Major League Rugby Preview: San Diego Legion vs. Utah Warriors

San Diego Legion & Utah Warriors

The San Diego Legion will host the Utah Warriors in their home Major League Rugby opener at Torero Stadium on Sunday, April 29 at 4 pm PDT (7 pm EDT). Preceding the match at 1:30 pm PDT the University of San Diego will play the NorCal Pelicans. Tickets are still available.

The match will also be broadcast locally on YurView, in Utah on AT&T Sports Net, nationally on ESPN+, and internationally on the Major League Rugby Facebook page.

Last week, the San Diego Legion lost to the Seattle Seawolves 39-23. The Utah Warriors had a bye but gained a pre-season 80-12 win against Wolf Pack Rugby.

San Diego Legion

The San Diego Legion have a stronger squad to face the Utah Warriors then last week’s match against the Seattle Seawolves. This is due to the return of some players from minor injuries, as well as the addition of Eagle lock Siaosi Mahoni, who returns from France. The Eagles will have 7 Eagles and one former Eagle as starters and another 2 as reserves.

Head Coach Rob Hoadley has made seven changes in the starters for the match against the Utah Warriors. There are three changes in the forwards with Eagles Pat Blair, Tony Purpura, and Siaosi Mahoni starting at hooker, tighthead prop and at lock, respectively. In the backs, there are four changes, with Eagles Nate Augspurger, Ryan Matyas, and Dylan Audsley start at scrumhalf, wing, and at fullback, respectively with Ireland professional Tadhg Leader at flyhalf.

Other forwards include Sione Tu’ihalamaka, who is making a transition from back row/lock to prop. Albert “Jay” Harmon is the other lock and the back row includes Chris Turori, Devin Short, and Eagle Cam Dolan.

The other backs include centers JP Du Plessis, Anthony Salaber, and former Eagle and France professional Taku Ngwenya.

Reserve forwards include Gil Covey at hooker, Aaron Mitchell, and Maeletasi Toilolo at prop, Derrick Broussard at the back row, and Lance Lamprecht at lock. Reserve backs include Eagles Nick Boyer at scrumhalf and Ben Cima at flyhalf, center, or fullback. Rounding out the backs is Naima Fuala’au, who played for the Eagles 7s and is a wing or center.

Utah Warriors

Head Coach Alf Daniels had the team firing on all cylinders against the Wolf Pack Rugby last week. This week the team has its Major League Rugby debut.

The team has added Kurt Morath, the leading Tonga points scorer, at flyhalf and former BYU and USA Selects hooker Alex Vorster. David Tameilau, an Eagle back row, and a lock have also joined the team from France.

The team has been improving in the set pieces, but it is when the ball reaches the backs that they are creative in their attacks.

The front row includes Alex Tucci, Lote Tuipulota, and Eagle Angus MacLelland. Eagle Matt Jensen is paired with Kory Olsen at lock. The back row includes Kenny Scott, Lance Williams, and Saia Uhila.

In the backs, Joseph Nicholls has swapped the scrumhalf position with his brother Ben. Kurt Morath is a flyhalf and will link with former NFL fullback and captain, Paul Lasike. Jared Whippy moves to outside center from flyhalf and takes the position of brother Josh, who had a season-ending injury last week. The back three includes Fetu Vainikolo, who escaped sanction from a red card last week, at wing. Josh Anderson is the other wing and Tonata Lauti the fullback.

Forward reserves include Alex Vorster at hooker, Maika Hafoka and John Martinez at prop, and David Tamilau at the back row, or at lock. Backs reserves include AJ Tuineau at wing, Ben Nicholls at scrumhalf, Paki Afu at center and Don Pati at scrumhalf or fullback.

San Diego Legion & Utah Warriors Squads

San Diego Legion: 1 Sione Tu’ihalamaka, 2 Pat Blair, 3 Tony Purpura, 4 Siaosi Mahoni, 5 Jay Harmon, 6 Chris Turori, 7 Devin Short, 8 Cam Dolan, 9 Nate Augspurger (capt.), 10 Tadhg Leader, 11 Ryan Matyas, 12 JP du Plessis, 13 Anthony Salaber, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 15 Dylan Audsley 16 Gil Covey, 17 Aaron Mitchell, 18 Tasi Toilolo, 19 Derrick Broussard, 20 Lance Lamprecht, 21 Nick Boyer, 22 Ben Cima, 23 Naima Fuala’au + Head Coach Rob Hoadley

Utah Warriors: 1 Alex Tucci, 2 Lote Tu’ipulotu, 3 Angus MacLellan, 4 Matt Jensen, 5 Kory Olsen, 6 Kenny Scott, 7 Lance Williams, 8 Saia Uhila, 9 Joseph Nicholls, 10 Kurt Morath, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 12 Paul Lasike (capt.), 13 Jared Whippy, 14 Josh Anderson, 15 Tonata Lauti 16 Alex Vorster, 17 Maika Hafoka, 18 John Martinez, 19 David Tameilau, 20 AJ Tu’ineau, 21 Ben Nicholls, 22 Paki Afu, 23 Don Pati + Head Coach Alf Daniels

San Diego Legion Pre-season Record (1-1)

San Diego Legion 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule

  • April 22 at Seattle Seawolves (L 39-23) Preview Network: Cox/AT&T
  • April 29 vs. Utah Warriors Preview 4 pm PDT Network: Cox/AT&T
  • May 4 vs. Houston SaberCats 5:30 pm PDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • May 13 at Glendale Raptors 5 pm PDT Network: Cox/AT&T
  • May 26 at Austin Elite 6 pm PDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)
  • June 9 at New Orleans Gold 1 pm PDT Network: COX
  • June 17 vs. Austin Elite 5 pm PDT Network: Cox/AT&T
  • June 23  vs. Glendale Raptors 7 pm PDT
  • June 30 MLR Semi-Finals at Glendale Sat, 5-10 pm PDT Network: CBSSN
  • July 7 MLR Championship at San Diego 7-9:45 pm PDT Network: CBSSN (GAME OF THE WEEK)

Utah Warriors Pre-season

Utah Warriors 2018 Major League Rugby Season

  • April 29 at San Diego Legion Preview 5 pm Network: Cox/AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 5 vs Glendale Raptors 1:30 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • May 11 vs Austin Elite Rugby 7 pm MDT Network: CBSSN, ESPN+
  • May 20 at Seattle Seawolves 6:30 pm MDT Network: ROOT SPORTS, ESPN+
  • May 26 at Houston SaberCats 4 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 1 at Austin Elite Rugby 7 pm MDT Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
  • June 16 vs New Orleans Gold 2 pm MDT Network: CBSSN, ESPN+
  • June 23 vs Houston SaberCats 1 pm Network: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant