The New England Free Jacks hosts Rugby New York in the Major League Rugby Eastern Conference Final at Quincy, Massachusetts on June 19 at 3 pm. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and streamed internationally on The Rugby Network where there will be a 24-hour delayed replay in the U.S.
The teams met thrice during the regular season, each winning on the road. The Free Jacks enter their first playoff, coming off a 21-14 loss to Rugby New York, while New York has a three-match winning streak, including a playoff road win, 26-19, in Atlanta on June 11.
Whichever team wins the Eastern Conference Final, will host the MLR Shield Championship against the Western Conference Final winner, either the Houston SaberCats or the Seattle Seawolves.
MLR Awards and National Team Selection
Dylan Fawsitt was named MLR Player of the Week based on his performance in Rugby New York’s win over Rugby ATL. He is also a nominee for the 2022 S. Marcus Calloway Community Impact Award along with New England’s Harry Barlow. This award will be announced at the MLR Shield Championship.
The international rugby season is about ready to begin. Rugby New York has already had two players announced that will play in the Pacific Nations Cup which will be held in Fiji in July. Kalolo Tuiloma and Ed Fidow were named to the Manu Samoa squad by head coach Vaovasamanaia Seilala Mapusua.
The USA Men’s National Team 30-man traveling squad was also named this week for matches against the French Barbarians and for Rugby World Cup Qualifier away and home matches against Chile. Rugby New York’s Ben Bonasso, Chance Wenglewski, Nate Brakeley, and Nick Civetta were named to the squad along with the Free Jacks Mitch Wilson.
Rugby Canada’s National Team was also named for matches against Belgium and Spain. Free jacks captain Josh Larsen and Isaac Olson were selected along with Rugby New York’s Quinn Ngawati, while Free Jacks Foster DeWitt and Andrew Coe are listed as unavailable for selection.
New England Free Jacks
The Free Jacks enter the match with a 13-3 record, which is the best record in Major League Rugby. They come into the match after a bye week and a 21-14 loss to Rugby New York on June 3.
Head Coach Scott Mathie has made six changes in the starters from that match and another in the reserves. Forwards changes include Kyle Ciquera at loosehead prop, Josh Larsen at lock and resuming the captain’s role, Jesse Parete at blindside flanker, and Wian Conradie at No.8. There are two changes in the backs with John Poland at scrumhalf and LeRoux Malan at the inside center.
There is also one change in the reserves with Reegan O’Gorman at lock. Mathie has elected to go with a 6/2 split in the reserves.
Rugby New York
Rugby New York enters the match with a 12-5 record, a three-match winning streak, and the confidence that they ended the Free Jacks’ 8-game home unbeaten streak in the last game of the regular season. The team also comes into the match with their first playoff win.
The team plays expansive rugby, yet the team defense has been a key factor in their recent wins. The team will need to control their own set pieces, have an edge in the breakdown battle and minimize handling errors and penalties to advance to the MLR Shield Championship.
Head Coach Marty Veale has made three changes in the starters with Nick Civetta starting at lock instead of Charlie Hewitt, Kara Pryor at No.8, who returns from an injury, and Andrew Coe at left wing for Ed Fidow. Dylan Fawsitt shifts to his preferred hooker position from No.8.
The is also one change in the reserves with Quinn Ngawati available at either wing or center as needed.
Squads with Player Article Links
New England Free Jacks: 1 Kyle Ciquera 2 Mills Sanerivi 3 Erich de Jager 4 Josh Larsen (C) 5 Stan van den Hoven 6 Jesse Parete 7 Joe Johnston 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 Dougie Fife 16 Foster DeWitt 17Quentin Newcomer 18 Tevita Sole 19 Reegan O’Gorman 20 Cam Davidowicz 21 Holden Yungert 22 Jack Reeves 23 Terrell Peita
RUGBY NEW YORK: 1 Chance Wenglewski 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Wilton Rebolo 4 Ben Bonasso (C) 5 Nick Civetta 6 Antonio Kiri Kiri 7 Brendon O’Connor 8 Kara Pryor 9 Andy Ellis 10 Jack Heighton 11 Andrew Coe12 Jason Emery 13 Faasiu Fuatai 14 Waisake Naholo 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder 16 Kaleb Geiger 17 Nic Mayhew 18 Kalolo Tuiloma 19 Nate Brakeley 20 Joe Basser 21 Conor McManus 22 Sam Windsor 23 Quinn Ngawati