Austin Elite Rugby vs Utah Warriors: 2019 MLR Preview

Austin Elite Rugby hosts the Utah Warriors on Friday, February 1 at 7 pm CT at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. Tickets are available for the match. For those who can’t attend,  the match is being broadcast live on ESPN+ and also on Austin Elite Rugby Facebook Watch for both US and international fans to stream, for free!

The Utah Warriors announced their broadcast partners for the 2019 MLR season. All games will be available locally via streaming broadcast partnership with and starting with tonight’s match at Austin.

Last week Austin Elite Rugby opened their 2019 season with a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to the Houston SaberCats. The Utah Warriors had a bye last week and open their season on Friday.

Both teams are missing National team players for the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship which begins Saturday. The ARC will take place for the next two weeks, have a bye week and follow with three consecutive matches. This places stress on MLR teams and requires both advance plannings with team signings, as well as with adding players based on individual week needs.

Austin Elite Rugby lost three players to National team commitments from last week’s match against the SaberCats. They also are missing three other players.

The team has made five changes in the starting XV along with four positional changes. Chris Schade switches from Hooker to Loosehead prop with Tiaan Erasmus at hooker. Mason Pederson also enters as tighthead prop. Rikus Zwart, who played flanker last week, is paired with Ben Michell the team’s captain at lock. Dom Bailey joins the starters at flanker, with Kyle Breytenbach and Travis Larsen maintaining their positions.

In the backs, Marcelo Torrealba moves from the reserves to start with Mickael Romera to the reserves. Soheyl Jaoudat will start at fullback. Timothee Guillimin will pair with Torrealba, with Sione Fangaiuha moving from outside center to inside, and Zinzan Elan-Puttick moving from fullback to outside center. Both Alex Faison-Donahoe and Peni Ratu Tagive retain their positions at wing.

In the reserves, last year’s captain and this year’s team manager and skills coach, Andrew Suniula, makes his first appearance of the season at center as a player. That also applies to long-time Austin Huns lock/back row Craig Welborn. Other reserves include Brendan Rams at hooker, Larome White and Simon Courcoul at prop, Dylan Pieterse at lock/flanker, Michael Romera at scrumhalf, and Reece Czarnecki at wing.

The Utah Warriors have an international array of players in the front row, with South African Franco Van den Berg at loosehead prop, New Zealander Logan Daniels at hooker, and USA National Team Eagle Angus Maclellan at prop. Saia Uhila and Eagle Matt Jensen are the locks. The back row includes the former University of Hawaii football star Lance Williams and New Zealand flanker Ara Elkington. Eagle John Cullen rounds out the forwards at No.8.

The halfbacks have Ian Luciano from Australia pairing with James Semple from New Zealand. The centers have Captain Tim O’Malley from New Zealand pairing with speedster Jeremy Misailegalu, a tough twister for the captain and many others to say. Tonga Rugby World Cup 7s player Fetu’u Vainikola is at wing along with the leading MLR 2018 scorer Tonata Lauti. Rounding out the backs is Johnny Ika, who played with Hawkes Bay’sMitre Cup team.

The reserves are also very experienced with the USA Selects hooker Alex Vorster, prop Alex Tucci and Huluhola Moungaloa, who played College football/rugby in Ireland and for the USA Eagles, respectively. A surprise addition to the team is Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga, who played flanker/lock for the Fiji U20s, Fiji Warriors, Sunnybank (Aus), Mid Canterbury (NZ), Nadi RU rep team, and recently for the Dallas Harlequins. Kenny Scott rounds out the forward reserves at the back row.

Backs reserves include Joseph Nicholls from Zimbabwe at scrumhalf, Iniki Fa’amausili at center/fullback and Josh Anderson at wing.

Austin Elite Rugby & Utah Warriors Squads + Player Article Links

Austin Elite Rugby: 1 Chris Schade 2 Tiaan Strauss Erasmus 3 Mason Pedersen 4 Ben Mitchell (C) 5 Rikus Zwart 6 Kyle BreytenbachDominique Bailey 8 Travis Larsen 9 Marcelo Torrealba 10 Timothée Guillimin 11 Alex Faison Donahoe 12 Sione Fangaiuiha13: Zinzan Elan-Puttick (VC) 14 Peni Tagive 15 Soheyl Jaoudat 16 Brendan Rams 17 LaRome White 18 Dylan Pieterse 19  Craig Welborn 20 Mickaël Romera 21 Reece Czarnecki 22 Andrew Suniula 23  + Head Coach Alain Hyardet

Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van den Berg 2 Logan Daniels 3 Angus Maclellan 4 Saia Uhila 5 Matt Jensen 6 Lance Williams 7 Ara Elkington 8 John Cullen (VC) 9 Ian Luciano 10 James Semple 11 Fetu’u Vanikolo 12 Tim O’Malley (C) 13 Jeremy Misailegalu 14 Tonata Lauti 15 Johnny Ika 16 Alex Vorster 17 Alex Tucci18 Huluhola Moungaloa 19 Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga 20 Kenny Scott 21 Joseph Nicholls 22 Iniki Fa’amausili 23 Josh Anderson + Head Coach Alf Daniels

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant