MLR Playoff Implications: Rugby New York vs Rugby ATL

Rugby New York faces Rugby ATL in their final regular-season home match on Sunday, May 22 at 3 pm at JFK Stadium in Hoboken, New Jersey. Tickets are quickly moving for what is expected to be another sell-out crowd. The match will be streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

Preceding the match at noon, the New York City Fire Department plays the New York City Police Department. The teams last played in 2019 before RUNY at MCU Park. Discounted tickets for these two groups may be purchased through this link.

The MLR Eastern Conference is nearing the completion of the regular season on June 5. The Toronto Arrows ended the Free jacks’ ten-match winning streak with a 33-18 victory and will hope that Rugby New York beats Rugby ATL on Sunday.

The Arrows trail Atlanta with 40 points to the Ratlers 42 and travel to meet them on May 28. Rugby ATL has a three-game losing streak and losses to New York and next week to Toronto could result in the Arrows jumping ahead of Atlanta for the final playoff spot. Rugby ATL will complete their regular season on June 3 against rival NOLA Gold, while Toronto plays the final MLR regular season match against Old Glory on June 5.

Rugby New York can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win over Rugby ATL. They enter the match with a 9-4 record in second place with 47 points. Rugby ATL is in third place with an 8-5 record and 42 points. A bonus-point win for New York would move them to 52 points, 4 points behind the 12-2 Free Jacks with 56 points. The Free jacks would be favored to beat NOLA Gold and New York the same when they travel to face Old Glory DC on May 29. That would create a situation where a New York win against the Free Jacks on June 3 could shape up to be for the Eastern Conference Championship.

Should Rugby New York finish in second place they would play the third-place Eastern Conference team, Rugby ATL or the Toronto Arrows, likely on Saturday, June 11, or have a bye as the top seed, if they continue to win their remaining matches with bonus-point wins.

Rugby New York beat Rugby ATL away 35-31 on Feb 19 and has won all regular-season matches since the teams joined the league. Atlanta, however, won last year’s Eastern Conference Final 10-9, which propelled them into the Championship match for the MLR Shield against LA Giltinis.

Rugby New York

Brendon O’Connor has been outstanding this season and he was included in the Week 15 All MLR First Team for the second consecutive week. Ed Fidow is the second leading try scorer in MLR with 9 tries and is also second in ball carry meters. Jack Heighton is seventh in MLR for points scored.

Head Coach Marty Veale has made five changes in the starters and another two in the reserves since last week’s win over the Seattle Seawolves. Sak Taulafo returns at tighthead as Kalolo Tuiloma is rested. Nick Civetta returns at lock with Charlie Hewitt rotating to the reserves. Antonio Kiri Kiri makes his starting debut at No.8 and former All Blacks Nehe Milner-Skudder made his MLR debut at fullback with Andrew Coe moving to the reserves. There was also a last-minute change with Quinn Ngawati at the inside center for Jason Emery.

The reserve changes include Wilton Rebolo returning to the matchday squad at tighthead prop. He returns from an injury sustained on April 10 against the LA Giltinis. Joe Basser also will be ready at flanker.

Rugby ATL

For Will Leonard, it will be a homecoming of sorts. He played for Rugby New York for the first three MLR seasons before joining Rugby ATL this season. He is second in MLR in carries with 143 and fifth in ball carry meters with 1311. Joaquin De La Vega Mendia is sixth in MLR in points scored with 71.

Head Coach Stephen Brett has made six changes in his starters and another in the reserves since last week’s loss to the New England Free Jacks. Alex Maughan swaps places with Will Burke at loosehead prop, Justin Basson returns at lock with Evan Mintern moving to the reserves and Daemon Torres at No.8. Backs changes have Ryan Rees swapping with Rowan Gouws at scrumhalf, George Burton taking the place of Will Leonard at inside center, and Austin White on left-wing in place of Cole Davis.

John Sullivan returns to the matchday squad as a tighthead reserve.

Squads with Player Article Links

Rugby New York: 1 Nic Mayhew 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Sak Taulafo 4 Nick Civetta 5 Will Tucker 6 Ben Bonasso (C) 7 Brendon O’Connor 8 Antonio Kiri Kiri 9 Connor Buckley 10 Jack Heighton 11 Ed Fidow 12 Quinn Ngawati  13 Faasiu Fuatai 14 Waisake Naholo 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder16 Kaleb Geiger 17 Chance Wenglewski 18 Wilton Rebolo 19 Charlie Hewitt 20 Joe Basser 21Conor McManus 22 Sam Windsor 23 Andrew  Coe

Rugby ATL: 1 Alex Maughan 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg 3 John-Roy Jenkinson 4 Justin Basson 5 Johan Momsen 6 Connor Cook 7 Matt Heaton (C.) 8 Daemon Torres 9 Ryan Rees 10 Kurt Coleman 11 Austin White 12 George Barton 13 Te Rangatira Waitokia 14 Cole Davis 15 Joaquín de la Vega Mendía 16 Tiaan Erasmus 17 Will Burke 18 John Sullivan 19 Evan Mintern 20 Vili Helu 21Rowan Gouws 22 Duncan van Schalkwyk 23 Ryan Nell

2022 Records

Rugby New York: Record 9-4, 47 points, 2nd place

Rugby ATL: Record 8-5, 42 points, 3rd place

  • Rugby ATL 55-22 Old Glory DC
  • NOLA Gold 9-14 Rugby ATL
  • Rugby ATL 31-36 Rugby New York
  • Rugby ATL 29-22 Houston SaberCats
  • Rugby ATL 29-14 Austin Gilronis
  • Old Glory DC 13-27 Rugby ATL
  • Rugby ATL 27-41 New England Free jacks
  • Toronto Arrows 14-20 Rugby ATL
  • NOLA Gold 17-34 Rugby ATL
  • San Diego Legion 17-30 Rugby ATL
  • Rugby ATL 19-31 LA Giltinis
  • Utah Warriors 44-26 Rugby ATL
  • New England Free jacks 15-10 Rugby ATL
  • Rugby New York vs Rugby ATL May 22
  • Rugby ATL vs Toronto Arrows May 28
  • Rugby ATL vs NOLA Gold June 3

DJCoil Rugby Interview: Nick Civetta & Drew Durutalo

Rugby New York Nick Civetta & Drew Durutualo discuss playing in the Varsity Match for Oxford against Cambridge and what it meant for them to play in the Rugby World Cup.

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