The remaining Major League Rugby Eastern Conference playoff spot will be decided on Saturday, July 17 when Rugby United New York faces NOLA Gold at Belson Stadium on St. John’s University Campus. The kickoff is at 2 pm and $10 tickets may be obtained by clicking here.
For those who can’t attend, the match will be broadcast on MSG, Cos Sports Network, and streamed on The Rugby Network.
Rugby United New York can advance to the Eastern Conference Final against Rugby ATL on July 24 with a win, draw, a bonus point, or a loss by less than 20 points.
New York and NOLA Gold will welcome back their USA and Canadian Internationals for this match.
New York’s Nick Civetta (28 caps) started both matches for the USA against England and Ireland, with Nate Brakeley (25 caps) coming in as a reserve. Hanco Germishuys (23 caps) entered as a replacement against England and started at blindside flanker against Ireland. Quinn Ngawati (2 caps) made his debut for Canada against Wales on July 3 and entered off the bench against England.
Wilton Rebolo (32 caps), who is still involved in international tests, played hooker in a South American Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifier 23-13 loss against Chile last Sunday and will face Uruguay on July 25.
NOLA Gold will have six of their eight internationals return for the final regular-season match in New York. Cam Dolan (53 caps) started both matches for the USA against England and Ireland, with Matt Harmon (2 caps) and Dino Waldren (21 caps) entering as replacements in both at loosehead and tighthead prop, respectively. Andrew Guerra (1 cap) made his USA debut against Ireland and Lockie Kratz (1 cap) made his Canadian debut against England. Eric Howard (27 caps) played against Wales and England as a replacement.
Ignacio Dotti (51 caps) and Nikola Bursic (31 caps) are still involved in the South American Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers. They will play for Uruguay and Chile, respectively, on July 18.
Rugby United New York
Rugby United New York is in second place in the MLR Eastern Conference (10-5, +32 point differential, 56 tries, 51 points) and meets third place NOLA Gold (9-5-1, -6 PD, 44 tires, 46 points) in the final regular-season match. Both teams are seeking the final MLR playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, which will play Rugby ATL on Saturday, July 24 at 8 pm ET. The match will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
New York has an edge going into the final match and needs either a bonus point, a win, a draw, or a loss to NOLA Gold by less than 20 points. A win by NOLA Gold by 19 points, coupled with no bonus points, would still have New York advancing based on total tries.
Rugby ATL travels to New England to conclude the MLR regular season. They have an 11-4 record, with a +102 point differential, 55 tries, and 56 points. Even should they lose along with a New York bonus-point win, it is doubtful that ATL would lose home-field advantage in the Eastern Conference Final.
New York enters the match after a bonus-point win over the Houston SaberCats 54-19 last Saturday.
Captain Dylan Fawsitt is tied for third place with 9 tries, just behind league leaders San Deigo’s Bjorn Basson and LA’s DTH van der Merwe, who have 10. Dan Hollinshead, who missed several weeks due to a should injury, is back and is a league leader in conversions (5th, 19), penalty goals (2nd, 19), and total points (3rd, 103). Andy Ellis is in 7th place in try assists with 6.
Head Coach Marty Veale has made four starter changes with USA internationals Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, and Hanco Germishuys back along with Canadian international Quinn Ngawati. There is also one change in the reserves with Keanu Andrade gaining his first matchday 23 for New York.
Rugby United New York starters have 200 international caps. Loosehead prop Sak Taulafo has 44 caps for Samoa, hooker and captain Dylan Fawsitt has 15 (USA), tighthead prop, and last week’s Geico XV Samu Tawake has 1 for Fiji. The USA locks Nate Brakeley has 25 and Nick Civetta 28, while blindside flanker Hanco Germishuys has 23. Scrumhalf Andy Ellis has 28 for New Zealand, inside center Quinn Ngawati 2 for Canada, and Ben Foden 34 for England.
Rounding out the forwards are openside flanker Ben Bonasso, who has impressed USA National Team coaches and has previously played for Argentina U20s, and Kara Pryor who has played Super Rugby and for the New Zealand Maori.
In the backs, flyhalf Dan Hollinshead has played Mitre 10 Cup for Bay of Plenty and Super Rugby for the Highlanders. left-wing Apenisa Cakaubalavu has played for Fiji 7s, outside center Will Leonard for Shannon in the All-Ireland League, and Joel Miranda, who was born in the U.S., played for Argentina U19s.
The reserves include Rob Irimescu, a hooker/flanker, who is from New York, attended Xavier High School, and was a Collegiate All-American at Penn State University. Loosehead prop James Rochford played for Dolphins RFC and for Munster, while tighthead prop Kirk Hamilton played for NYAC and the USA Islanders. Charlie Hewitt is a 6’7″lock, who could be added to the National Team soon. He played for the Worcester Warriors and the Houston saberCats. Evan Mintern, who is a back-row/lock, played for Ireland U20s, and Cork Constitution in the All-Ireland League.
The three reserve backs include scrumhalf Conor McManus, who played for the USA U19s, and Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup. Harry Bennett, a flyhalf/fullback, played for Eastern Suburbs, Sacramento Express, and NYAC. Keanu Andrade played for Cal Varsity Rugby, as well as for New Orleans RFC, and in pre-season matches for NOLA Gold.
NOLA Gold made their playoff hopes difficult with last Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the Seattle Seawolves. The team beat Rugby United New York 51-28 in New Orleans the second week of the season, March 27. Since then, both teams have been among the league leaders.
Julian Dominguez is tied for 5th place in tries with 8, and Carl Meyer is in 7th place in penalty goals with 11.
Head Coach Nate Osborne has made five changes in the starters with USA internationals Matt Harmon, Dino Waldren, Cam Dolan, and Andrew Guerra back. Damian Stevens swaps places with Holden Yungert at scrumhalf.
Canadian internationals Eric Howard and Kockie Kratz are not on the matchday roster, and Kyle Baillie is still out due to injury.
NOLA Gold’s front row consists of USA internationals Matt Harmon (2 caps) and Dino Waldren (21 caps) at loosehead and tighthead prop, respectively. Pat O’Toole, who played with the USA Selects is at hooker. Cam Dolan (53 caps) is paired with Billy Stewart (USA Rugby South) at lock. The back row includes former Penn State Collegiate All-American Malcolm May and newly capped Andrew Guerra (1 cap). Moni Tonga’uiha is at No.8. He previously played for Life West and the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy.
The halfbacks include Namibian international Damian Stevens (27 caps) and Timothee Guilliman, who played for France U18s, Austin Huns, Austin Elite Rugby, and the New England Free Jacks.
The center combination has JP Du Plessis, who has played Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels and the Stormers, as well as with the San Diego Legion pairing with Juan Cappiello, who played with Argentina (3 caps). The back three has Julian Dominguez (Argentina XV) and Hanno Dirksen (Ospreys) at wing, with Carl Meyer (Dragons) at fullback.
The reserves have three former Collegiate All-Americans in the front row, with props Kevin Sullivan and Brian Nault, along with hooker Kevin O’Connor. Another former U20s player, Will Waguespack, is a lock. Giovanni Lapp completes the forwards in the back-row.
Back reserves have former St Mary’s of California All-American and USA Select scrumhalf, Holden Yungert. Speedster and former USA Falcons Sevens player JoJo Tikoisuva is at wing, with Kyle Rogers, a former Collegiate All-American, and San Diego Legion back at fullback.
Squads with Player Article Links
Rugby United New York: 1 Sak Taulafo 2 Dylan Fawsitt (C) 3 Samu Tawake 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Nick Civetta 6 Hanco Germishuys 7 Ben Bonasso 8 Kara Pryor 9 Andy Ellis 10 Dan Hollinshead 11 Apenisa Cakaubalavu 12 Quinn Ngawati 13 Will Leonard 14 Joel Miranda 15 Ben Foden 16 Rob Irimescu 17 James Rochford 18 Kirk Hamilton 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Evan Mintern 21 Conor McManus 22 Harry Bennett 23 Keanu Andrade
NOLA Gold: 1 Matt Harmon 2 Pat O’Toole 3 Dino Waldren 4 Cam Dolan (c) 5 Billy Stewart 6 Malcolm May 7 Andrew Guerra 8 Moni Tonga’uiha 9 Damian Stevens 10 Timothée Guillimin11 Julián Domínguez 12 JP du Plessis 13 Juan Cappiello 14 Hanno Dirksen 15 Carl Meyer 16 Kevin O’Connor 17 Kevin Sullivan 18 Brian Nault 19 William Waguespack 20 Giovanni Lapp 21 Holden Yungert 22 Joeli Tikoisuva 23 Kyle Rogers