Major League Rugby Championship: Glendale Raptors vs. Seattle Seawolves

Major League Rugby Championship

The Glendale Raptors will face the Seattle Seawolves for the inaugural Major League Rugby Championship on July 7 at 6 pm PT (9 pm ET) at Torero Stadium in San Diego. The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and tickets are still available.

To advance to the championship the first-place Glendale Raptors beat the Utah Warriors 34-21 in the Semi-Finals, while the second-place Seattle Seawolves beat the San Diego Legion 38-24.

The Raptors defeated the Seattle side twice in the regular season, the first in Seattle on April 19-14 and again in June in Glendale 33-11.

Glendale Raptors

Head Coach David Williams has made one change in his starters from the semi-finals with Peter Dahl replacing Dylan Fawsitt at flanker. Fawsitt moves to the reserves with Grigor Kerdikosvili and Nick Johnson on the squad.

Williams said that the Raptors slightly altered their training protocol in preparation for the match: “We have actually gone a bit lighter with our volume and increased our intensity.” He continued, saying that playing at sea level might give the Raptors an edge: “We love the advantage we have coming from altitude. The boys will love running around with big gulps of air in their lungs,” he said with a grin. Several of Glendale’s players have also recently returned from a sweep of the June test series as USA Eagles, scrum-half Davies among them. Questioned on how to translate that momentum into a championship win, Williams is complimentary but challenging: “The Eagles had three great games: against Russia, and especially Scotland, and then they hammered Canada. They bring that energy and confidence back into our training sessions. We’re rolling. We’re not ready to be finished with the season to be quite honest.” Not exactly fighting words, the Raptors coach does make clear that the Glendale team has more rugby to play before MLR’s first year comes to a close.

Shawn Davies said the Raptors have to allow themselves to implement what they’ve practiced: “A big thing for us is patience with ball in hand. We know we have to go through the phases, we know we have to win the physicality. If we do that, we’ll have a lot of success.” Williams again echoes his team captain: “If we don’t win the physicality in any game of rugby, we won’t be successful. Scrums and lineouts will be huge. Seattle prides themselves on their scrum, so if we can hold them there like we did in the first and second games against them this season, we will do well.”

Several Raptors were selected to the All-MLR team by selected members of the rugby media. Zach Fenoglio, Ben Landry, and Harley Davidson were selected to the first team, while Peter Dahl, Sam Figg, Shawn Davies, and Will Magie were selected to the second team.

Seattle Seawolves

The Seattle Seawolves played a spirited MLR semi-final match against the San Diego Legion winning 38-24. The scrum was outstanding and the line speed on defense, especially in the red zone, has been stellar all season. With that in mind, the team remains intact for the Finals against the Glendale Raptors.

The Raptors won both head-to-head matches against Seawolves. The first was very close and the second was played with both teams missing players due to international tests. The Raptors may have an edge in the reserves, so with the teams at full strength, expect a close final.

Several Seawolves were selected to the All-MLR team by selected members of the rugby media. Tim Metcher, Vili Toluta’u, Phil Mack, and Mat Turner were selected to the first team, while Olive Kilifi was selected to the second team.

Glendale Raptors & Seattle Seawolves Squads

Glendale Raptors: 1 Blake Rogers 2 Zach Fenoglio (C) 3 Kelepi Fifita 4 Dakota O’Neil 5 Ben Landry 6 Peter Dahl 7 John Quill 8 Sam Figg 9 Shaun Davies 10 Will Magie 11 Mika Kruse 12 Bryce Campbell 13 Chad London 14 Harley Davidson 15 Maximo de Achaval 16 Luke White 17 Nick Kwasniewski 18 Dylan Fawsitt 19 Connor Cook 20 Grigor Kerdikosvili 21 Mickey Bateman 22 Ata Malifa 23 Nick Johnson + Head Coach David Williams

Seattle Seawolves: 1 Olive Kilifi 2 Ray Barkwill 3 Tim Metcher 4 Taylor Krumrei 5 Cam Polson 6 Eric Duechle 7 Vili Toluta’u 8 Riekert Hattingh (VC) 9 Phil Mack 10 Peter Smith 11 Peter Tiberio 12 Shalom Suniula (C) 13 William Rasileka 14 Brock Staller 15 Mat Turner 16 Mike Sheperd 17 John Hayden 18 Kellen Gordon 19 Cole van Harn 20 Aladdin Schirmer 21 Andre Coquillard 22 Jeremy Misailegalu 23 Sequoyah Burke-Combs

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant