The undefeated 4-0 Major League Rugby Western Conference leaders, San Diego Legion hosts the Eastern Conference second-place 3-1 Rugby United New York in a showdown of two of the top teams in the league.
The match will take place at Torero Stadium on Sunday, March 8 with the kickoff is at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT). A national stream is available on ESPN+, with Fox 5 San Diego broadcasting locally. It is also been shown locally on Cox, AT&T, Spectrum Cable: 5, as well as on Dish Cable & DIRECTV: 69. International fans may watch on Major League Rugby Facebook Live.
San Diego Legion
Rob Hoadley has made four changes in the starters for the match against Rugby United New York. Two are in the front row with Jamie Dever starting at loosehead prop and Dean Muir returning at hooker.
In the back, Dylan Audsley moves from wing to inside center and will pair with Ryan Matyas, who was in a reserve role last week. Tira Patterson enters at the wing.
Both Ma’a Nonu and JP Plesssis received knocks in last week’s match against NOLA Gold and are not in the matchday 23. Nonu was selected in the week 4 first team MLR side along with No. 8 Keni Nasoqeqe.
San Diego will look to play expansive rugby, yet take the points when inside RUNY territory. Joe Pietersen is one of the most accurate kickers in the league and his boot could be the difference if the Roosters have infractions inside their half.
Look for a defensive match with the score in the high teens to low twenties.
Rugby United New York
RUNY Head Coach Greg McWilliams has made three changes in the starters with Matt Wirken in for Charlie Hewitt at lock, Marcus Walsh at scrum-half for Mike Petri, and Mark O’Keeffe for Quintin Pradere at the wing.
There are also two changes in the reserves with Kyle Sumsion being available after missing a week due to coaching responsibilities with Army West Point Rugby. Mike St. Claire could also make his regular-season debut as a wing or center after playing for the Jamaica Sevens National Team at the World Rugby Challenger competition in South America.
The Roosters are a scrappy team that take pride in their defense and is difficult to stop from close range lineouts with their outstanding maul.
Last week Hanco Germishuys earned 1st Team MLR Week 4 honors in his first appearance with the team. Nate Brakeley continued on the selection for his third week in a row. The week prior, James Rochford, Dylan Fawsitt, and Mathieu Bastareaud also were honored.
Last season, the Roosters beat the Legion in San Diego in a regular-season match and I expect the match to be a close one this year too.
Greg McWilliams has opened up the offense for the players to be more creative and the back three should see plenty of action in the attack and on defense. Chris Mattina is playing a complementary role at inside center this season to Cathal Marsh after playing flyhalf, fullback, either center and right-wing last year.
The forwards are playing as a solid unit in the set-pieces and should perform well against the Legion. Joe Pietersen returned for the Legion, this year at fullback and his boot will keep the Roosters under pressure all day. The Roosters will need a strong counterattack and to minimize infractions and handling errors on the day.
After an opening week loss, the Roosters have since won three consecutive matches. They did this despite injuries and with several players who have not arrived due to visa clearance issues.
San Diego Legion vs Rugby United New York Squads with Player Article Links
San Diego Legion: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Dean Muir 3 Paul Mullen 4 Ben Mitchell 5 Josh Furno 6 Jasa Veremalua 7 Psalm Wooching 8 Keni Nasoqeqe 9 Devereaux Ferris10 Luke Burton 11 Tira Patterson 12 Dylan Audsley 13 Ryan Matyas14 Save Totovosau 15 Joe Pietersen 16 Peter Malcolm 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Chris Turori 21 Devin Short 22 Tai Enosa 23 Josh Thiel
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Paddy Ryan 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Matt Wirken 6 Hanco Germishuys 7 James Denise 8 Mathieu Bastareaud 9 Marcus Walsh10 Cathal Marsh 11Connor Wallace-Sims 12 Chris Mattina 13 Will Leonard14 Mark O’Keeffe 15 Ben Foden16 Mike Brown 17 Anthony Parry 18 Kirkland Hamilton 19 Robert Irimescu 20 Kyle Sumsion 21 Mike Petri 22 Harry Bennett 23 Mike St. Claire