Austin Elite Rugby will play Rugby United New York at Toyota Field in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, March 30. Tickets are available and the kickoff is at 1 pm CDT (2 pm EDT). The match is the CBS Sports Network Game of the Week.
Austin Elite Rugby has been an improved team in recent weeks. They were on the brink of winning last week against NOLA Gold before losing on the final play and also played well against the Seattle Seawolves. RUNY comes into the match with a 6-1 record and they are in second place in Major League Rugby. The team hopes that the new venue will make a difference.
Austin Elite Rugby has coped with a rash of injuries and with the loss of players due to the Americans Rugby Championship for the first half of the season. Head Coach Alain Hyardet has maintained consistency in the starters with only two changes in the starters being made. Rikus Zwart continues his rotation with Kyle Breytenbach at flanker and JP Aquirre returns at outside center with Sione Fangaiuiha moving to the wing. Reece Czarnecki moves to the reserves and with Alex Faison-Donahoe out injured.
Mike Tolkin has made six changes in the starters with Mike Brown and Matt Wirken starting at hooker and at lock, respectively. Last week’s MLR Player of the Week, Dylan Fawsitt and Connor Wallace-Sims have the week off.
In the backs, Marcus Walsh, Harry Bennett gain their first start of the season at scrumhalf and flyhalf. Gavan D’Amore-Morrison returns at wing, and Seimou Smith makes his 2019 MLR debut at wing. Chris Mattina also moves from flyhalf to outside center.
In the reserves, Chris Sullivan returns to the matchday 23 at tighthead prop and Callum Mackintosh switches from tighthead prop to hooker.
Austin Elite Rugby opens their second home at Toyota Field in San Antonio and hopes that the fan support will follow and a new market will be enthusiastic. The team has played better-attacking rugby in recent weeks and could easily have had three wins on the season.
Expect Rugby United New York to have an edge in set pieces, but having changes in hookers will be tested early with lineout throws. RUNY plays expansive rugby and elects to score tries, so Austin Elite holds an edge in penalty goals. That trend is likely to continue with Austin Elite going for points early in the match from RUNY penalties. That is likely to come from tackles or from being offsides. Austin Elite commit similar penalties with the addition of some scrum infractions.
Austin Elite Rugby needs to maintain possession, have more line breaks, and to penetrate the RUNY defense with tactical kicking to have a chance to win. RUNY needs to continue to play expansive rugby and use tactical kicks to score from set pieces.
Squads with Player Article Links
Austin Elite Rugby: 1 LaRome White 2 Tiaan Erasmus 3 Juan Echeverria 4 Ben Mitchell (C) 5 Josh Larsen (VC) 6 Rikus Zwart 7 Moe Abdelmonam 8 Travis Larsen 9 Mickaël Romera 10 Rodrigo Sliva 11 Sione Fangaiuiha 12 Andres Vilaseca 13 JP Aguirre 14 Aidan McMullan 15 Soheyl Jaoudat 16 Dominique Bailey 17 Chris Schade 18 Brendan Rams 19 Dylan Pieterse 20 Kyle Breytenbach 21 Marcelo Torrealba 22 Doug Fraser 23 Reece Czarnecki + Head Coach Alain Hyardet
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Mike Brown 3 Paddy Ryan 4 Matt Wirken 5 Nate Brakeley (C) 6 John Quill 7 James Denise 8 Ross Deacon 9 Marcus Walsh10 Harry Bennett 11Gavan D’Amore Morrison 12 Mark O’Keeffe 13 Chris Mattina 14 Seimou Smith15 Ben Foden16 Callum Mackintosh17 Anthony Parry 18 Chris Sullivan 19 Trevor Cassidy 20 Matt Hughston 21 Mike Petri 22 Mike St. Claire 23 Luke Hume + Head Coach Mike Tolkin