With the finals match results in, the Big Ten championship weekend is set. Michigan and Wisconsin will play each other in a rematch of last year’s third place playoff. The Defending Big Ten champions will defend their 2015 title against Ohio State once again. The championship day of rugby will take place on November 12th in Elkhart, IN and should be a full day of rugby with six matches to be played.
This weekend, the Big Ten conference has scheduled a bye week for the teams to rest before the final Saturday of rugby. The bye week perfectly coincides with a fantastic weekend of international rugby in Chicago, IL. On Friday November 4th, the USA Eagles will face the Maori All Blacks at 7pm CDT in Toyota Park. The Rugby Weekend will continue with what should be a very entertain meeting of northern and southern rugby between Ireland and World Champions, New Zealand. The Saturday match will take place at 3pm CDT in Soldier Field. The Eagles game can be watched live on The Rugby Channel.
This is the third Rugby Weekend Chicago has hosted in three years. This type of rugby event is essential to the continued growth of rugby in the Midwest and the rest of the country. The Big Ten teams benefit the most from these events and often organize team trips to watch the high quality rugby matches that have become regular fall occurrences. When asked about the weekend, Ohio State Head Coach Tom Rooney said, “These events are a big deal in the Midwest”. The Buckeyes have planned trips to Soldier Field in the past but will be working through standard practice weeks heading into their championship match against Indiana. Instead, the players will watch the two matches together to bookend a Saturday morning practice.
Indiana’s Bryce Campbell has been selected to start for the Eagles tonight at outside center against the Maori All Blacks. Watching a current Big Ten player be part of the national team is hugely inspiring. It is a direct link between the collegiate and international level of play. Getting to measure yourself against the best only fuels more to become better rugby players.
Having rugby broadcast across the country first on The Rugby Channel and then on the NBC Sports Network is very important to rugby in the United States. Watching arguably the most dominant sports team in recent history, The New Zealand All Blacks, play the sport of rugby is sure to make fans out of anyone.