Glendale Raptors Host New Orleans Gold Rugby

Glendale Raptors vs. New Orleans Gold: MLR Exhibition

The Glendale Raptors begin their exhibition season against the New Orleans Gold Rugby Club this Saturday, March 10 at 3 pm MST at Infinity Park. Preceding the match at 1:30 pm, will be a high school match between Regis Jesuit and Jesuit NOLA High Schools.

The matches are free as it is Fan Appreciation Day. For those that can not attend this Major League Rugby exhibition match, there will be a live stream at

The action is always better in person. Get either season or individual match tickets for the Glendale Raptors MLR season.

Glendale Raptors

In attendance will be local Denver media and Major League Rugby personnel, in addition to members of the Raptors owners group and key investors and sponsors of Major League Rugby.

The match will see the debut appearance of Rudi the Raptor, the team’s mascot, players and coaches providing rugby 101 instruction, exclusive X-Blades apparel available from the O’Brien Rugby shop, and the opportunity for fans to receive autographs following the match. Additionally, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver will be in attendance as the Raptors’ special guests. The regular season launches April 21 at Infinity Park.

Infinity Park is located at 4599 East Tennessee Avenue, Glendale, Colorado 80246.

Glendale Raptors

Head Coach David Williams has selected an experienced team combined with a few younger players to face New Orleans Gold.

The front row will have Luke White at loosehead prop, captain Zach Fenoglio at hooker, and Kelepi Fifita at tighthead prop. White is from Australia and has been at Eagles training camps, played for the Denver Stampede and for Glendale. Fenoglio has 17 caps for the Eagles, 8 as a starter, and has played for Glendale, Belmont Shore, and the Denver Stampede. Fifita played with the USA Selects in 2017, Northern Arizona University, and Tempe, before joining Glendale.

The Locks include Ben Landry with 12 caps for the Eagles (11 as a starter) paired with Casey Rock, who has played with the team since its inception in 2007. Rock has also played for Marist in New Zealand and Brothers in Brisbane, Australia. Landry has also played for the Seattle Saracens.

In the back row, Connor Cook will pair with John Quill at flanker, while Grigor Kerdikoshvili is at No. 8. Quill has played with the Eagles and has 25 caps (15 as a starter). He played in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, played for Munster U18/19s, and for Youghal RFC before joining Glendale. Cook and Kerdikoshvili are younger players with Cook having played for Waimea and Arkansas State and Kerdikoshvili playing for Air Force before joining Glendale.

The halfbacks include an Eagle combination of Shaun Davies at scrumhalf and Will Magie at flyhalf. Davies has 15 caps from 2012-18 (8 starts) and has played with the Ohio Aviators, Glendale and with BYU. Magie has 13 caps from 2017-18 (7 starts). He has played for the Denver Stampede, and in the UK for Otley, the Ealing Trailfinders, and the Old Albanians.

The Centers include Bryce Campbell with 15 caps for the Eagles from 2016-18 (14 starts)  and Chad London with 6 caps for the Eagles from 2014-16 (3 starts). Campbell played at Indiana University before joining Glendale, while London played for the Denver Stampede, and Glendale.

The back three include wings John Ryberg and Harley Davidson, with Maximo de Achaval at fullback. Ryberg played at the University of Iowa before joining Glendale. Harley Davidson, a USA MCAA Sevens player, played at Life University and with Snake River. Maximo de Achaval is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and played for the USA Selects and the Denver Stampede, as well as for Glendale.

The reserve forwards includes props Blake Rogers, who played in College at the University of Colorado before joining Glendale and Nick Kwasniewski, who joined the team from Grand Canyon University. At hooker is James Del Bozque, who has been with Glendale since 2009. Max Dacey is a 6’7″ lock who played with Mary Washington University. Peter Dahl, a flanker, played with the Eagles from 2009-13 and has 12 caps (9 as a starter). Brian Wanless, a No. 8 played at the University of Colorado prior to coming to Glendale.

In the backs are scrumhalf Jake Chrismann, who joined the team from Flyde in England. He also played for the USA U20s. Mika Kruse is a flyhalf/center, who was a High School All-American playing for Bullard Youth Rugby. Ata Malifa is a center, who is from American Samoa. He has 4 Eagles caps and also was capped with the Eagles 7s team in 2009. Malifa played with the Denver Stampede, Glendale, and with the Classic Eagles. Seth Halliman has one Eagles Sevens cap, was a College All-American at Central Washington Unversity, and also played with American International College.

New Orleans Gold Rugby Club

Nate Osborne, head coach of NOLA Gold, has made two changes from their 30-12 loss February 24 against the Houston SaberCats. Nikola Bursic returns at lock after playing for Chile in the Americas Rugby Championship. With Bursic’s inclusion, Myles McQuone shifts to the reserves. John Stapleton also starts at fullback in place of JP Eloff.

The New Orleans Gold Rugby Club trains at the Westbank Athletic Club and practices at Gretna Park. Their regular season MLR matches will take place at Archbishop Shaw Field.

The team has officially has listed 21 players on their roster, however, several other players have played with the team since opening camp. On Jan. 20 against the Capital Selects, Matt Wirken, Melvin Desouza, and Joey Sok were on the 23 man squad as replacements. Against the SaberCats, Wirken and Desouza played as reserves, as well as Alec Janotka, Todd Dupre, and John Stapleton. Some of the extended NOLA Gold players, like Will Crawford, may see action with the New Orleans Rugby Football Club D2 team. Look for other team player articles and announcements soon.

New Orleans Gold Rugby Squad

The front row of the New Orleans Gold is an international one. Hubert Buydens, a loosehead prop, has 47 test caps for Canada from 2006 through 2018, 37 of them as a starter. He also played in both the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup. Eric Howard, Vice Captain, has 11 caps for Canada at hooker between 2016-2017. Rounding out the front row, Ben Tarr, a tighthead prop, who has 11 caps for the Eagles.

Nikola Bursic, a lock, is a dual national player from the USA and Chile. He has 27 caps for Chile, 25 as a starter, and has just returned from the Americas Rugby Championship. He will team with John Sullivan, who played for Mystic River, as well as the 1823 and Stars 7s teams.

In the back row, Vince Jobo played Super Rugby with the Free State Cheetahs, Matt Hughston played professionally with the Ohio Aviators, as did No. 8 Sebastian Kalm.

In the backs, scrum-half Holden Yungert played for the USA Selects and is paired with captain Taylor Howden, another Ohio Aviator at flyhalf. The Aviators connection continues at center with Zack Stryffeler with Moni Tongauiha having played with Life West and the USA Islanders.

The back three include wings JoJo Tikioisuva and Ratu Rinakama with John Stapelton at fullback. Tikioisuva played professionally with the Sacramento Express and most recently with Metropolis RFC. Rinakama Also played with Metropolis, the Glendale Raptors, and the Atavus All-Stars. Finally, John Stapleton, who joined the team prior to the match against the Houston SaberCats, gets his first start. He played in Sydney for West Harbour in the Shute Shield, and most recently for Cincinnati RFC.

The reserves include loosehead prop Derrek Van Klein, who played for the Ohio Aviators, James Bay, and Metropolis. Cam Falcon, a tighthead prop/ hooker, played for the Sacramento Express, the Wellington Lions, as well as New Orleans RFC. Alec Janotka plays hooker/prop for New Orleans RFC, Scioto Valley, and Notre Dame College. Locks include Myles McQuone and Matt Wirken. McQuone, as a sea captain, as well as the former captain of the DIII National Champion Fairfield Yankees, and also played rugby sevens for the Stars 7s. Wirken played for the Kansas City Blues and at Lindenwood University.

Backs reserves include scrumhalf Michael Baska, an All-American 7s player from Lindenwood and Arkansas State. Bobby Johns is a center, who has led New Orleans RFC for many years. Melvin DeSouza is a wing, who played with Metropolis and in college with Minnesota State – Mankato.

Glendale Raptors Exhibition Season

  • March 10 vs. New Orleans Gold 3 pm MST Preview
  • March 30 at Utah Warriors 7 pm MST
  • April 7 at New York Athletic Club 1 pm MST, 3 pm EST

Glendale Raptors 2018 Major League Rugby Season

  • April 21 vs. Austin Elite 3 pm MST
  • April 28 at Seattle Seawolves 8:30 pm MST, 7:30 pm PST
  • May 5/6 at Utah Warriors
  • May 13 vs. San Diego Legion 6 pm MST
  • May 26 at San Diego Legion 7 pm MST, 6 pm PST
  • June 2/3 at New Orleans Gold
  • June 8 vs. Houston SaberCats 7 pm MST
  • June 16 vs. Seattle Seawolves 7 pm MST

New Orleans Gold Pre-Season

New Orleans Gold 2018 Major League Rugby Season

  • April 21 At Houston Sabercats 7 pm CT
  • May 5/6 At Austin Elite
  • May 12/13 Home vs. Seattle Seawolves
  • May 19 Home vs. Houston SaberCats 6 pm CT
  • May 25 At Seattle Seawolves
  • June 2/3 Home vs. Glendale Raptors
  • June 9/10 Home vs. San Diego Legion
  • June 16 At Utah Warriors 8 pm MT

Glendale Raptors & New Orleans Gold Squads

Glendale Raptors: 1 Luke White 2 Zach Fenoglio 3 Kelepi Fifita 4 Casey Rock 5 Ben Landry 6 Connor Cook 7 John Quill 8 Grigor Kerdikoshvili 9 Shaun Davies 10 Will Magie 11 John Ryberg 12 Bryce Campbell 13 Chad London 14 Harley Davidson 15 Maximo de Achaval 16 James Del Bozque 17 Blake Rogers 18 Nick Kwasniewski 19 Peter Dahl 20 Brain Wanless 21 Max Dacey 22 Jake Christmann 23 Mika Kruse 24 Seth Halliman 25 Ata Malifa + Head Coach David Williams

New Orleans Gold: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Eric Howard (VC) 3 Ben Tarr 4 Nikola Bursic 5 John Sullivan 6 Vince Jobo 7 Matt Hughston 8 Sebastian Kalm 9 Holden Yungert 10 Taylor Howden (C) 11 Joeli Tikoisuva 12 Zack Stryffler 13 Tesimoni Tongauiha 14 Ratu Rinakama 15 John Stapleton16 Derrek Van Klein 17 Cameron Falcon 18 Matt Wirken 19 Myles McQuone 20 Bobby Johns 21 Michael Baska 22 Melvin Desouza 23 Alec Janotka + Head Coach Nate Osborne

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant