Major League Rugby Previews, Recaps, & First XV
Major League Rugby completed week 4 of their regular season with the Glendale Raptors in first place with a 4-0 record and 19 points in the standings. The San Diego Legion went toe-to-toe with the Glendale Raptors this past week losing 31-27. They have a 2-2 record and are in third place with 11 points. All other teams have played 3 matches.
The Seattle Seawolves defeated the New Orleans Gold 31-29, spoiling NOLA Gold’s home opener. This gave the team a 2-1 record, moving them to second place with 11 points, with point differential the deciding factor. NOLA Gold’s record dropped to 1-2 and are in sixth place tied with the Houston SaberCats and Austin Elite Rugby with 7 points, with point differential separating the teams.
The Utah Warriors are in fourth place with 8 points and also have a 1-2 record. The team gained their first win on Friday defeating Austin Elite Rugby 41-22. View MLR Standings.
This week was a difficult week for this journalist to cover MLR. Spending some quality family time was a factor both Friday and on Mother’s Day. On Saturday traveling was an issue, as the club that I founded had matches followed by Hall of Fame inductions.
This impacted previews with some clubs releasing squads the day of the match. That is a concern in trying to write match previews. When the Super League Rugby was being held, teams needed to submit rosters by Thursday night or they were fined $1000. To effectively cover matches, squads should be available to at least the rugby media by either Thursday night or by Friday morning. For Thursday matches, information is needed the morning prior. Publication release times for articles could also be stipulated. Match previews include both teams involved. Major League Rugby is doing an excellent job in promoting the sport, but timely releases of rosters by individual teams would be an improvement.
Major League Rugby Previews, Recaps, & Camp
Recaps for this week are provided by either the teams or from other sources. On May 11, the Utah Warriors defeated Austin Elite Rugby 42-21 at home. KSL.com provided a recap of the match. On Saturday, May 12, NOLA Gold Rugby were defeated by the Seattle Seawolves 31-29, and on Sunday, May 13, the Glendale Raptors scored last to claim a 31-27 win over the San Diego Legion.
The Houston SaberCats had a bye week, however, the team was busy hosting a Rugby Skills Camp on May 12. Matt Trouville, Osea Kolinisua, Connor Murphy and others were coaches for Rugby Skills Camp for Youth (Ages 11-13), Junior Varsity & Varsity (High School) at Katy’s premier sports venue, Rhodes Stadium, in Katy, Texas.
Major League Rugby First XV, Player of the Week
MLR Release: Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
- Loosehead Prop, Blake Rogers (Glendale Raptors) – Blake’s performance against Botha demonstrated his improvements since the season began, but his defensive work rate was the key in his game that kept the Raptors within reach during the first half.
- Hooker, Pat Blair (San Diego Legion) – Pat continues to be in the right place at the right time to score. He helped stabilize the attacking platform for San Diego, helping them win nearly all of their restarts.
- Tighthead Prop, Dolph Botha (San Diego Legion) – Dolph’s form has improved week to week. He provided the right anchor for San Diego’s scrum which held parity with Glendale throughout the night while also scoring a try of his own.
- Left Lock, Matt Jensen (Utah Warriors) – Matt Jensen provided the significant drive for the Utah scrum throughout the night. Every time he was near the ball he made it count: in the lineout, with carries and tackles.
- Right Lock, Victor Comptat (Austin Elite) – Victor has stepped up into a starting role with Austin. His ability to positively affect lineouts (alongside Ben Mitchell) against Utah was tremendous.
- Blindside Flanker, Zach Fenoglio (Glendale Raptors) – Continuing to start at the blindside, he makes positive plays over the entire pitch. He scored the go-ahead try for the Raptors, sealing their victory late in the game against San Diego.
- Openside Flanker, Matt Hughston (NOLA Gold) – Following the loss of Sebastian Kalm, Matt knew his work rate needed to be higher against Seattle. He raised his performance with high tackle efficiency and offensive power, scoring a try in the second half.
- No 8., Sam Figg (Glendale Raptors) – Sam went toe to toe against Cam Dolan in almost every lineout, providing a positive outcome for Glendale on each. The successful lineouts for Glendale resulted in the positive meters gained throughout the match.
- Scrum-half, Nick Boyer (San Diego Legion) – Nick’s first start against Glendale at scrum-half displayed how dangerous of a weapon he is with his athleticism, executing quick carries around the ruck. His ruck management was superb, as he delivered the ball lightning-quick to fly-half Ben Cima or the next pod, maintaining positive momentum.
- Fly-half, Will Magie (Glendale Raptors) – Will continues to be in top form for his position. He was 100% with all of his shots on goal, leading the team with 11 points.
- Blindside Wing, Seth Halliman (Glendale Raptors) – Seth Halliman’s impact on the wing for the Raptors came with great footwork, balance and pace as he evaded tackles along the touchline to score the ‘Try of the Week’.
- Inside Center, Paul Lasike (Utah Warriors) – Paul’s physical performance on Friday night for the warriors was extremely efficient. He continues to be a talented runner and defender in the midfield. Every touch of the ball is a positive gain for his team, scoring in the first half for the Warriors.
- Outside Center, William Rasileka (Seattle) – William’s try, with an assist from Shalom Suniula in the second half, set the tone for the Seawolves at the 42nd minute against the Gold. This try allowed his team to settle down and go to work for the rest of the half to achieve their first away victory.
- Openside Wing, Josh Anderson (Utah Warriors) – Josh Anderson’s try was a bit sneaky, which required excellent support, running and vision as he towed the touch before touching the ball down for the try.
- Fullback, Dylan Audsley (San Diego Legion) – Another great week for Dylan on offense with ten points, coming from three conversions and two penalty kicks. However, it was his high tackle rate that kept San Diego in the game.
Player of Week: Scrum-Half, Marcus Walsh (Austin Elite) – Marcus’ performance was highlighted by a try in both halves, the first one coming off a ruck where he snuck into the try zone and the second off of a Ned Hodson chip kick. His ball speed and ruck management kept the Austin attack together when they held possession, but it was his defense that also kept the Elite in the game when he had a try-saving tackle.
Major League Rugby Week 5
On Saturday, May 19, NOLA Gold Rugby hosts the Houston SaberCats in the CBS Sports Network Game of the Week. The match will be at 4 pm ET. On Sunday, May 20 the Seattle Seawolves host the Utah Warriors at 8:30 pm ET. The match may be viewed on Root Sports locally, ESPN+ nationally and on the MLR Facebook page internationally.