier than Premier Sports Asia if you miss those 3 AM Eastern kick off times.

Sadly it has to be said that watching rugby this year in Canada looks set to continue to 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 has us covered but now does require accessing it through a VPN which it didn’t use to need. Its extensive coverage of all the tournaments barring the Heineken Cup still makes it our go to choice for rugby watching in this country. However, like we say in the opening paragraph maybe refrain from taking out an annual subscription and stick to the more costly monthly plan in case we end up getting burned down the road later.

Here’s what we know so far:

Premiership Rugby (England): Sportsnet Now+ and Premier Sports Asia with the latter 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 with the latter 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 with the latter 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

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 with the latter having the superior on demand coverage

Champions Cup (Heineken Cup)EPRCTV (streaming service of EPCR’s official body)

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 with a note of caution, Premier Sports Asia is our preferred viewing source, but it now requires accessing it through a VPN and a Hong Kong server to view which it didn’t used to. 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 despite the risk of it potentially being geoblocked later in the year, it’s still worth it. We wouldn’t advise the annual plan though even though it is much cheaper, just in case blocking does become an issue further down the road. At the moment you do need a VPN to access it and 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.

https://www.premiersportsasia.com/

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 will also be showing the Six Nations this year. DAZN is $20 CDN. 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.

https://www.dazn.com/en-CA/sport/Sport:59zkrmozaazlyumpmqw5hpdp7

We’ve added a Podcast to our repertoire! It is also available on Anchor and Spotify among others. We continue our weekly wrap up of rugby action around the globe.

United Rugby Championship

This competition replaces the PRO14, between Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian Clubs. 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. We also know that RTE Ireland and BBC will be showing 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 will get to watch most of the games. RTE will be covering the Irish games while BBC will be covering Scottish and Welsh games. Many of these games will also be available on demand.

The competition continues this weekend for one final round of regular season competition. It features all four South African sides travelling North, but with the Sharks, Bulls and Stormers all guaranteed a playoff spot, there is only one game featuring South African sides that looks set to be really tense. Friday’s fixture between Ulster and the Sharks looks set to be a cracker and the result will have a significant bearing on how their playoffs will look with both sides keen to secure a home quarter final. Elsewhere across the competition on Saturday there is a tense Scottish derby with Glasgow travelling to Edinburgh. Although both sides should qualify for the quarters, the losing side will be out of the running to compete in next year’s Heineken Champions Cup. Also on Saturday, is a local Irish derby between Munster and Leinster. With Leinster comfortably sitting atop the table and guaranteed a home quarter final whatever the outcome, and with the Heineken Cup silverware on the line for them next weekend in Marseille, expect them to field a somewhat diminished side. With Munster out of the Heineken Cup this year they will have it all to play for and will be keen to guarantee themselves a home quarter final in the process by beating Leinster on Saturday.

Ulster vs Sharks – Friday, May 20th – 2:35 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+ and Premier Sports Asia (live and on demand)

Edinburgh vs Glasgow – Saturday, May 21st – 1:30 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+ and Premier Sports Asia (live and on demand)

Leinster vs Munster – Saturday, May 21st – 2:15 PM (Eastern) – Sportsnet Now+ and Premier Sports Asia (live and on demand)

Also if you want all the highlights of last weekend’s matches you can find them here on the URC website or the Premier Sports YouTube channel:

https://www.unitedrugby.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/PremierSportsTVChannel/featured

There is also the option to buy individual games or weekend passes for all the games on URC TV directly see link below:

https://www.urc.tv/

You have to register for free and then each weekend you can purchase either individual games or weekend passes for all the matches. Individual games go for about $15 CDN which is definitely not cheap especially as they are not available on demand. The weekend passes are available for the same price but only give you access to four games (whether or not they are games of your choice we are not sure of as we don’t use the service). There is also the option to buy a season pass at $75 CDN which does seem to get you every game and it would appear you can also access them on demand (but once again because we don’t use the service we haven’t tried it and are reluctant to drop the cash in order to find out when we get everything we need plus all the other tournaments on Premier Sports Asia live and on demand).

Super Rugby Pacifica

Super Rugby now takes on a very interesting twist as in the tournament’s latest transformation, two teams representing the Pacific Islands are finally included alongside the traditional five teams from Australia and New Zealand respectively. The tournament finally develops its international format of old as instead of local derbies New Zealand sides take on Australian sides, as well as the two Pacific Island teams. It looks to be a fascinating competition, but we are particularly interested to see how the Pacific Islands teams make out, lending a genuine international level of competition to the tournament. As a result there are some really juicy fixtures this weekend with much like last year the Australian outfits struggling to get to grips with their New Zealand counterparts. This weekend it all kicks off in the wee hours of Friday morning Canadian time, but most of our attention is focused on some rather tasty fixtures on Saturday. Friday’s action boasts two intriguing fixtures involving the South Pacific Island teams. New Zealand’s Crusaders host Fijian Drua and then Australia’s Reds host Moana Pasifika. On Saturday it’s Australia’s top team the Brumbies hosting New Zealand’s top team the Blues. New Zealand’s Highlanders host the Waratahs as our final game of note on Saturday. It’s an interesting match as the Waratahs are failing to hold up against Kiwi competition despite the successful season against fellow Australian rivals, while the Hurricanes seem to have found an antidote to their dismal domestic season by competing against Australian sides, so it will be fascinating to see if the Highlanders upward trend continues and the Waratahs downward slide continues building momentum.

Crusaders vs Fijian Drua – Friday, May 20th – 03:05 AM (Eastern) – TSN Bonus streaming schedule (live and possibly on demand) and Premier Sports Asia (live and definitely on demand)

Reds vs Moana Pasifika – Friday, May 20th – 05:45 AM (Eastern) – TSN Bonus streaming schedule (live and possibly on demand) and Premier Sports Asia (live and definitely on demand)

Brumbies vs Blues – Saturday, May 21st – 05:45 AM (Eastern) – TSN Bonus streaming schedule (live and possibly on demand) and Premier Sports Asia (live and definitely on demand)

Highlanders vs Waratahs – Saturday, May 21st – 23:35 PM (Eastern) – TSN Bonus streaming schedule (live and possibly on demand) and Premier Sports Asia (live and definitely on demand)

TSN is covering the whole tournament on their bonus streaming service, though whether or not games will be available on demand remains to be seen. If it not, then our go to is Premier Sports Asia, which has the competition live and on demand, (really useful for those kickoffs at 1 or 3 AM Eastern). Here is TSN’s schedule:

https://www.tsn.ca/2022-super-rugby-australia-international-friendlies-the-rugby-championship-on-tsn-1.1616704

Heineken Cup

Despite all the Covid related cancellations that have plagued the competition and made it a slightly lopsided tournament, we’ve ended up with a very tasty final in prospect in a fortnight’s time. Sadly your only option to watch it in this country has been until this weekend is to catch it on a live only basis and not exactly cheap either. So if you missed any of the games live, then you were pretty well resigned to trawling the Internet a few days afterwards to find an upload. However, the UK’s Channel 4 and France 2 will be showing the final free live and on demand next weekend, in addition to the pay per view live only option on EPCR TV.

If you want to catch all the action, albeit live only and not on demand then your only real bet in this country has been through EPCR TV. A weekend pass which got you all the games (live only) was 19 Euros which worked out at approximately $29 CDN so like we say not exactly cheap. You could purchase individual games at 5 Euros (approximately $7.50 CDN) which is a cheaper option if you are supporting a particular team. Either way though sadly it was not exactly cheap as two full weekends of EPCR rugby is going to cost you almost $60 CDN. Otherwise it was a case of staying off the media and waiting a few days till they were on YouTube. The highlights were shown on the EPCR website for free though right after the games. However, with FRANCE 2 and the UK’s Channel 4 showing the final for free, live and on demand there is no need to to go the EPCR route unless you don’t want to use a VPN.

To watch them on the EPCR streaming site, visit the page below, create a free account and then pick the games you want to watch and pay for them individually or else purchase the weekend pass:

https://epcrugby.tv/

This is the link to the EPCR site but we’ve had trouble finding the highlights and find their YouTube page to be more up to date and quicker with the highlights, if you just want to content yourself with that:

https://www.youtube.com/ChampionsCup

Another option for those French speakers amongst us, is to catch one of the games this weekend on FRANCE 2. This is a free service provided you have an account, and are connected to a French server through a VPN. You simply need to register a free account. The UK’s Channel 4 is showing both games and is available to view in the same way.

https://www.france.tv/

https://www.channel4.com/sign-in-or-register?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.channel4.com%2F

If you missed the thrills and spill of last weekend’s semi finals, here are the highlights:

Premiership Rugby

England’s Premier domestic competition is now underway for the 2021/22 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.

Whether or not they will be shown on any of Sportsnet’s TV channels or like TSN, rugby is to be shown only on the web streaming service remains to be seen. 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:

https://www.sportsnet.ca/sn-world/home/

And here is the schedule grid:

https://now.sportsnet.ca/schedule?type=tvlisting

Major League Rugby

North America’s own professional Rugby season is now fully under way and Canada’s only team the Toronto Arrows, will get 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. Toronto face a challenging end to their season and a very slim shot at making the playoffs. This Thursday night sees them remain in Toronto to take on the league’s best team the New England Free Jacks, where a big win is absolutely essential if they are to have any chance of entertaining a playoff spot, so if you’re in Toronto get out to York Lions Stadium and make some noise for the boys!!! You can purchase tickets here (click on the continue reading link to take you directly to the ticketing site).

Toronto vs New England Free Jacks – Thursday, May 19th – 7:00 PM (Eastern) – TSN 2 and their website (live and on demand) – The Rugby Network (on demand only)

TSN will be covering all their games live and on demand, although most games will be broadcast on their bonus streaming service as opposed to their terrestrial TV channels. This game though is on TV as opposed to the bonus streaming schedule meaning that if you miss it, as long as you’ve set you’re PVR you’ll be covered.

https://www.tsn.ca/tsn-direct-broadcast-schedule-1.1154152

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.

https://www.therugbynetwork.com/

If you missed the Arrows monster win over the Dallas Jackals here are the highlights:

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:

https://gem.cbc.ca/media/the-story-of-rugby/s01

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 thoughts on Italy’s epic win over Wales and the French Grand Slam:

Here’s the link to his channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu2oaGQ6Dds6g9lqfexUFbQ

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 take on this past weekend’s action in the Six Nations, so give him a BIG thumbs up and get behind his work.

And here’s the link to his channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2qxMYu8Afo2vIs6XBNDx_Q

One of the most comprehensive site for International Rugby news is without doubt Planet Rugby see link below:

http://www.planetrugby.com/

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.

http://www.ultimaterugby.com/

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:

https://www.rugbypass.com/

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 always thanks to everyone for checking in, and getting our visitors over the 50,000 mark, including 600 regular followers.

Take care everyone, stay safe and Happy New Year and here’s hoping that 2022 finally sees us take the long road out of COVID once and for all!

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