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MLR Week One Predictions: 2022-New Year, New Team?

 MLR Week 1 Score Predictions

By Craig Gridelli and Liam Poach

The Major League Rugby season is upon us! Craig and Liam share their weekly score predictions in week one below!

Giltinis vs Sabercats

Two teams coming off of two very different endings to the 2021 season. Los Angeles of course is coming off an MLR Championship in their inaugural season. The SaberCats, meanwhile, limped to the finish line to the tune of 2-14. 

This off-season, the Cats lost two very important pieces to their puzzle in Sam Windosr (most points scored in MLR history) and Paula Balekana (led the team in tries with six). As for LA? They’ll continue to get help from the likes of All-World athletes like Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper (the latter being the newest addition to the Tini’s coaching staff), an MLR backline stalwart in John Ryberg, and a fresh face in Hanco Germishuys who is likely to be somewhere outside the pack’s tight five.

This isn’t going to be pretty. My bold prediction on the show two weeks ago was that the Cats would finish this season with their first winning record in history. It doesn’t start in week one. 

Liam: Giltini’s over SaberCats 33-9. 

Old Glory vs Rugby ATL


Opening the season with what should be a competitive match. DC showed flashes of their potential last year, but were unable to play at the highest level consistency. The departure of Jason Robertson to France may seem, on the surface, to pose an additional challenge, but I like Mike Dabulas as a breakout player in 2022, alongside returning captain Danny Tusitala and powerhouse Jameson Fa'anana-Schultz.


 On the heels of Rugby ATL's unexpected coaching change, I expect DC to push them in this season opener. But Atlanta are still a formidable side, coming off a 2021 runner-up campaign. Playing at home, I think they'll have just enough to hold off a feisty Old Glory squad.

Craig: Atlanta by 4

Free Jacks vs Gold

Unlike LA and Houston, these teams saw two very similar finishes to the previous season. Both teams finished with ten wins, yet both of them missed the playoffs. As well, both teams made a change at Head Coach hoping that the decision would be what puts them over the top in 2022. 

Each squad is returning a number of important core players from last year, such as NOLA’s Cam Dolan, the ever-exciting Julian Dominguez Widmer (who suffered an injury last year after a great start to the season), and Carl Meyer. For New England, the try-scoring machine duo of Beaudein Waaka and Dougie Fife will look to come back in full force thanks to the holes that new addition Paula Belekana will look to open on the outside. 

This is a hard one to call. I think NOLA will show a little more grit in the red-zone, but New England’s game breaking potential on the outside is too much to ignore.

Liam: Free Jacks over Gold 21-20

Jackals vs Gilgronis


The Austin Gilgronis welcome their Lone Star brethren to MLR, and I expect it to be some tough love. Austin are building on some momentum they managed to seize last season and I like where they are headed this year. 


Dallas, who boast little in the way of top-tier international experience and who recently replaced a coach who had yet to arrive in Dallas at any rate, look set for some growing pains. I don't expect the Jackals to be a cohesive unit quite yet, and so it should be Austin who feast.

Craig: Gilgronis by 14.

Arrows vs SeaWolves

The Seattle faithful must feel like their back-to-back MLR Championship winning seasons happened in another lifetime. Since then, two disappointing seasons in a row (one of which was shortened by COVID) has this team feeling like it’s in the midst of a “rebuild”. Guys like Martin Iosefo and Matt Turner will have to really step up in order to make sure this team can remain competitive on the outside, because the inability to get much rhythm in that regard is what shut them down against many better teams last season.   

For the Arrows, the ability to play this year within their own borders should help exponentially after it became apparent that the lack of a true home base in 2021 hurt their ability to prepare and regroup after a difficult final stretch to the season saw them end the campaign at 5-11. The pack still has its own treasure chest of “War Daddies” (thank you Jerry Jones) to work with in guys like Andrew Quattrain, Mike Shepard and Lucas Rumball. Meanwhile, you may have heard of a Fly-Half named Sam Malcolm, who happens to be really good. 

I’m skeptical about what this Seattle team looks like offensively, so I’m going to go with the team that had a top five defense last year in Toronto to keep it low scoring, but ultimately victorious. 

    Liam: Arrows over Seattle 17-14. 


Warriors vs Legion


If you caught our live podcast this week, you heard me pick Utah as my preseason favorite to hoist the 2022 Shield. I think that starts this week. San Diego just don't inspire me. At least not at this point. They are heavily reliant on a handful of players who are ageing and injury prone. They won the fewest lineouts in the league last season and their scrum win percentage was middling. Utah, on the other hand, exceeded 2021 expectations. 


Shawn Pittman was MLR's 2021 coach of the year and he returns to continue building on last year's playoff appearance. If Utah can find a replacement for Hagen Schulte at fly half, they should be as dangerous as any team in the league. And whispers are that they've got some pretty compelling young options in the half backs.

Craig: Utah by 6.