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NBC Sports to present comprehensive coverage of 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens

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STAMFORD, Conn – NBC Sports will present comprehensive coverage of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens from San Francisco, Calif., on July 20-22, totaling more than 30 hours of live rugby coverage across NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product, representing the most robust U.S. coverage of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in the event’s history.

“As the home of rugby in the United States, we’re proud to showcase the speed and excitement of the Rugby World Cup Sevens to a national audience with record-setting coverage,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “Our 30-plus hours of coverage of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens and exclusive offerings on NBC Sports Gold demonstrate our commitment to super-serve the growing rugby fanbase in the United States.”

The 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens will be held at AT&T Park – home of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants – and will feature the top 24 men’s teams and top 16 women’s teams in the world as they compete for the World Cup.

NBC Sports will present live coverage of all matches of the men’s and women’s tournaments. Linear coverage begins on Friday, July 20, at 4 p.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, followed by six hours of coverage on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. Weekend coverage on NBC on July 21-22 will immediately follow live golf coverage of The 147th Open at Carnoustie, and NBCSN will carry live coverage of both the men’s final on Sunday, July 22, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs – will provide streaming coverage of all 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens matches airing on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. Additionally, all coverage airing on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will also stream on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.

2018 RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS TELECAST SCHEDULE
Date Network Time (ET)
Fri., July 20 Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA 4 p.m.
NBCSN 7 p.m.
Sat., July 21 Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA 12:25 p.m.
NBC 3 p.m.
Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA 5 p.m.
NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
Sun., July 22 Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA 11:55 a.m.
NBC 2:30 p.m.
  Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA 5 p.m.
NBCSN 7 p.m.

 

NBC SPORTS GOLD 2018 RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS COVERAGE

NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will provide live, commercial-free coverage of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens via its “Rugby Pass.” Coverage begins with the Women’s Round of 16 matches on Friday, July 20, at 1 p.m. ET, prior to coverage airing on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET. In addition to all matches airing live and commercial-free, NBC Sports Gold will also present an exclusive 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens preview on Thursday, July 19, as well as a daily live recap show with highlights, post-match reactions and analysis. All matches and content on NBC Sports Gold will be available to fans on demand. The “Rugby Pass” can be purchased for $59.99 by visiting NBCSportsGold.com.


NBC SPORTS 2018 RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS COMMENTARY TEAM

NBC Sports’ game commentary and studio coverage will originate from San Francisco and will feature numerous high-profile rugby players, including current New England Patriots safety and 2016 U.S. Olympic Sevens team member Nate Ebner, who will serve as a studio analyst. Former USA Sevens captain Brian Hightower, U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame member Dan Lyle, former Premiership Rugby and English international prop Alex Corbisiero, and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will provide game and studio commentary throughout the tournament. Leigh Diffey and Bill Seward will handle play-by-play commentary, and Ahmed Fareed will host NBC Sports’ 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens studio coverage on-site in San Francisco.

Last year, NBC Sports Group acquired the exclusive U.S. media rights to the Rugby World Cup through a seven-year partnership with World Rugby. The agreement included media rights on all platforms and in all languages to the Rugby World Cups in 2019 and 2023; the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 and 2021; the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018 and 2022; and the annual World Rugby U20 Championships from 2017-2023.

NBC Sports Group’s multi-year agreement with World Rugby enhances its already robust slate of rugby programming, which includes exclusive Olympic rugby coverage through 2032, Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Sevens World Series, and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. NBC Sports Group has also provided coverage of the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups, and exhibition matches in conjunction with USA Rugby that feature the USA Eagles, New Zealand All Blacks, and Qantas Wallabies.

Guinness Six Nations: Wales equals wins record after Italy scare in Rome

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ROME (AP) — Wales equaled its all-time record for consecutive wins after overcoming a plucky Italy 26-15 in Six Nations rugby on Saturday.

Italy scored the only try of the first half to trail by 12-7 at halftime. Wales didn’t score a try until the 53rd minute and finished with only two. Italy scored a second try, too, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Wales from an 11th successive victory, tying the Welsh record set 109 years ago.

Italy extended its own record streak with a 19th straight defeat in the Six Nations since 2015. The 99-year-old tournament record became theirs outright last weekend in Edinburgh.

Wales’ winning streak started against Italy in the 2018 Six Nations.

Coach Warren Gatland made 11 changes after the fortuitous win over France in Paris last weekend, trying to build experience in a Rugby World Cup year.

That Wales finished with its least points and tries in Rome in six years didn’t worry Gatland, who was far more satisfied with starting the championship with two wins away from home before returning to Cardiff to face title rival England in two weeks.

But he warned, “If we play like that against England it could be embarrassing.”

Stand-in captain Jonathan Davies was frustrated.

“I can’t fault the boys’ effort,” he said. “That accuracy in the final quarter was probably what we lacked. But we came to a difficult place to play rugby and got the result. Italy made things tough for us.”

But a comfortable win at Stadio Olimpico was on the cards as Dan Biggar kicked Wales to a 12-point lead in the first half hour.

Then Italy struck from an attacking lineout as Dean Budd and captain Sergio Parisse surged. Sebastian Negri and David Sisi helped in getting flanker Braam Steyn over the line, and the game descended into the tight contest the Welsh feared.

Tommaso Allan converted Steyn’s try but hit the post with a penalty just before halftime. He nailed a penalty after the break to cut the deficit to two.

Wales sent on regular captain Alun Wyn Jones and finally hit back and pulled away with converted tries by Josh Adams and Owen Watkin to make the result safe with 10 minutes to go.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea rued what he believed to be a missed opportunity.

“We were very close in points for 50 minutes where we were fully in the match,” O’Shea said. “We had an opportunity in the second half but the energy at that time went in their favor.”

Wales flew down the right touch then attacked down the left, where fullback Liam Williams drew the last man to send Adams into the corner for their first try.

Wales thought it scored another 10 minutes later, but Jonathan Davies was adjudged by the TMO to have knocked on.

The second try came from a delicate chip by replacement flyhalf Gareth Anscombe for Watkin to pounce on.

Italy made the scoreline more respectable when Allan exploited a gap and teed up Edoardo Padovani into the right corner.

Right at the end, Wales flanker Thomas Young was denied a try on debut when a forward pass was caught in the buildup.

Italy already looks consigned to a fourth consecutive wooden spoon. Defending champion Ireland arrives in two weeks. But Steyn, who was a standout for Italy, believes any home match is winnable.

“The hardest challenges,” Steyn added, “are the best.”

Guinness Six Nations: England switch from underdog to favorite against France

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Praise can make you weak. Eddie Jones threw that comment at Ireland last week as a warning about living up to expectations.

Those expectations were then shattered by Jones’ England side as they smashed the Irish in Dublin to kick off the Six Nations.

Naturally, praise has been showered on England for producing its best rugby performance since 2012 when it thrashed New Zealand 38-21 at Twickenham.

Having been hailed far and wide for the remarkable all-round triumph, its England’s turn to cope with all of the pats on the back, to switch from underdog to favorite before France turns up on Sunday at Twickenham.

“By Sunday we’ll be at our best,” Jones promises.

To prove all the praise has had no effect won’t be easy, especially when England isn’t in hostile territory but back in the cozy comforts of home. Its victory has enlarged the target on its back, with four rounds to go.

“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” hooker Jamie George says. “We must realize that we can’t just rest on that win, believing that because we’ve produced one good performance we’ll be winning the World Cup. We need to build on this.”

The good news — and bad news — is the next opponent is France.

France should have sunk Wales last week in the rain in Paris, but Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez missed 13 points off the tee, and Yoann Huget and Sebastian Vahaamahina gave away two converted tries. Wales, without really firing a shot, won by five points.

Instead of just replacing injured backs Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard, and prop Uini Atonio, and showing some faith, coach Jacques Brunel has prolonged the turmoil the team can’t escape by tearing it apart and asking new combinations to hit the ground running in a stadium where France hasn’t won in 12 years.

He’s brought Geoffrey Daymourou and Mathieu Bastareaud into the centers, apparently to counter the considerable threat of Manu Tuilagi. They are the only survivors of the backline which beat England last year in Paris. But two more centers are on the wings in Gael Fickou and Damian Penaud. Meanwhile, Huget has been moved to fullback, where the wing hasn’t started for France in almost six years.

Center Romain Ntamack and lock Paul Willemse, who made their debuts against Wales, have been demoted to the reserves.

The French pack was huge and surprisingly mobile against Wales but flanker Yacouba Camara has been given his first cap since the 2018 Six Nations, and lock Felix Lambey and tighthead prop Demba Bamba will make their first starts. Bamba will be marking Mako Vunipola. Of Bamba, Brunel says, “He’s come up against a few good players.” But not Vunipola, who almost subdued the Ireland pack on his own.

If any rescuing is required, France’s reserves offer 25 caps of experience in total. Toulouse prop Dorian Aldegheri and fullback Thomas Ramos are uncapped, and four others have one cap each. Brunel says, “I expect them to bring their enthusiasm late in the game.”

England winger Chris Ashton, who has lost twice to France and never scored against them, expects the Tricolors to be desperate after blowing the Wales game.

“It will be an angry French team,” he says. “They love a reaction.”

Ashton set the Top 14 try-scoring record in his lone season with Toulon in 2016-17, and believes the Top 14 doesn’t prepare the French for test rugby.

“The Top 14 is a slow stop-start game. It’s not anywhere near (test level),” he says. “Maybe that step up shocks them in that first couple of games, but they will get up to speed very quickly.”

If praise can make you weak, then criticism can make you strong. Ashton better hope “very quickly” isn’t on Sunday.