Rugby New York hosts San Diego Legion in a battle of second-place teams from opposing conferences on Sunday, March 13 with a 3 pm ET kickoff. Get your tickets now as another sell-out is likely. The match will be streamed on The Rugby Network. and is being broadcast on Fox 5, San Diego.
Week 6 matches and Standing Implications
In matches impacting the top three in the conference standings, Rugby ATL knocked the Austin Gilgronis from the undefeated ranks and moved to 4-1 in the Eastern Conference with 20 points, while the Gilronis fell to 5-1 and remain in first place with 23 points.
In another key Eastern Conference match, the New England Free Jacks beat the Toronto Arrows 21-15 to move into second place 4-1 with 19 points) while the. Arrows fell to 2-3 with 10 points. The Arrows scored a converted try in the 85th minute to gain a bonus point.
A win by Rugby New York against San Diego could place some distance between the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. A loss, however, would tighten up the race for the third playoff spot.
Rugby New York began the weekend in second place with a 3-1 record, one point behind Rugby ATL and with a 3 point differential advantage over the Free Jacks. A 4 point win over the Legion would keep them in second place and a bonus point 21 point win would move them into first place.
NOLA Gold (1-3 with 6 points) plays away against the Dallas jackals (0-5 with 2 points) later tonight, while Old Glory DC (0-5, in last place with zero points) has a bye. NOLA Gold is favored to earn a bonus-point win, which would give the team a 2-3 record with 11 points to move them into fourth place, while they would need an 8 point win without the bonus point.
In the other Western Conference Saturday match, fourth-place Houston SaberCats (2-3 with 11 points) hosts the third-place Seattle Seawolves (3-2 with 15 points). On Sunday, Rugby New York hosts second-place San Diego (20 points), and the LA Giltinis (2-2 with 9 points) hosts the Utah Warriors (1-3 with 8 points).
Rugby New York
New York has been effective in making match day changes this season. Team strengths are in the set pieces, mauls, and at the breakdown. The team seeks to move the ball quickly to the wide channels, and at times, handling errors and penalties have thwarted attacks. The team has a strong defense, especially when defending inside their 22-meters.
Look for New York to test the Legion early, and try to take a lead to stifle San Diego’s potent attack.
The match includes a player milestone for New York as Sam Windsor will play in his 50th MLR match when he enters as a reserve. He played for every match for the. Houston SaberCats from 2018 to 2021 and has done the same for Rugby New York this year. Sam is the MLR all-time points scoring leader.
The team had tighthead prop Kalolo Tuiloma making the MLR Week 5 First XV, which was his second consecutive week achieving that honor.
Head Coach Marty Veale has continued to rotate players, making four changes in the starters and another three in the reserves. Charlie Hewitt, Kara Pryor, and Tory Lockyear return as starters at lock, No.8, and at fullback, respectively, while former New Zealand All Black Andy Ellis gains his first start of the season at scrumhalf. Brendon O’Connor also switched from No.8 to openside flanker.
Reserve changes include Kaleb Geiger returning from a head knock two weeks ago, as well as Conor McManus joining the matchday squad again, while flanker Jon Grzeszczyk could make his MLR debut.
The front row reserves include Nic Mayhew, a former Super Rugby prop who can play either side, with Brazilian international Wilton Rebolo, who can play any position in the front row. Kaleb Gieger is a crossover hooker from the American Raptors, who may be the strongest man on the team. Joe Basser has played back row in the NSW Shute Shield.
Back reserves include scrumhalf Conor McManus, who played in the Mitre 10 Cup, now NPC, Sam Windsor, who can play flyhalf, inside-center, or fullback, and Canadian international center/wing, Quinn Ngawati.
The reserves will be critical in this match, which will be cold, windy, and they will need to match very experienced Legion ones to close the match.
San Diego Legion
San Diego utilizes their backs, using center crashes, and their back three to exploit gaps. Joe Pietersen is among the MLR points leaders and he will make the opposition pay when penalties occur inside opposition territory.
San Diego had Ben Mitchell and Thomas Morani making the MLR Week 5 First XV. Ben, who played for the. USA Selects, is a force in the lineouts, while Thomas, a center, has been a key member in the Legion’s attack.
San Diego has made two changes in the starters and another four changes in the reserves from last week. South African Hencus Van Wyk returns at tighthead prop with former Rugby New York prop, Paddy Ryan rested, and Dan Pryor, the brother of New York’s Kara Pryor, is the blindside flanker with former England captain Chris Robshaw moving to the reserves.
Hencus has played Super Rugby with the Bulls, Lions, and Sunwolves, and played in the Currie Cup last year with the Free State Cheetahs.
Reserves changes include USA international hooker, Peter Malcolm, and USA scrumhalf, Nate Augspurger, who will be the team’s vice-captain. Making their debuts for the team are New Zealand loosehead prop Joe Walsh, who has played over 50 Mitre 10/NPC matches for the Southland Stags, as well as briefly for the Super Rugby Blues. and Rohan O’Regan, an eight-man from Australia, who played over 75 matches in the NSW Shute Shield, over 20 in NRC, and also played for the Ealing Trailfinders in the U.K.
The match will be a special one for Dan Pryor, who played Mitre10/NPC with his brother Kara for Northland, and now faces him playing against New York. Dan also played Super Rugby for the Highlanders and Sunwolves, and like Kara, played for the Māori All Blacks.
San Diego has a very strong group of reserves for the match, with the fiery Nate Augspurger returning to the New York area to try and help the Legion gain a victory. Front row replacements include two players with USA national team experience in Malcolm and Baumann, with Walsh another experienced prop, and both Robshaw and O’Regan will be a force in the closing minutes for the forwards. Canadian international Josh Thiel can cover flyhalf, fullback or center, and USA Sevens player, Marcus Tupuola wing or center.
San Diego has played all their matches in warmer weather and with the wintery cold temperatures expected at game time, will this impact the team’s potent attack?
Squads with Player Article Links
Rugby New York: 1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Kalolo Tuiloma 4 Nate Brakeley (C) 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Will Tucker 7 Brendon O’Connor 8 Kara Pryor 9 Andy Ellis 10 Jack Heighton 11 Ed Fidow 12 Jason Emery 13 Faasiu Fuatai 14 Andrew Coe 15 Troy Lockyear 16 Kaleb Geiger 17 Nic Mayhew 18 Wilton Rebolo19 Jon Grzeszczyk 20 Joe Basser 21 Conor McManus 22 Sam Windsor 23 Quinn Ngawati
SAN DIEGO LEGION 1 Nathan Sylvia 2 Matt Moulds 3 Hencus Van Wyk 4 Ben Mitchell 5 Ben Grant 6 Dan Pryor 7 Michael Smith 8 Tevita Tameilau (C) 9 Jason Higgins10 Will Hooley 11 Matías Freyre 12 Tiaan Loots 13 Thomas Morani 14 Kainoa Lloyd 15 Joe Pietersen 16 Pete Malcolm 17 Joe Walsh 18 Chris Baumann 19 Chris Robshaw 20 Rohan O’Regan 21 Nate Augspurger (C) 22 Josh Thiel 23 Marcus Tupuola
Rugby New York: Record 3-1
- Houston SaberCats 7-10 Rugby New York
- Rugby ATL 31-36 Rugby New York
- Dallas Jackals 5-41 Rugby New York
- Rugby New York 29-38 New England Free Jacks
- Rugby New York vs San Diego Legion
San Diego Legion: Record 4-1
- San Diego Legion 31-29 Utah Warriors
- San Diego Legion 37-29 Dallas Jackals
- San Diego Legion 28-31 Seattle Seawolves
- Houston SaberCats 20-31 San Diego Legion
- San Diego Legion 24-12 Old Glory DC
- Rugby New York vs San Diego Legion
Rugby New York Interviews
As a rugby journalist, 2022 is another opportunity to conduct interviews again on the field and this is planned again for all home matches, as well as the April 10th match in LA. Look for DJCoil Rugby interviews on the DJCoil Rugby YouTube Channel and also on the website under Videos, Professional Rugby Interviews.
There will also be interviews conducted with players and staff from other teams. Last week, an interview was also done with Free Jacks GM/Owner Alex Magleby.