San Diego Legion hosts the Utah Warriors at Snapdragon Stadium to open the 2023 Major League Rugby season. Kickoff is at 7 pm ET (4 pm local) and for those who can’t attend, the match is being broadcast nationally on Fox Sports 2 and internationally on The Rugby Network. The latter will also replay the match domestically after a 24-hour delay.
The Utah Warriors spent the last two weeks in San Diego and played the Legion last weekend. While the first half was close, the Legion erupted in the second half to win 56-26.
San Diego Legion
The Legion looks to be the favorite to win the Western Conference this year. The team has an explosive backline and forwards who can hold their own in scrums and dominate lineouts. That should lead to securing bonus points and wins.
Head coach Danny Lee has the team prepared for the start of the season and the team sent a message in the second half of a preseason match against the Utah Warriors that the Legion is a playoff contender.
There are six new starters: Sama Malolo, Isaac Ross, Blair Cowan, Tupou Afungia, Richard Judd, and Marcel Brache, along with Faka’osi Pifeleti and Mikey Te’o returning to the team again. The reserves also have four new players: Shilo Klein, Djustice Sears-Duru, Malakai Latu, and Christian Poidevin.
The Utah Warriors opened the preseason against Rugby ATL with a 31-31 draw, with ATL scoring in the closing minutes. Since then they have been at camp in San Diego.
Greg Cooper is the team’s new head coach. He’s among the most experienced coach in MLR and is from New Zealand. He will be looking to work for the team to become a playoff team in 2023.
Many of the players from last year’s core have returned for 2023. There are two new halfbacks in the starting XV: Connor McLeod and Joel Hodgson. There are also two new players in the reserves: Onehunga Havili and Jeremiah Noaese.
Squads With Player Article Links
San Diego Legion: 1 Faka’osi Pifeleti 2 Sama Malolo 3 Nathan Sylvia 4 Ben Grant 5 Isaac Ross 6 Dan Pryor 7 Blair Cowan 8 Tupou Afungia 9 Richard Judd 10 Josh Henderson 11 Tomas Aoake12 Ma’a Nonu (C) 13 Marcel Brache 14 Nate Augspurger 15 Mikey Te’o 16 Shilo Klein17 Djustice Sears-Duru 18 Chris Baumann 19 Chris Turori 20 Malakai Latu 21Christian Poidevin 22 Will Hooley 23 Ryan Matyas
Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van Den Berg 2 Tuvere Vugakoto 3 Paul Mullen 4 Jamie Lane 5 Saia Uhila 6 Lance Williams 7 Bailey Wilson (C) 8 Jurie van Vuuren 9 Connor McLeod 10 Joel Hodgson 11 Joe Mano 12 Paul Lasike 13 Calvin Whiting 14 Mika Kruse 15 Caleb Makene 16 Joey Backe 17 Olive Kilifi 18 Angus MacLellan 19 Thomas Tu’avao 20 Onehunga Havili 21 Jeremiah Noaese 22 Zion Going 23 Cliven Loubser