Glendale Raptors & Austin Elite: CBSSN Game of Week
The Glendale Raptors host Austin Elite Rugby this Saturday, April 21 in the home opener of Major League Rugby at 3 pm MDT at Infinity Park, the first rugby-specific stadium in the nation. Two hours prior to kickoff, there will be festivities at the Raptors Fan Zone, a tailgate-style pregame party featuring games, activities, food, drinks, and more.
Raptors head coach David Williams discussed entering the inaugural season of professional rugby, indicating his team is prepared: “We’ve become more resilient during a long, successful preseason, but real tests are the in-season games. We want to start strong and show our confidence in front of our home crowd.” Assistant Coach Ted Browner added that ‘the team is looking to continue its preseason success, and knows that the competition on Saturday will be stiff’: “This is the toughest competition we’ve faced, as it’s our first in-season game. Austin will bring a tough side with lots of experience.”
The match between the Glendale Raptors and Austin Elite Rugby was selected to be the CBS Sports Network Game of the week and will be featured in a national broadcast. As such, it has meant an influx of media guests in attendance. Other Major League Rugby personnel, members of the Raptors owners group, and key investors and sponsors of MLR will also be in attendance.
Major League Rugby has partnered with CBS Sports Network, to broadcast the game of the week, as well as the semi-finals on June 30 and the championship on July 7. AT&T Sports and Cox Communications will broadcast non-game of the week matches.
Austin Elite Rugby General Manager Thierry Daupin indicated that “Two years ago we were all dreaming about this, and now we’re excited to be playing in the MLR season opener against Glendale. We’re excited to be back on the Glendale pitch after winning the USA Rugby D1 Championship in 2017.” Mike Ablett, Marketing Director for Austin Elite Rugby, expressed similar sentiments: “To be part of Major League Rugby is an honor for the brand and the players. We look forward to running onto the pitch for the MLR season opener.”
Season and single-game tickets are available online at glendaleraptors.com, and can also be purchased at Infinity Park starting at 1:00 pm on Saturday.
The Glendale Raptors are a fusion of veteran players with the infusion of very talented young players. The team had three pre-season fixtures and won them all and are now ready to begin the inaugural 2018 Major League Rugby season.
Head coach David Williams has selected a squad that he feels will shine on the national and international stage as the team plays Austin Elite Rugby in the CBS Sports Network Game of the Week.
The Glendale Raptors are a patient team who feel very confident in the set pieces of forwards. Four Eagles are members of that unit in Zach Fenoglio at hooker, Ben Landry at lock, John Quill at flanker, and Peter Dahl at No. 8. Then included Luke White and Kelepi Fifita at prop, Casey Rock at lock and Connor Cook at flanker. White is from Australia and becomes the eligible for the USA in January and would like nothing more to wear an Eagles jersey for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 in Japan. Fifita played for Northern Arizona University and for Tempe RFC prior to joining Glendale.
Casey Rock has been with Glendale since its inception and will add to his memories of the team and Infinity Park as he takes the pitch at lock. He will pair with Ben Landry, who the Ealing Trailfinders announced that Ben Landry will be joining Andrew Durutalo on the team for the 2018/19 season. Add flankers Connor Cook, who is a dynamic player around the pitch and at the breakdown, as well as Eagle John Quill and No. 8 Peter Dahl and they are a force.
The backs include Eagles halfbacks Shaun Davies and Will Magie, with another Eagle Bryce Campbell at center. Campbell is paired with a very talented former High School All-American Mika Kruse who is already showing why he deserves to be on the pitch after proving he can score tries. The back three include the talented veteran Maximo De Achaval, who played professionally for the Denver Stampede. Collegiate All-Americans Seth Halliman and Harley Davidson man the wings.
In the reserves, the Raptors just signed Eagle hooker Daylan Fawsitt and Super Rugby flanker Samuel Figg. They will be joined by props Blake Rogers and Nick Kwasniewski, and back row Brian Wanless. Jake Christmann, the former U20 player is a scrumhalf, and Eagles center Chad London and the versatile Eagles 15s and 7s back, Ata Malifa rounds out the squad.
Austin Elite Rugby
Based on the 0-3 record of Austin Elite Rugby and the 3-0 record of the Glendale Raptors, many in the rugby media have selected the Glendale Raptors to finish first and Austin Elite Rugby to finish 7th. I choose to place the emphasis on how teams perform that day.
Both teams added players. Glendale added Dylan Fawsitt and Samuel Figg, while Austin Elite has had a surge of talent in Victor Comptat, Pedrie Wannenburg, Todd Clever, Ross Deacon, and Roland Suniula. Today, April 21, is when the regular season begins.
Both Mike Brown and Ross Deacon played for Rugby United New York, who just ended their season. Brown is a hooker, while Deacon played back row. Victor Comptat played for the USA U20s and played for C.A. Brive in France. Pedrie Wannenburg now has a dual role as a player-coach. He has played for the Springboks and most recently for the Denver Stampede. Todd Clever is the most capped player in USA history. Adding two legends to the backrow is an asset. Finally, Roland Suniula just completed his Italian Eccellenza season with Reggio.
In the front row, both Chris Schade and Mason Pederson both played professional rugby and aMike Brown with RUNY. The locks include former U20 players Ben Mitchell and Victor Comptat, who played in Ireland and in France, respectively. The back row in an all South African one. with Kyle Breytenbach, Hanco Germishuys, and Pedrie Wannenburg.
The halfbacks pairing will be Michael Reid, who was part of PRO Rugby and Timothée Guillimin from France. The Suniula brothers Andrew and Roland, man the centers. Both are capped Eagles and have played professionally for many years. The back three were talented college players in Sani Taylor, Reece Czarnecki, and Zac Mizell.
The match between Austin Elite Rugby and the Glendale Raptors is an anticipated one in which the rugby public will be watching on CBS Sports Network as the game of the week. The international audience may watch on the Major League Rugby Facebook page.
Glendale Raptors & Austin Elite Rugby 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 Peter Dahl 9 Shaun Davies 10 Will Magie 11 Seth Halliman 12 Bryce Campbell 13 Mika Kruse 14 Harley Davidson 15 Maximo De Achaval 16 Blake Rogers 17 Nick Kwasniewski 18 Dylan Fawsitt 19 Samuel Figg 20 Brain Wanless 21 Jake Christmann 22 Chad London 23 Ata Malifa + Head Coach David Williams
Austin Elite: 1 Chris Scade 2 Mike Brown 3 Mason Pedersen 4 Ben Mitchell 5 Victor Comptat 6 Kyle Breytenbach 7 Hanco Germishuys 8 Pedrie Wannenburg 9 Michael Reid 10 Timothée Guillimin 11 Sani Taylor 12 Andrew Suniula 13 Roland Suniula 14 Reece Czarnecki 15 Zac Mizell 16 David LeMasters 17 Siaosi Finau 18 Robert Drummond 19 Todd CLever 20 Knute O’Donnell 21 Alex Faison-Donahoe 22 Sione Fangaiuha 23 Ross Deacon + Head Coach Alain Hyardet (# based on video release)
Glendale Raptors Exhibition Season
- March 10 vs. New Orleans Gold (W 38-14) Preview
- March 30 at Utah Warriors (W 42-15) Preview
- April 7 at New York Athletic Club (W 35-22) Preview with March 30 recap against Utah Warriors
Glendale Raptors 2018 Major League Rugby Season
- April 21 vs. Austin Elite Preview 3 pm MST Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- April 28 at Seattle Seawolves 1:30 pm MST, Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- May 5 at Utah Warriors 1:30 MT Network: AT&T SportsNet
- May 13 vs. San Diego Legion 7 pm MST Network: Cox/AT&T SportsNet
- May 26 at San Diego Legion 6 pm MST Broadcast: AT&T Sports Net
- June 3 at New Orleans Gold 2 pm MDT Network: Cox/AT&T SportsNet
- June 8 vs. Houston SaberCats 7 pm MST Network: AT&T SportsNet
- June 16 vs. Seattle Seawolves 7 pm MST Network: AT&T SportsNet
Austin Elite Rugby Pre-season Schedule
- March 25 vs. San Diego Legion (L 32-24) Preview
- March 31 at New Orleans Gold (L 48-17) Preview
- April 7 vs. New Orleans Gold (L 38-10) Preview with March 31 recap
Austin Elite Rugby 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule
- April 21 at Glendale Raptors Preview 4 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- April 28 at Houston SaberCats 2:30 pm CDT Network: AT&T
- May 3 vs. New Orleans Gold 8 pm CDT Network: AT&T
- May 11 at Utah Warriors 8 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- May 25 v. San Diego Legion 8 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- June 1 vs. Utah Warriors 8 pm CDT Network: AT&T
- June 9 vs. Seattle Seawolves 8 pm CDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
- June 17 at San Diego Legion 7 pm CDT Local Network: Cox/AT&T