January 27 – This Day in Rugby

The Greatest Rugby Match Ever Played

The ‘greatest match ever played’ played between the Barbarians and New Zealand All Blacks meeting in the Final Challenge Match of 1973 was played on this day in rugby history.  The Barbarians scored one of the most memorable tries in rugby history and went on to win 23 -11.

“People tend only to remember the first four minutes of the game because of the try, but what they forgot is the great deal of good rugby played afterwards, much of which came from the All Blacks,” Gareth Edwards said of the match. “For us after the success of the 1971 Lions tour, which captured the imagination of the whole country, it was an opportunity to bring a lot of that side together again.”

The All Blacks’ highly successful tour was coming to a close, only a draw against Ireland had prevented them from achieving the Grand Slam. The Barbarians’ side included some of the truly great players of the era, men such as Bennett, Carmichael, Duckham, Edwards, Gibson, McBride, Slattery, Pullin and JPR Williams.

The All Blacks too had players who will never be forgotten, Batty, Going, Kirkpatrick, Wyllie and Lambert.

The Try, ‘that’ try as it is known, is still used today as an outstanding illustration of the spirit of not just the Barbarians, but of the sport of Rugby Football.

The game is unlike most rugby today and featured constant attack and counter attack play.  The wide open game is a hallmark of New Zealand sides but was played to perfection by the Barbarians on this day.

Setanta Transfer Rights To FOX Soccer

Rugby has always been in short supply on TV in the U.S. and the options took a hit on this day in rugby history in 2010 when Setanta announced they were transferring their rights to rugby events to FOX Soccer Channel.

The pay-per-view channel stopped airing programming in the U.S. on February 28 of that year.

“This is a significant milestone in the re-organisation of Setanta Sports, following the acquisition of Setanta’s businesses in Ireland, the US, Canada and Australia in July 2009,” Leonard Ryan, Co-Founder of Setanta Sports said.

“Having examined several options for our US business, we concluded that the best course of action for the Group is to exit the US market and to concentrate on other markets where we can be a more substantial player in sports television.  This transaction enables us to achieve that objective and to explore new opportunities in other markets.”

The announcement was met with shock by rugby fans who immediately put together a campaign to keep rugby on TV in the U.S.  Rugby players were worries as FOX was a go to broadcaster for rugby when still called Fox Sports World but transitioned primarily an outlet for soccer leaving rugby out in the cold.

Rugby Birthdays

1972 – Keith Wood, Irish rugby player

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