On Sunday, May 9, the Major League Rugby Eastern Conference leader, Rugby United New York hosts the Western Conference leader, LA Giltinis for the Champagne Cup at 1 pm at Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City, N.J. The match will be broadcast on MSG, Bally SportsNet SoCal, and on The Rugby Channel.
New York Rugby pundit Matt McCarthy (Rugby Wrap Up) and the former USA international & Rugby United New York scrumhalf and current RUNY Academy Head Coach, Mike Petri, will be in the broadcast booth for MSG.
Rugby United New York has a 4-2 record in a very competitive Eastern Conference where the point differential separates the top two teams with 19 points in the standings, while the third through fifth place teams have 16. Sixth place is not too far behind with 13.
A RUNY win could provide some separation, while a loss, could flip the team toward the bottom of the conference standings without securing bonus points.
The LA Giltinis has been the MLR leaders on offense, scoring over 40 points per match. They are the only undefeated team with a 6-0 record and have scored winning bonus points each week and have 30 points. The nearest Western Conference team is the Austin Gilgronis with 21, with the Utah Warriors close behind with 19.
Rugby United New York welcomed a new attack coach this week, with Marty Bourke, formerly with Bay of Plenty, jumping right in to prepare the team for the Giltinis. Unlike, the Giltinis, who have a number of coaches, New York now has two, with Marty Veale having the entire coaching responsibility with feedback from his player leadership group.
Rugby United New York Head Coach Marty Veale has made four changes in the starters with Dylan Fawsitt resuming the captain duties at hooker. Despite playing limited minutes as a reserve, Dylan scored within a couple of minutes after entering the match last week and was one of three RUNY players to be recognized on the week 7 1st MLR team. Nate Brakely and Hanco Germishuys also made the list.
Argentina international Jose Manuel Leguizamon joins the team and starts at No.8 with Evan Mintern omitted from the roster this week. Dual U.S./Argentina national, Joel Miranda, gains his second start of the season at right-wing (his debut was against Old Glory on the left-wing) with Troy Lockyear at fullback, as Luke Hume and Ben Foden are rested.
The reserves will have a 6/2 split between forwards and backs.
LA Giltinis Head Coach Darren Coleman has made five changes in the starters with Blake Rogers and Lindsey Stevens at loosehead prop and at hooker, respectively with JP Smith and Mahe Vailanu rested. Angus Cottrell, Adam Ashe, and Luke Carty move from the reserves at blindside flanker, No.8, and at flyhalf, respectively. Carty will also assume kicking duties with Matt Giteau out of the matchday roster.
There are also three changes in the reserves with Sean McNulty providing cover at hooker, Mafi Seanoa at loosehead prop, and former Iona College back, Watson Filikitonga at the center.
Rugby United New York plays an up-tempo game moving the ball wide quickly anytime they gain possession. This has caused gaps to open up and has created scoring opportunities. The team has one of the best scrummaging teams in the league and knows how to score from mauls after lineouts from close range. Dan Hollinshead has shown that he has the nerves of steel when kicking at goal. The leadership displayed by Andy Ellis, who is among the MLR try assist leaders, has been invaluable.
RUNY has a team whose physicality can wear another team down, and that continues with the reserves. The fans certainly hope that will be the case this Sunday with the team facing the formidable task of stopping the league’s leading offensive machine.
The LA Giltinis have three of the league’s top try scorers in DTH Van Der Merwe, Harrison Goddard, and Angus Cottrell, as well as in try assists from Christian Poidevin and Mahe Vailanu. Matt Giteau, who has been a field general and is the MLR conversions leader with 19, is out of the matchday roster, as is Mahe Vailanu.
For New York, a win would result in the team maintaining first place in the Eastern Conference and potentially create some distance in the standings. A loss for LA would not change their first-place position in the Western Conference.
Next Saturday, RUNY travels to face Austin Gilgronis, who are in second place in the Western Conference. Austin is the leading defensive team in the league, in terms of yielding the fewest points, and will present another strong test for New York.
The LA Giltinis will play the Western Conference third-place Utah Warriors, who are always dangerous on the attack, as well as presenting a physical challenge. The teams will play at SoFi Stadium, in the first MLR game ever played there.
Squads with Player Article Links
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Sak Taulafo 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Nick Civetta 6 Hanco Germishuys 7 Kyra Pryor 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón Evan Mintern 9 Andy Ellis (c) 10 Dan Hollinshead 11 Quinn Ngawati 12 Will Leonard 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14 Joel Miranda 15 Troy Lockyear 16 Wilton Rebolo 17 Anthony Parry 18 Samu Tawake 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Kyle Sumsion 21 Ben Bonasso 22 Conor McManus 23 Harry Bennett
LA Giltinis: 1 Blake Rogers 2 Lindsey Stevens 3 Charlie Abel 4 Dave Dennis (c) 5 Nathan Den Hoedt 6 Angus Cottrell 7 Christian Poidevin 8 Adam Ashe 9 Harrison Goddard 10 Luke Carty 11 DTH Van Der Merwe 12 Luke Burton 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper 14 John Ryberg 15 Glenn Bryce 16 Sean McNulty 17 Mafi Seanoa18 Frikkie de Beer 19 Corey Thomas 20 Langilangi Haupeakui 21 Cristian Rodriguez 22 Watson Filikitonga 23 Ryan James