Updates on the 2019 Major League Rugby (MLR) season and the Canadian athletes throughout the league.
The second week of the Major League Rugby season featured three matches, all of which featured Canadian players. With the Toronto Arrows on a rest week and several players currently traveling with Canada on the South American leg of the Americas Rugby Championship, only five Canadians were on display this week though all started for their respective teams.
Travis Larsen was again wearing the No8 jersey for Austin Elite as they hosted the Utah Warriors at Dell Diamond on Friday evening. He was forced to the sideline on a couple occasions for running repairs on a deep gash under his eye sustained early in the match but managed to stick it out for the whole game and played well.
The Elite were short of several leading players on ARC duty – Canada duo Josh Larsen and Doug Fraser being two – while others are waiting on visa approval. Utah opened their campaign with several new players including a pair of Mitre 10 Cup veterans from New Zealand. Their experience helped the Warriors score two tries to none en route to a 17-9 victory.
Saturday’s action began in New Orleans where the Gold were hosting the Glendale Raptors. The 2018 finalists had fallen to Seattle in their season opener and most expected a stern response. In perfect playing conditions the two sides combined for 10 tries with NOLA coming away 40-31 winners to claim top spot overall with a perfect 10 points from two games.
Regular skipper Eric Howard and flanker Kyle Baillie were away with Canada, but prop Hubert Buydens was there to help out an inexperienced pack. His presence proved invaluable both in the scrum and the loose as the young NOLA forwards passed the test against a battle-hardened Glendale side.
San Diego was the spot for the last game of the weekend late Saturday afternoon. The Legion are at their best in the sunshine but on this day they were forced to front up against the defending champion Seattle Seawolves in torrential rain that lasted from start to finish. The home side took a 14-3 lead into the break thanks in part to a penalty try from a scrum and held on to win 17-13.
Seattle had three Canadians in their lineup. Phil Mack received a yellow card in the first half after slowing down a San Diego attack in scoring position. Brock Staller kicked one conversion and two penalty goals in miserable conditions, and George Barton had a strong game defensively at inside centre in his first start of the season.
It will be three matches again this coming weekend. Friday night will see the return of the Arrows as they head to Texas to play Austin Elite. On Saturday night it’s the Houston SaberCats on the road against the San Diego Legion, and the undefeated NOLA Gold will host the Seattle Seawolves on Sunday afternoon.
The Arrows match will be broadcast live on GameTV, with a live stream also available on the Austin Elite Facebook page. Major League Rugby will stream the other matches on their official Facebook page for Canadian and international viewers.
WEEK 3 SCHEDULE
Toronto Arrows at Austin Elite
Friday, February 8
5pm PT, 8pm ET
Houston SaberCats at San Diego Legion
Saturday, February 9
7pm PT, 10pm ET
Seattle Seawolves at NOLA Gold
Sunday, February 10
1pm PT, 4pm ET