The Toronto Arrows lost 31-24 to Rugby United New York on Saturday, June 26 at Life University’s Lupo Family Field. This was the first match of a Major League Rugby doubleheader with Rugby ATL beating Old Glory DC 32-12.
The MLR Eastern Conference playoff race is likely down to three teams, Rugby ATL (10-5, 51 points), Rugby United New York (9-4, 46 points), and NOLA Gold (8-4-1, 42 points). New England (7-6, 34 pts), Old Glory (4-8-1, 27 pts), and Toronto Arrows (4-10, 25 pts) follow.
Remaining MLR Eastern Conference Schedule
Only three weeks are remaining in the Major League Rugby regular season and Rugby ATL, Rugby United New York, NOLA Gold, and the New England Free Jacks are the only Eastern Conference teams in contention for the playoffs.
Rugby ATL’s schedule gives the team the clearest path to the playoffs. They have a bye (July 3/4), while the USA and Canadian internationals are held before facing the Utah Warriors (A-July 10), and New England (A-July 18).
Rugby United New York’s remaining schedule includes New England (A-July3), Houston (H-July10), and NOLA Gold (H-July17).
NOLA Gold has road matches that follow against LA (July 4), Seattle (July 11), and RUNY (July 17).
New England faces RUNY (H-July 3), Toronto (A-July 11), and Rugby ATL (H-July 18).
Old Glory DC schedule does not impact the Eastern Conference playoffs, but they could play a spoiler role in the Western Conference in their last match against Austin. They play Toronto (A-July 4), San Diego (H-July 10), and Austin (H-July 17).
Toronto could play a spoiler role against New England, but the Free Jacks would need to win their remaining matches and need help from other teams. Toronto has two remaining matches against Old Glory (H-July 4) and concludes their season with New England (H-July 11).
The Toronto Arrows Will Kelly slotted a penalty goal after New York was penalized for not rolling away at the breakdown.
Rugby United New York answered back following a lineout gathered by Nick Civetta with Hanco Germishuys scoring from a driving maul, 3-5. Harry Bennett’s conversion attempt pushed wide right.
The Arrows capitalized on a NY offload that went to the ground with Tayler Adams streaking down the left wide channel and offloading to Joaquin Tuculet for a try, which was converted by Will Kelly to lead 10-5.
The ensuing restart was gathered by the Arrows with Jason Higgins clearing. Fasi Fuatai was stopped in contact and the ball was recycled before Harry Bennett chipped ahead with Apensia Cakabalavu apparently grounding in the left corner. After quickly consulting with an Assistant Referee, Mike Lash then awarded the try. Bennett pulled the extras wide left, 10-10.
The try proved to be a controversial one as a television replay shows a knock-on when grounding. The referee’s decision was final, as MLR is not employing a TMO. It appears that karma was in play as when Toronto played New York in Jersey City, Mike Sheppard blocked a kick and scored, which was also knocked on, but was ruled a try.
A New York lineout attack from just inside Toronto’s 22-meters, had Hanco Germishuys going into contact. The ball went wide right to Quinn Ngawati and inside to Ben Foden for a try, which was converted by Harry Bennett, 10-17.
The ensuing restart went to Hanco Germishuys behind the team’s 22-meters and an offload by Samu Tawake to Ben Bonasso, had the blindside flanker motoring the rest of the way, while splitting defenders for the bonus point try under the posts, 10-24.
Toronto answered back in the 43rd minute with Mike Sheppard scoring from a maul. Kelly slotted the extras with a score, 17-24 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, Rugby United New York struck first from a lineout with Hanco Germishuys getting a brace from a driving maul. Bennett then slotted the conversion, 17-31.
The Arrows would get their own bonus point try from a lineout with Joaquin Tuculet offloading to Mitch Richardson for a try, with Kelly adding the extras, 24-31.
The match was far from being decided with 19 minutes left. The Arrows placed New York under pressure to defend their goal line and Joe Tomlinson knocked the ball on before crossing in-goal. Following a New York scrum, Chris Mattina relieved some pressure with a kick to touch.
Late in the match, Adrian Wadden charged down a Chris Mattina attempted clearance kick, blocking the kick with the ball exiting the dead ball line before he could ground. This resulted in a 22-meter drop.
A New York chip ahead and a Toronto knock-on in the final minute gave New York a scrum inside the Arrows’ 22-meters. Kyle Sumsion powered ahead and Conor McManus kicked into touch for the 31-24 New York win.
New York’s Hanco Germishuys earned Man of the Match honors. Kolby Faust also gained honors as the youngest player to play in an MLR match at 19 years, 1 month, and 26 days, breaking the previous record of Glendale Raptors Jake Christmann of 19 years, 3 months, and 25 days, according to Byran Ray, Americans Rugby News.
The next two weeks will see both the USA and Canada involved in international tests. Brazil beat Paraguay 29-0 yesterday and awaits the winner next week between Chile and Colombia. That match will be played on July 11. The winner of the later match will face Uruguay in a two-match qualifier to determine the South American winner, which will face the winner of the September USA vs Canada September series in October. Meanwhile, Uruguay has two tune-up matches against Argentina.
Nine Arrows have been named to Rugby Canada’s 30-man roster for the national program’s upcoming July tour to Wales and England. They include scrum-half Ross Braude, center Spencer Jones, prop Cole Keith, fly-half Will Kelly, center Ben LeSage, utility back Pat Parfrey, hooker Andrew Quattrin, prop Tyler Rowland, and flanker Lucas Rumball. In addition, No. 8 Manual Diana, and wings Gaston Mieres and Leandro Leivas have joined Uruguay for the internationals.
Rugby United New York will have five players involved internationals with locks Nate Brakeley and Nick Civetta, as well as back-row Hanco Germishuys playing for the USA, Quinn Ngawati for Canada, and Wilton Rebolo for Brazil.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Rugby United New York: 1 Sak Taulafo 2 Wilton Rebolo 3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley (c) 5 Nick Civetta 6 Ben Bonasso 7 Hanco Germishuys 8 Evan Mintern 9 Conor McManus 10 Harry Bennett 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Will Leonard 13 Fa’asiu Fuatai 14 Quinn Ngawati 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 Anthony Parry 18 Kirk Hamilton 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Kyle Sumsion 21Connor Buckley 22 Chris Mattina 23 Troy Lockyear
Toronto Arrows: 1 Rob Brouwer 2 Jack McRogers 3 Tyler Rowland 4 Adrian Wadden 5 Mike Sheppard 6 Mason Flesch 7 Tomas de la Vega 8 Ronan Foley 9 Jason Higgins 10 Will Kelly 11 Johnny Sheridan 12 Guiseppe du Toit (c) 13 Mitch Richardson14 Joaquín Tuculet 15 Tayler Adams 16 Joe Tomlinson17 Cole Keith 18 Gastón Cortes 19 Paul Ciulini 20 Ollie Nott 21 Kobe Faust 22 Andrew Ferguson 23 Sam Malcolm