Major League Rugby Update: Week 7

Bryan Ray
Rugby 15s Senior Men

Updates on the 2019 Major League Rugby (MLR) season and the Canadian athletes throughout the league. 

The 7th week of the 2019 Major League Rugby season saw the divide grow between the contenders and the pretenders, but one game in particular stood out from the rest. Sunday’s contest in balmy San Diego was the closest of the weekend as the Legion hosted the Toronto Arrows in what turned out to be a barn-burner at Torero Stadium.

A poor first half saw the Arrows fall behind by a score of 17-3 at the break. Maori All Blacks international Jordan Manihera signed for the Legion during the week and the big eightman would score with his first touch of the ball just seconds after kickoff. Eagles flanker Psalm Wooching scored the second as Toronto could only muster a single shot at goal from Sam Malcolm in the opening 40 minutes.

Joe Pietersen chipped over a simple drop goal early in the second half to stretch the lead. Whatever was grumbled between the forwards on the jog back to halfway seemed to work, as suddenly the Legion were back on their heels for the first time in the match.

It was teenage sensation Avery Oitomen who finally broke through, steaming onto a Spencer Jones pass and stepping past the last defender to score a cracking individual try. Just a couple minutes later it was Oitomen again, this time popping up at first receiver and ghosting through a gap to make it a double.

Malcolm converted both to make the gap three, and ten minutes later the comeback was complete. AJ Quattrin smashed through the line and was hauled down just short, but Mike Sheppard was in hot pursuit to pick and drive the rest of the way. A second penalty from Malcolm made it 27-20 after the scrum had flexed their muscles, sealing a famous victory for the Arrows.

The first match of the weekend saw Rugby United New York put the Utah Warriors to the sword by 47-21. It was another snowy night at Salt Lake and it was the home side who seemed to struggle most with the conditions. Two tries each for Connor Wallace-Sims and Mark O’Keeffe gave New York all they needed for the bonus point win.

Saturday’s contest between the Glendale Raptors and Austin Elite at Infinity Park didn’t go as planned for the visitors. Glendale showed their class with a dominant 38-19 win, outscoring Austin five tries to three. There was reason to cheer for Canadians, however, as Halifax export Moe Abdelmonem made his MLR debut for Austin. The dynamic openside made it a night to remember, scoring a try and grabbing several turnovers to earn Man-of-the-Match honors for the Elite. Travis Larsen came off the bench to make a positive impact at No8 in the second half.

Seattle survived a scare from the Houston SaberCats on Sunday. The SaberCats scored the only try of the first half and led 14-13 in the 70th minute when the Seawolves finally woke from their slumber. Two late scores made the final score 27-14 to the defending champions with Brock Staller extending his MLR scoring lead with 12 points, taking his total to 79 on the season. Cam Polson started the game at flanker for Seattle with midfielder George Barton used as an impact sub in the final quarter.

There are four games on tap this week, with an historic match kicking things off as New York hosts Toronto in the first ever game at Coney Island’s MCU Park. The other three games are all on Saturday. Seattle travels to Austin in a match that should feature several Canadians, and Houston will square off against Eric Howard and his NOLA Gold in Texas. Noah Barker could make his MLR debut for Glendale when they host San Diego in the final match of the weekend.

All matches will be available to Canadian viewers on the official MLR Facebook page. Toronto’s game in New York will also be broadcast nation-wide on GameTV.



Toronto Arrows at Rugby United New York

Friday, March 15

4pm PT, 7pm ET


Seattle Seawolves at Austin Elite

Saturday, March 16

4pm PT, 7pm ET


NOLA Gold at Houston SaberCats

Saturday, March 16

5pm PT, 8pm ET


San Diego Legion at Glendale Raptors

Saturday, March 16

6pm PT, 9pm ET