Rugby United New York Meets Utah Warriors in Battle of Playoff Contenders

Rugby United New York hosts the Utah Warriors on June 19 at 2:30 pm at Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. Get your tickets now before they sell out! For those who can’t attend, the match is being broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network and internationally on The Rugby Network.

Rugby United New York enters the match 8-3 with a three-game winning streak and after a season sweep of current Eastern Conference first-place Rugby ATL. The team is in second place, two points behind with a game in hand.

New York was named the team of the week, had the try of the week, and had three players on the MLR Weekly 1st XV (Dylan Fawsitt, Nate Brakeley, and Harry Bennett)

The Utah Warriors are also in second place to the LA Giltinis with a 7-5 record and extended their winning streak to three games with a comeback win over San Diego Legion in the final minute of the match. Utah’s Tyler Fisher was selected for the MLR Weekly 1st Team.

Look for a physical fast-paced match and with temperatures in the high 80s, tactical substitutions will be critical. The New York side’s defense has gone toe-to-toe with the best teams in the league and their attack has improved dramatically over the season.

The reserves have also proven capable of keeping up the pace when they enter the match. This will be especially important this Saturday with Utah’s ability to counterattack and their four comeback wins during the season.

Both teams need the win to keep pace for the playoffs, especially with the international tests the first two weeks in July.

Rugby United New York has Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, and Hanco Germishuys on the USA Team, Quinn Ngawati playing for Canada, and Wilton Rebolo for Brazil.

The Utah Warriors have Paul Mullen (tighthead prop), Michael Baska (scrumhalf), Mika Kruse (center/wing), and Mike Te’o (wing) on the USA team, and Fraser Hurst on Rugby Canada.

Rugby United New York

Rugby United New York will miss several players to injuries for the match with Kara Pryor and Andy Ellis joining Dan Hollinshead and Nick Civetta on the injury list. Civetta will likely return next week against Toronto before the internationals, with Pryor and Ellis having short-term injuries. Hollinshead’s status is unknown, but he is expected to return before the end of the season.

Head Coach Marty Veale has made three changes in the starters from last week’s win over Rugby ATL. Charlie Hewitt, Conor McManus, and Will Leonard start at lock, scrumhalf, and the outside center, respectively. Evan Mintern moves from lock to No.8.

The reserves have a 4/4 split with Anthony Parry rested, and Sak Taulafo returning to the roster at loosehead prop instead of his normal tighthead position.  Connor Buckley returns to the roster for the first time since week two of the season, and the fiery wing, Luke Hume, returns as well.

With the internationals on the horizon, Brazil’s loosehead prop Wilton Rebolo and USA flanker Hanco Germishuys are in the reserves but are ready to contribute when called upon. They are joined by Rob Irimescu, who provides coverage at hooker or in the back row, Fa’asiu Fuatai at the center (former All Blacks Sevens), with Luke Hume (USA 20 caps) and Joel Miranda in the back three.

New York will need to score early and often to make the Utah Warriors bring in the reserves early with six of their starters last week looking to make an impact when they enter the match.

Utah Warriors

Interim Head Coach Shawn Pittman has made nine changes in the starters from last week’s comeback win over San Diego Legion.

Forwards changes include Olive Kilifi, Sama Malolo, Saia Uhila, Mike Gieselman, and Lance Williams at loosehead prop, hooker, lock, openside flanker, and No.8, respectively.

Backs changes include Canadian international scrumhalf Fraser Hurst pairing with Namibian flyhalf Cliven Loubser, Derek Ellingson at inside center, and James Vaifale on the left-wing. Hagen Schulte slides from flyhalf to fullback and Josh Whippy moves to the right-wing.

In the reserves, Danny Christensen covers at scrumhalf. Rested are Michael Baska, Bailey Wilson, and Chad Gough.

The Warriors have seasoned front-row replacements in South African loosehead prop Franco Van den Berg, Fiji international Vermalua Vugakoto at hooker, and Angus MacLellan at tighthead prop. Aston Fortuin, a lock, has played with the Super Rugby Blue Bulls and the former PRO 14, Southern Kings. South African No 8, Jurie Van Vuuren, has played Super Rugby, Currie Cup, and in Rugby Challenge. Current USA international center/wing, Mika Kruse, and fullback/wing, Mike Te’o, will look to slice through the opposition from any point on the pitch.

With four comeback wins already, the Warriors appear to have bargained that the match will be decided in the final minutes and have made apparent adjustments to try to pierce New York’s defense against tiring starters or the reserves.


The match is a key inter-conference one with both teams currently in second place. New York needs a win to keep pace with Rugby ATL with NOLA Gold and the idle Free Jacks, who are just behind for the two playoff spots.

The Utah Warriors are trying to hold off Austin Gilgronis and hope that the Giltinis likely knock San Diego out of contention for the playoffs this week.

After this week’s match against RUNY, Utah travels to Houston (June 26), has a bye for the USA/Canadian internationals (Jule3/4), hosts Rugby ATL (July 10), and finishes the regular season against the LA Giltinis at home on July 17. Three of those matches are against playoff contenders.

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

Both teams will miss five players during the World Rugby internationals, so there is everything to play for!

Squads with Player Article Links

Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt (c)3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Charlie Hewitt  6 Kyle Sumsion 7 Ben BonassoEvan MinternConor McManus 10 Harry Bennett 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Quinn Ngawati 13 Will Leonard 14  Chris Mattina 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 Sak Taulafo 18 Wilton Rebolo 19 Hanco Germishuys 20 Connor Buckley 21 Fa’asiu Fuatai 22 Luke Hume 23 Joel Miranda

Utah Warriors: 1Olive Kilifi 2 Sama Malolo 3 Paul Mullen 4 Saia Uhila  5 Matt JensenThomas Tu’avao 7 Mike Gieselman Lance Williams 9 Fraser Hurst 10 Cliven Loubser 11 James Vaifale12 Derek Ellingson  13 Tyler Fisher14 Josh Whippy 15 Hagen Schulte  16 Veremalua Vugakoto 17 Franco van den Berg 18 Angus Maclellan 19 Aston Fortuin 20 Jurie Van Vuuren 21 Danny Christensen 22 Mika Kruse 23 Mike Te’o

Remaining MLR Eastern Conference Schedule

The Eastern Conference will likely come down to the final weeks before it is known which two teams will be playoff-bound. Rugby ATL and Rugby New York are currently in a position to make the playoffs, but the New  England Free Jacks and NOLA Gold are threats. Old Glory DC and Toronto have not been eliminated, but are likely in the spoiler role at this point.

Rugby United New York’s remaining schedule includes 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 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 NOLA Gold (H-June 26), RUNY (H-July 3), Toronto (A-July 11), and Rugby ATL (H-July 18).

NOLA Gold has road matches that follow against Toronto (June 19), New England (June 26), LA (July 4), Seattle (July 11), and RUNY (July 17).

Old Glory DC schedule includes Rugby ATL (A-June 26) after a bye week (June 19/20), 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).

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant