Welcome to the Major League Rugby Grab Bag where I highlight some of the best things I’ve seen from around the league every week.

Be honest.

Did you watch the Pro Bowl this weekend? Why would you do that?

Since we are being honest, I watched a quarter of the Pro Bowl too to kill some time before the opening weekend of Major League Rugby’s fifth season continued on Sunday afternoon. I saw the two-hand touch contest, threw a few bucks on the over, then I went to work in the garage until the Utah Warriors took on the San Diego Legion at 3 PM.

I’m not unlike a majority of sports fans in the United States. I love football. I grew up loving football. I watched more football in 2021 than I ever have. It’s awesome. But I have also grown to love rugby. I caught the bug in high school, and my springs have been dominated by rugby ever since. I know that if the same people that love football were to give rugby a try, they’d catch the bug too.

I’m going to try to highlight some of the best parts of the sport every week in this piece. I’ve spent the last two (one and a half) seasons writing weekly recaps of the matches, but I’m going to take a different approach to cover the MLR in 2022. I’m going to write about the fun stuff. I’m going to write about the cool stuff. I’m going to write about the stuff that makes rugby awesome so that hopefully more people fall in love with this great game. I want this piece to be fun because sports – especially rugby – are supposed to be fun.

Nothing is more fun than watching Utah’s mascot rip across the pitch on a motorcycle just before an Austin player kicks a conversion. That was one of my favorite moments of the 2021 season.

The components of this piece may change, but I’ll have a piece out every Monday highlighting some of the best moments of the week.

Team of the Week

Knocking off the defending MLR champions in the opening week of the season is enough to secure the DNVR Rugby Team of the Week nod. For those unfamiliar with the LA Giltinis, they joined the MLR in 2021 took the league by storm in their first season on the way to securing last year’s championship shield. When a team makes that big of a splash, they’re bound to get every team’s best shot. Houston rose to the occasion and handed the Giltinis their first loss in their first opportunity. For reference, the Giltinis didn’t lose a match until Round 8 in 2021. The new-look Houston SaberCats have already made quite the statement.

You Love To See It

The Dallas Jackals made their long-awaited debut on Saturday against the Austin Gilgronis. The result wasn’t what the Jackals were looking for, but their first-ever try – scored by American Raptor Campbell Johnstone – was a beauty.

What makes the try even better is knowing Johnstone’s path to the Jackals. He was originally supposed to link up with the Jackals in 2021, but when they withdrew from the competition ahead of the season he became a man without a team. After playing with the Colorado Raptors in 2020, he was scooped up by the Jackals in the expansion draft after the Raptors made the decision to withdraw from Major League Rugby. When the Jackals didn’t launch in 2021, Johnstone gave his friends at Glendale a call and came back to help get their crossover initiative off the ground. As the only true rugby player on the Colorado XOs’ roster at the beginning of the experiment, Johnstone’s experience and ability was invaluable to the team of newcomers. He served as the American Raptors’ vice-captain through the fall and was instrumental in the success that the team experienced on their tour to Uruguay. It’s great to see Johnstone etch his name into Jackals’ history by jumping on their first try.

This Is Rugby

I wish the quality was a little better, but Christian Dyer’s face is rugby in this screenshot. He’s bloody, but he’s celebrating with his teammates after their big win. After this, he shook hands with his opponents. That’s rugby.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Author

Colton Strickler is a Colorado guy through and through. He is a Wheat Ridge Farmer and a Colorado State Ram. He has been involved in the Colorado rugby community in some capacity since 2011. He was Major League Rugby's lead writer in 2018 and 2019 before joining DNVR Rugby.

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