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Major League Rugby Season 2 Quick Primer


The start of season two of Major League Rugby is just around the corner. We've got new teams, new signings, a new coach, and more. So let's jump into it.

Where to Watch

MLR will have a game of the week shown on CBS Sports Network (also available in Canada). Other games will be shown on ESPN+, ESPN's OTT service, and regional sports networks. International fans can watch on Facebook. And replays should be posted to YouTube.

The Front Runners

Glendale RaptorsInfinity Park, Glendale, Colorado (5,000)
Head Coach - David Williams

The Glendale Raptors were the team to beat during the season last year, earning the first seed in the MLR playoffs. Eventually, the Raptors lost to the Seattle Seawolves in the final. Glendale's preseason included wins over San Diego and Houston. Coach Williams has brought in new players and adjusted Glendale's training schedule this offseason as the Raptors look to rebound after a disappointing performance in last year's final and reclaim their title as one of America's premier clubs.

Key Losses - Sam Figg, Dylan Fawsitt, Ben Landry, Bryce Campbell, John Quill

Key Additions - Noah Barker, Chad Gough, Marco Fepulea'i, Brendan Daly, Hanco Germishuys, Malon Al-Jiboori, Dylan Taikato-Simpson

Seattle SeawolvesStarfire Stadium, Seattle, Washington (4,500)
Head Coach - Anton Moolman

The Seawolves came out of nowhere last season. Many expected them to finish last. Especially considering the fact that Phil Mack was acting head coach when their head coach couldn't get a visa. There wasn't much info coming from Seattle, so quiet equaled low expectations last year. This year the Seawolves have the target on their back. They didn't lose much and gained a couple of good players. The Seawolves will be ready to take on all comers this season.

Key Losses - Peter Smith, Ray Barkwill

Key Additions - Ben Cima, Stephan Coetzee, Djustice Sears-Duru, JP Smith, Apisai Naikatini

Middle of the Pack

Austin EliteDell Diamond, Round Rock, Texas (11,631)
Head Coach - Alain Hyardet

Austin Elite Rugby got off to a quiet start last year. They lost their first two matches by double digits, but responded by finishing the year 3-3 in their next six games. Austin has had a quiet offseason outside of player announcements as they had one pre-season match against Houston. Austin will be chomping at the bit to get some game action and prove themselves better than last year.

Key Losses - Hanco Germishuys, Pedrie Wannenburg,Victor Comptat, Paddy Ryan

Key Additions - Josh Larsen, Travis Larsen, Juan Echeverría, Sebastián Kalm, Rodrigo Silva, Peni Tagive

NOLA GoldEagle Athletic Facility, Marrero, Louisiana (3,000)
Head Coach - Nate Osborne

NOLA had some terrible luck come their way last season. Their home field looked terrible after being built right before the season and they had a couple key season ending injuries in the early part of the season. But coach Osborne looks to have the Gold on the right track this offseason. The Gold have only given up 10 points to club teams in their four preseason contests. Expect the Gold to show up locked and loaded this season.

Key Losses - Matt Hughston, Sebastián Kalm, Myles McQuone, Matt Wirken

Key Additions - Kyle Baillie, Tristan Blewitt, Cam Dolan, Ignacio Dotti, Con Foley, Kane Thompson

San Diego LegionTorero Stadium, San Diego, California (6,000)
Head Coach - Rob Hoadley

San Diego was one of the better teams in the league last year. They actually surprised many people with how they finished as they were considered one of the weaker teams coming into the season and many thought they were proven right the first week of the season. But the Legion came back and finished strong. This season the Legion have brought in former Scotland international Scott Murray as forwards coach and made some key signings to improve their weak points. Watch for the Legion to spoil some team's day during the season.

Key Losses - Malon Al-Jiboori, Ben Cima, Cam Dolan, Tadhg Leader, Pat O'Toole, Anthony Salaber, Dolph Botha

Key Additions - Conor Kearns, Dean Muir, Kapeli Pifeleti, Paddy Ryan, Matt Sandell, Jasa Veramalua

The New Kids on The Block

Rugby United New YorkMCU Park, Brooklyn, New York (7,000)
Head Coach - Mike Tolkin

RUNY are one of the new kids on the block this year. So while we don't have anything to base them off this season, they can only go up from here. They've made some great signings, including a big splash with the signing of Ben Foden. RUNY has looked dangerous in their preseason matchups including a win against future MLR member New England. Expect RUNY to fight their way towards the top this season.

Key Losses - N/a (first season in the league)

Key Additions - Ben Foden, Dylan Fawsitt, Matt Hughston, Will Leonard, Cathal Marsh, James Rochford, Paddy Ryan, Kyle Sumsion

Toronto ArrowsYork Lions Stadium (3,700) & Lamport Stadium (9,600), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Head Coach - Chris Silverthorn

The Arrows have been around for a while before officially becoming a member of Major League Rugby. They've played exhibition matches against MLR members in the past. This season, the Arrows are bringing an experience squad of rugby players with many members of the roster having earned Canadian caps. The Arrows were also able to coax John Moonlight out of retirement to play part time with them. Expect the Arrows to make a big splash this season.

Key Losses - Djustice Sears-Duru

Key Additions - Gastón Mieres, Morgan Mitchell, Sam Malcom, Dan Moor, Landro Leivas, Jack Nay (on loan from Saracens), John Moonlight

The Back of the Pack

Houston SaberCats - Aveva Stadium, Houston, Texas (4,000)
Head Coach - Justin Fitzpatrick

The Houston SaberCats were expected to be a top team heading into last season. They arrived with a lot of fan fare, they announced a lot of great signings, and had a top pre-season. However, that all came crashing down as they only won one game all season. Coach Fitzpatrick has brought in new signings and new coaches to help improve the team. The pre-season has left a lot to be desired though after beating two clubs teams and then losing to Austin and Glendale. If Houston isn't careful, they could end up with the wooden spoon again.

Key Losses - Justin Allen, Diego Maquieira, Lindsey Stevens, Kyle Sumsion

Key Additions - Santiago Arata, Victor Comptat, Charlie Connolly, Jason Harris-Wright, Diego Magno, Alejandro Nieto, Pat O'Toole, Ayron Schramm

Utah Warriors - Zions Bank Stadium, Herriman, Utah (5,000)
Head Coach - Alf Daniels

The Utah Warriors finished last season right about where they were expected to. However it was a disappointing season for the Warriors as they finished below .500 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. This season has been a quiet one for the Warriors. The team hasn't officially announced their new signings, but they have announced new coaches. Utah has also implemented a new offseason conditioning program that the players already love to hate. Until we know more about the Warriors, it's hard to stay what's going to happen with them this season.

Key Losses - Paul Lasike, Kurt Morath, David Tameliau

Key Additions - Jake Christmann, Gannon Moore, Josh Reeves, Ian Luciano

Playoff Predictions

Glendale and Seattle will remain strong and get back into the playoffs. RUNY and Toronto will plant their flags in the league and make their way to the playoffs.

Playoffs (Home team listed first)
Seattle vs RUNY
Toronto vs Glendale

The Future

Atlanta, DC, and the New England Free Jacks are all confirmed to join the league in the 2020 season. Whether the league expands further or stays pat for a couple of years remain to be seen as there are rumors out there of groups wanting to bring MLR to their cities.

When 2020 rolls around, the league will be split six & six between East & West, so we could potentially see a conference system implemented. With the addition of three more teams, the playoffs could see expansion as well.

~Josh Fredlund