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2019 Schedule Released by Major League Rugby

The USA Rugby fandom can let forth a collective “FINALLY!” as the day we have all waited for has arrived. The release of the 2019 Major League Rugby schedule.

With two new teams, new venues and faces, let’s take a look at how the year will play out:

Week 1 (1/26-1/27):
Toronto @ NOLA
Houston @ Austin
RUNY @ San Diego
Glendale @ Seattle
Right of the bat, we have a rematch of the first ever MLR Championship, with Glendale squaring off against the defending champs, Seattle, on what is sure to be a chilly January evening in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle has done well to retain pieces of their finale winning squad, recently announcing the re-signings of players such as Peter Tiberio, Aladdin Schirmer, and finals Man of the Match Phil Mack, who also served as Head Coach for his team last year as well. The continuity going into this season, plus the added stability brought on by the hiring of Anton Moolman as Head Coach, should bode well for the SeaWolves as they attempt another run at the title.

Meanwhile, Glendale still boasts an impressive roster with both young and veteran talent. While they may have recently lost Bryce Campbell to an overseas signing, they still have one the best coaches in the league with Dave Williams, a try-scoring machine in Harley Davidson, and Shawn Davies is still one of the most able scrumhalves in the country. If they can count on their academy to properly and consistently develop players, Glendale could be looking at a Patriots style dynasty in the near future.

The Battle for Texas rages on when Houston travels to Austin, hoping to repeat their only win from last season. Houston returns some key pieces to their roster, including Josua Vici and Sam Windsor, as well as adding some new faces to the lineup, such as Santiago Arata. Austin, meanwhile, will welcome the ‘Cats to their new home for 2019, Dell Diamond.

A rebranded Toronto squad makes their official MLR debut on the road against NOLA, who are looking to take the next step after finishing middle of the pack last year. A win in week one could mean a huge step in the right direction for both teams as they begin the march towards June.

RUNY is looking to put the league on notice, and what better way to do that than by toppling a 2018 playoff team in week one? After having loaned out a plethora of players to other teams the year before, it will be interesting to see how this New York squads responds with a full schedule now sitting hot and ready on the table for them.

Week 2 (2/1-2/2):
Utah @ Austin
Glendale @ NOLA
Seattle @ San Diego
After a pretty quiet offseason, Utah travels to the Lone Star State to make their season debut against The Elite. After missing the playoffs last season, both of these teams will be looking to get a leg up on the other when it comes to the head to head later in the year.

Week 3 (2/8-2/10):
Toronto @ Austin
Houston @ San Diego
Seattle @ NOLA

Week 4 (2/16-2/17):
Utah @ San Diego
Glendale @ Austin
Toronto @ Seattle

Week 5 (2/22-2/24):
Toronto @ Houston
San Diego @ Austin
Glendale @ Utah
RUNY @ Seattle
Austin enjoys their fifth straight home game against San Diego before a long awaited bye-week. Houston, meanwhile, welcomes MLR competition to Aveva Stadium for the first time ever.

Week 6 (3/2):
RUNY @ Houston
Toronto @ Glendale
NOLA @ Utah

Week 7 (3/9-3/10):
Austin @ Glendale
RUNY @ Utah
Houston @ Seattle
Toronto @ San Diego

Week 8 (3/15-3/16):
Toronto @ RUNY
Seattle @ Austin
San Diego @ Glendale
NOLA @ Houston

Week 9 (3/23-3/24):
Austin @ NOLA
Utah @ Houston
Glendale @ RUNY
By this point of the season, the playoff picture will be hazy, but clearer than it was at any other point. Thus, the dash for final places in the standings will be heating up. RUNY and Glendale, two teams likely to be contenders in 2019, lock horns in an attempt to get a step ahead of the other.

Week 10 (3/30-3/31): 
RUNY @ Austin
NOLA @ Glendale
Toronto @ Utah
San Diego @ Seattle

Week 11 (4/5-4/7):
Seattle @ Utah
Houston @ Glendale
NOLA @ Toronto
Austin @ San Diego

Week 12 (4/12-4/14):
Seattle @ Houston
Utah @ NOLA
San Diego @ RUNY
Austin @ Toronto

Week 13 (4/20-4/21):
Utah @ RUNY
Houston @ Toronto
Glendale @ San Diego
NOLA @ Seattle

Week 14 (4/26-4/28):
RUNY @ Glendale
San Diego @ Houston
Austin @ Utah
Seattle @ Toronto

Week 15 (5/4-5/5):
NOLA @ Austin
Utah @ Glendale
San Diego @ Toronto
Houston @ RUNY

Week 16 (5/11-5/12):
San Diego @ NOLA
Glendale @ Houston
Seattle @ RUNY
Utah @ Toronto

Week 17 (5/18-5/19):
Houston @ NOLA
Seattle @ Glendale
San Diego @ Utah
Austin @ RUNY

Week 18 (5/25-5/26):
Austin @ Houston
Glendale @ Toronto
Utah @ Seattle

Week 19 (6/1-6/2):
Houston @ Utah
NOLA @ San Diego
RUNY @ Toronto
Austin @ Seattle
Depending how the rest of the season plays out, the final week could either be a flurry of consolation games before the post-season, or a do or die, win and in bonanza. Here’s hoping it’s the latter. Seattle and RUNY are likely to have playoff spots locked up by this point, but there will likely be teams playing desperately for a shot at an extended season, especially, NOLA and Toronto. The Championship Series follows week 19 play.

~Liam Madigan-Fried

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