American Rugby Premiership 2021 Season Opens with NYAC & Life Wins

Featured Photo: Meral Kathwari

The American Rugby Premiership opened their 2021 season with NYAC defeating Old Blue 29-22 and Life Men’s beating Mystic River 44-15. The fifth member of the league, White Plains, opens their league season September 18. Look for more on their team next week!

The NYAC vs Old Blue match is available on

It’s good to see club rugby being played again after the 2020 season was not held due to pandemic restrictions.

What is different is that the ARP includes many Major League Rugby present and past players. This league, the Midwest Rugby Premiership, Division 1 Club Rugby, Representative side rugby, as well as Academy programs, are providing the opportunities for the best domestic competition available this Fall.

The Texas Rugby Union competition and Pacific Rugby Premiership start closer to 2022, while the British Columbia Premier League also will be held in 2022.

The ARP season opened with NYAC hosting Old Blue. NYAC had nine starters, who played Major League Rugby and James Denise, who played with Rugby United New York from 2018-2020. Anthony Parry, Rob Irimescu, Kirk Hamilton, Connor Buckley, Chris Mattina, and Troy Lockyear played with RUNY. Nick Jimenez, a reserve, was a practice player in 2020.

Other MLR players include include former Iona College graduates, Watson Filikitonga (LA Giltinis) and John Powers (Utah Warriors). Connor Buckley is the third Iona graduate. Mark O’Keeffe, who previously played with RUNY, played in 2021 with Rugby ATL. There were also several RUNY/ Met U23 players on the roster.

Old Blue included five MLR starters, two reserves, and four former or practice players. RUNY players include Diego Maquiera, Evan Mintern, Will Leonard, and Sondai Adjei, along with Connor Wallace-Sims, former players Trevor Cassidy, Chris Vakasiskakala, and Mike St Claire, who was a member of the Jamaica Sevens Team. Kenya XVs and 7s back row, Manate Akuei, was a practice player in 2021.

Former RUNY and 2021 Seattle Seawolves back, JP Aguirre, and 2021 MLR #1 Collegiate Draft Selection for the Dallas jackals, Eric Naposki, rounds out the MLR players.

Life’s Men’s Rugby Club included 12 MLR starters, and two reserves. All except RUNY’s MLR Collegiate #6 Draft selection, Chase Schor-Haskin, played for Rugby ATL. They included Luke Schlotman (the first US player to play for the Toronto Arrows while on loan), Amro Gouda, Wikus Groenewald, Marno Redelinghuys, Ross Deacon, Ryan Rees, Duncan Van Schalkwyk, Sam Cowley, Zander Van Schalkwyk, Jeremy Misailegalu, Austin White, and Harley Davidson, who is returning after a season ending injury as a reserve.

Mystic River has four New England Free Jacks in Kyle Ciquera, Cam Davidowitz, Justin Johnson, and Peceli Rinakama. Mani Young, Devin Ibanez, Adnan Kawuma, and Erik Thompson have previously been part of the Free Jacks.

NYAC vs Old Blue Sep. 11 Recap

NYAC struck first with a try by fullback Troy Lockyear, who motored through a defensive gap for a try under the posts, with flyhalf Chris Mattina, adding the extras for a 7-0 lead. (3 minutes)

Old Blue cut the lead to 7-3 with a 45 meter penalty goal (7th minute) and took the lead two minutes later with a 70 meter try by flanker Monate Akuei, 7-8.

NYAC reclaimed the lead with a try by scrumhalf Connor Buckley with Mattina slotting the conversion, 14-8. (19th minute)

Both team’s defenses prevailed until the 57th and 64th minute when NYAC scored two unconverted tries to push the lead to 24-8.

Old Blue came back with tries by Monate Akuei and Eric Naposki in the 70th and 74th minutes with Connor Wallace-Sims converting to pull within two points, 24-22.

NYAC sealed the match with a try in the 76th minute for a final of 29-22.

The final three NYAC tries were scored by Rob Irimescu (from close range), Troy Lockyear, and Watson Filikitonga.

Photo: Meral Kathwari


NYAC: 1 Anthony Parry 2 Rob Irimescu 3 Kirk Hamilton 4 Mike Brown 5 Stu Williamson 6 Lorenzo Maso 7 James Denise 8 Kilian Bendjaballat 9 Connor Buckley 10 Chris Mattina 11 Watson Filikitonga 12 Moto Filikitonga 13 Mark O’Keeffe 14 John Powers 15 Troy Lockyear 16 North Westall 17 Fintan Murphy 18 Adam Zeich 19 Connor Buck 20 Jack Foure 21 Daniel Hide 22 Luca Allison 23 Nick Jimenez

Old Blue: 1 Jamal Hadley 2 Diego Maquiera 3 Jimmy Sheridan 4 Jhoann Larrata Mantilla 5 Trevor Cassidy 6 Luke Watts (CC) 7 Monate Akuei 8 Evan Mintern 9 Ryan Manning 10 JP Aguirre 11 Mike St Claire 12 Will Leonard 13 Nic Franklyn 14 Kevin Braithwaite 15 Sondai Adjei (CC) 16 Khyheem Findley 17 Francis Dougherty 18 Steve Martinez 19 Adrian Newell 20 Chris Vakasiskakala 21 John Ray 22 Connor Wallace-Sims 23 Eric Naposki

Life Men vs Mystic River

Life scored first with a try by captain Ross Deacon to lead 5-0 before Mystic River cut the lead to 5-3 with a penalty goal.

Life added a penalty goal by Sam Cowley and a try by Ryan Rees with Cowley converting for a 15-3 lead at the break.

Life added an early second half penalty goal by Cowley before tries by Austin White and Cowley, with Cowley slotting both, 32-3.

Both teams would add unconverted tries, 37-8 before trading converted tries for a Life 44-15 final.

Photo: Ben Weitz (Weitzphoto)


Life: 1 Luke Schlotman 2 Amro Gouda 3 Wikus Groenewald 4 Freddy Henry-Ajudua 5 Marno Redelinghuys 6 S. Kramlich 7 Sean Coughlan 8 Ross Deacon (C) 9 Ryan Rees 10 Duncan Van Schalkwyk 11 Sam Cowley 12 Matias Corrado 13 Zander Van Schalkwyk 14 Jeremy Misailegalu 15 Austin White 16 J. Kindis 17 Brandon Rey 18 V. Gonzalez-Garcia 19 Chase Schor Haskin 20 P. Roberts 21 A. Escobedo 22 Harley Davidson 23 J. Carignan

Mystic River: 1Kyle Ciquera 2 TJ Downey 3 Mani Young 4 Cam Davidowitz 5 Cody Davidowitz 6 Devin Ibanez 7 Jack Paloucek 8 Justin Johnson 9 Trent Tougas 10 Calvin Nell 11 Bryan Michel 12 Adnan Kawuma 13 Isaiah Lopez 14 Peceli Rinakama 15 Nick Fujiwara 16 Blades Shields 17 Sean McElhinney 18 Omar El Hout 19 Jon Fonvielle 20 Matt Gash- Gilder 21 Mikey Rudzinsky 22 Matt Kaltenbach 23 Erik Thompson

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