Match Preview: Rugby United New York vs Rugby ATL

Rugby United New York hosts Rugby ATL at Bolson Stadium on St. John’s University on Sunday, June 13 at 2 pm in a battle between the MLR Eastern Conference top two teams. For those who can’t attend, the match will be broadcast on MSG and streamed on The Rugby Network. For tickets, click here!  All spectators MUST bring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, either a hard copy or a photo, to gain admittance to the match.

Rugby ATL tops the Eastern Conference with an 8-3 record and 39 points, with Rugby United New York second with a 7-3 record and 34 points. New England and NOLA Gold follow with 30 points, Old Glory 26, and Toronto 23.

Rugby United New York defeated Rugby ATL 27-17 in Marietta, Georgia on April 11th.and is looking to repeat in New York. Rugby ATL has strengthened their team since then with the additions of South Africans Wikus Gronewald (tighthead prop), Marko Janse Van Rensburg (hooker), Adriaan Carelse (FH/FB), Fijian tighthead prop, Manasa Saulo, and former Lansdowne and Rugby United New York center, Mark O’Keeffe. They also just announced the return of their captain, center Ryan Nell.

Rugby United New York has relied on its existing roster for its players, with some local talented additions in anticipation for the internationals. The exception was the addition of Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who was injured in his first match in the victory over LA. It is hoped that his recovery goes smoothly!

Prior to the match, Old Blue will face NYAC in a Big Apple Cup match at 11:30 am. Old Blue is 4-1 and NYAC is 3-2 in Big Apple Cup play. Old Blue has published their roster, and when the NYAC roster becomes available, it will be added to the article.

Rugby United New York

New York enters the match after a bye week and a two-match winning streak after a 29-19 win over New England and a 46-10 road win over Old Glory DC. The team has also won four of the last five matches and is used to getting down and dirty in the trenches.

Rugby United New York is one of the best scrummaging teams in the league, has improved in lineouts won, and is strong at the breakdown. They play at a fast pace and have excellent line speed on defense, as well. They come into the match as a team that is in sync with each other and are posed to meet the challenge of playing a dominant defensive Rugby ATL team.

The 2019 team came within a bounce of the ball of making the MLR Shield Final in 2019, and the team is stronger in 2021. Many pundits see New York and the Ratlers meeting again in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Team captain Dylan Fawsitt has a nose for in-goal and has 7 tries this season, with 23 in his MLR career. Many come after driving mauls, which has proven to be hard for opposition teams to stop.

Head Coach Marty Veale has made two changes in the starters from the win against Old Glory two weeks ago. Samu Tawake starts at tighthead prop with Sak Taulafo being rested. Kyle Sumsion returns from CRC Coaching duties with Army West Point, and gets his first start of the season at blindside flanker, shifting Hanco Germishuys to the reserves.

Reserve positions shifts have Rob Irimescu at hooker instead of the back row, and Wilton Rebolo at tighthead prop instead of at loosehead. All that is subject to change depending on match tactics with Rebolo capable of playing anywhere in the front row.

Both Nick Civetta and Dan Hollinshead are recovering from injuries.

The last 20 minutes should decide the match and New York has made adjustments accordingly.

Rugby ATL

Since their loss to Rugby United New York and a narrow one to Austin Gilgronis in April, the team has won six consecutive matches, including a victory over the LA Gilgtinis. Many rugby pundits have jumped on the Ratlers bandwagon, but pundit Matt McCarthy predicts a Rugby United New York vs San Diego Legion MLR Shield Final.

Rugby ATL will take issue with Matt, and the team has proven to be considered a playoff contender. What did Dan Power and Bryan Ray say about who is going to win this week? Those comments were deemed inappropriate for the New York audience.

The Eastern Conference has been one where any team is capable of beating another. Teams will not be taken lightly for the remaining six weeks of the regular season.

General Manager/Head Coach Scott Lawrence has made four changes in the starters and a number of positional changes. Marko Janse Van Rensburg, Conor Keys, Ross Deacon, and Ryan Rees shift from the reserves to starting roles at hooker, lock, blindside flanker, and scrumhalf, respectively. Mark O’Keeffe moves to left-wing from outside center, shifting captain Rory Van Vugt to fullback, and Te Rangatira from fullback to outside center.

Reserve changes have Alex Maughan returning to the roster at hooker, and Life Men’s Rugby wing/fullback Sam Cowley joining the roster for the first time.

Although Ryan Nell was activated 48 hours prior to the match, he was not included on the roster, unless there is a last-minute change based on how he responds in the warmups. Canadian international Matt Heaton and Rowan Gouws were also not on the roster.

Expect Marno Redelinghuys to be on fire after he enters the match. He is a force in the lineouts and around the pitch. The reserve selection appears to be following a chess match. The side is capable of continuing the fast pace, yet something is saved if the teams meet again in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Photo: Rugby ATL

Squads with Player Article Links

Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Evan Mintern 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 Ben Bonasso 8 Kyra Pryor 9 Andy Ellis (c) 10 Harry Bennett 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Quinn Ngawati 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14  Chris Mattina 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 Anthony Parry 18 Wilton Rebolo 19 Charlie Hewitt  20 Hanco Germishuys 21 Conor McManus 22 Will Leonard 23 Joel Miranda

Rugby ATL: 1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Makko Janse Van Rensburg 3 Wikus Groenewald Johan Momsen 5 Conor Keys 6 Connor Cook 7 Ross Deacon 8 Jason Damm 9 Ryan Rees 10 Adriaan Carelse 11 Mark O’Keeffe 12 Bautista Ezcurra 13 Te Rangatira Waitokia 14  Jeremy Misailegalu 15 Rory Van Vugt (C)16 Alex Maughan17 Jonas Petrakopoulos 18 Manasa Saulo 19 Marno Redinghuys 20 Vili Helu 21 Robbie Petzer 22 Sam Cowley 23 Duncan van Schalkwyk

Remaining MLR Eastern Conference Schedule

It is crunch time with only 5 matches remaining for Rugby ATL and 6 for New York. With only two playoff spots up for grabs, the winner of this match moves closer to securing a playoff spot, while there will be more pressure on the loser in the remaining matches.

Rugby United New York’s remaining schedule includes this Sunday’s match against Rugby ATL, Utah Warriors (H-June 19), Toronto Arrows (A-June 27), New England (A-July3), Houston (H-July10), and NOLA Gold (H-July17).

Rugby ATL’s remaining matches include this Sunday’s match against Rugby United New York, Houston (H-June 19), Old Glory (H-June26), Bye (July 3/4), Utah Warriors (A-July 10), and New England (A-July 18).

New England faces Seattle (H-June 13), NOLA Gold (H-June 26), RUNY (H-July 3), Toronto (A-July 11), and Rugby ATL (H-July 18).

NOLA Gold has its remaining 5 matches on the road. They face a critical test against Old Glory on June 12 with the winner remaining in playoff contention. Matches follow against Toronto (June 19), New England (June 26), LA (July 4), Seattle (July 11), and RUNY (July 17).

Old Glory DC schedule includes NOLA Gold (H-June 12), Bye (June 19/20), Rugby ATL (A-June 26), Toronto (A-July 4), San Diego (H-July 10), and Austin (H-July 17).

Toronto finishes their season with matches against Austin (A-June 12), NOLA Gold (H-June 19), RUNY (H-June 27), Old Glory (H-July 4), and conclude their season with New England (H-July 11).

International Tests & impact on the MLR Eastern Conference

Looking at the schedule, Rugby ATL appears to have the inside track to the playoffs, and only plays one match during the international period of the USA and Canada on July 10. They have Chance Wenglewski and Ryan Rees on the USA squad. Matt Heaton and Conor Keys are potential picks for Canada.

For Rugby United New York, Its challenge will be to win the next three matches against Rugby ATL, Utah Warriors, and the Toronto Arrows before losing players for USA and Canada internationals the first two weeks in July. They will play New England and Houston during that period, before completing the regular season against NOLA Gold. New York has had a strong defense and their attack has been potent in recent weeks.

New York’s Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, and Hanco Germishuys were selected for the USA National Team for the July tests, while Dylan Fawsitt was on the extended roster. Other RUNY players included in internationals are Wilton Rebolo for Brazil, with Quinn Ngawati and Samu Tawake in contention for selection for Canada and Fiji, respectively.

Brazil’s National Team plays June 26 against Paraguay with the winner playing against the winner of Chile/Colombia on July 11. It is unclear when Rebolo will depart. Samu Tawake is also in the player pool for Fiji, which has matches against New Zealand on July 10 & 17. His inclusion on the squad will add to the pressure of losing a number of forwards for international selection.

NOLA Gold Cam Dolan and Andrew Guerra were selected to the USA team. Eric Howard, Kyle Baillie, and Lachlan Kratz are part of the extended 40 men Canada squad for July. Nikola Bursic plays for Chile on July 3 against Colombia with the winner advancing to the 2023 RWC South American Qualifier on July 11 against the winner of Brazil and Paraguay. They also will likely lose Ignacio Dotti for Uruguay.

New England loses the least players in the MLR for the internationals. Its captain Josh Larsen is part of Canada’s 40-man extended roster.

Old Glory’s Mikey Sosene-Feagai, Jamason Fa’anana-Schulte, and Mke Dabulas were named to the USA team and Doug Fraser to the 40-man squad for Canada.

The Toronto Arrows are the hardest hit for the internationals with Cole Keith, Andrew Quattrin, Tyler Rowland, Lucas Rumball, Mason Flesch, Paul Ciulini, Siaki Vikilani, Ross Braude, Will Kelly, Spencer Jones, Guiseppe du Toit, Ben LeSage, and Patrick Parfrey part of Rugby Canada’s 40 -man July internationals extended squad. Manuel Diana, Gastón Mieres, and Leandro Leivas could also miss time while playing for Uruguay.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant