Rugby New York Hosts Free Jacks in Key MLR Match

Rugby New York hosts the New England Free Jacks on April 24 in their second meeting of three matches during the 2022 Major League Rugby season. The kickoff is at 2:30 pm at JFK Stadium in Hoboken, New Jersey and tickets are available. The match is being broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

Both teams enter the match after a bye week with Rugby New York in third place based on point differential to the Toronto Arrows (6-5), after a loss last night to the Houston SaberCats. New York enters the match with a 6-3 record, 30 points. The Free Jacks top the Eastern Conference with an 8-1 record and 37 points and have a six-match winning streak since their March 6 win over New York.

Conditions will be different today with temperatures around 62 degrees Fahrenheit. That is 30 degrees higher than the last match as the wind chill impacted handling into contact.

Rugby New York enters the match after a shutout loss in Los Angeles by the Giltinis two weeks ago. That was a match that saw five players leaving the match through HIAs or minor injuries, and playing with 14 men after the 65th minute due to an injury.

Rugby New York facing New England is one of two Sunday matches for the top three teams in the Eastern Conference standings. At 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) Western Conference contender San Diego Legion will need a win at home to reclaim third place in the West, while Rugby ATL is right on the heels of New England for first place in the East.

Rugby New York

Rugby New York had two players join the team with USA international lock Nick Civetta returning to the team after playing in the Varsity Cup in Oxford University’s 21-17 win over Cambridge University. That was an important milestone for him as the match last year was postponed and conflicted with the July internationals.

Also joining the team was former New Zealand All Black wing/center, Waisake Naholo, a proven try-scorer, who could provide a spark to the already potent Rugby New York attack. His likely debut will wait until next week against NOLA Gold.

The team’s leading try-scorers have been wings, Andrew Coe and Ed Fidow, who each have scored four tries. Ed is in fourth place in MLR in carrying meters with 820, while Fa’asiu Fuatai is in sixth with 787 meters.

The team will need to minimize handling errors, which have stopped scoring opportunities, contest the breakdown, which will continue attacks or create turnovers, and will lessen. the threat of Free Jacks’ counterattacks.

Rugby New York also needs to excel in the scrums and have an edge in the lineouts. Making tackles will also be critical as New England excels in utilizing crashes and slants to exploit the defense.

The betting odds and the pundits favor the Free Jacks by 4 points. Matches still need to be played and New York needs the win to keep up in the race for the playoffs. Expect the team to play with a competitive fire!

Marty Veale has made four changes in the starters and three in the reserves. Brendon O’Connor returns to the squad at openside flanker after being rested against the Giltinis, while Ben Bonasso shifts to blindside flanker. The halfbacks pairing has changed with Andy Ellis at scrumhalf and Jack Heighton at flyhalf. Ishmail Shabazz makes his first MLR start on the right-wing.

Reserve changes include USA International Nick Civetta re-joining the team after playing in the Varsity Match for Oxford against Cambridge. Jonathan Grzeszczyk could make his MLR debut in the back row, and Connor Buckley is available at scrumhalf.

New York is missing three players that had head knocks against LA, Will Tucker, Andrew Coe, and Wilton Rebolo. All played for New York in the first match against the Free Jacks. Pago Haini and Joe Basser also played in that match.

New England Free Jacks

The Free Jacks have two of the leading try-scorers in MLR in Beaudein Waaka and Slade McDowall with five tries each. Waaka has been having an MVP-type season and is a thread to weave through the defense with his quick feet and punish opponents’ errors with his boot. He is second in MLR in points scored with 87.

Both Dougie Fife and Mitch Wilson are also players to watch in the attack. McDowall and Joe Johnston are dynamic players around the pitch and in the breakdown.

The Free Jacks have made four changes in the starters since their previous match against the Seattle Seawolves with Peter Jansen at hooker, Wian Conradie at No.8, and Jesse Parete shifting from No.8 to blindside flanker. Mitch Wilson and Harrison Boyle are at right-wing and fullback, respectively instead of Zach Bastres and Dougie Fife, who miss out on the matchday squad.

In the reserves, Canadian international Issac Olson could make his MLR debut.

The squad also differs from the first match against Rugby New York on March 6. Peter Jansen, Jesse Parete, Wian Conradie, Paula Balekana, Spencer Krueger, and Isaac Olson were not on that matchday squad with Tevita Sole, Jack Reeves, Foster DeWitt, and Terrell Peita not on the April 24th squad. Peita, unfortunately, needed to leave the team to deal with a family tragedy in New Zealand.

Squads with Player Article Links

Rugby New York: 1 Nic Mayhew 2 Kaleb Geiger 3 Kalolo TuilomaNate Brakeley (C) 5 Charlie HewittBen Bonasso 7 Brendon O’ConnorKara Pryor 9 Andy Ellis 10 Jack Heighton  11 Ed Fidow 12 Jason Emery 13 Faasiu Fuatai 14 Ismail Shabazz 15 Troy Lockyear 16 Dylan Fawsitt 17 Chance Wenglewski 18 Sak Taulafo 19 Nick Civetta 20 Jonathan Grzeszczyk 21Connor Buckley 22 Sam Windsor 23 Quinn Ngawati

New England Free Jacks: 1 Kyle Ciquera 2 Pieter Jansen 3 Erich de Jager 4 Josh Larsen (C) 5 Stan van den Hoven 6 Jesse Parete 7 Slade McDowall 8 Wian Conradie 9 John Poland 10 Beaudein Waaka 11 Paula Balekana 12 Le Roux Malan 13 Wayne van der Bank 14 Mitch Wilson 15 Harrison Boyle16 Mills Sanerivi 17 Alex Johnston 18 Spencer Krueger 19 Reegan O’Gorman 20 Joe Johnston 21 Holden Yungert 22 Isaac Olson 23 Cam Davidowicz

2022 Records

Rugby New York: Record 6-3, 30 points, 3rd place

New England Free Jacks 8-1, 37 points, 1st place

  • NOLA Gold 13-24 New England Free Jacks
  • Old Glory DC 25-41 New England Free Jacks
  • LA Giltinis 19-15 New England Free Jacks
  • Rugby New York 29-38 New England Free Jacks
  • New England Free Jacks 21-15 Toronto Arrows
  • Austin Gilgronis 17-25 New England Free Jacks
  • Rugby ATL 27-41 New England Free Jacks
  • New England Free Jacks 33-29 NOLA Gold
  • New England Free Jacks 24-22 Seattle Seawolves
  • Rugby New York vs New England Free Jacks April 24
  • New England Free Jacks vs Utah Warriors April 30

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant