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.
The 2022 Major League Playoffs are set!
Well, kind of.
Round 17 revealed the six teams that will have the opportunity to duke it out for the championship shield, now we just need to determine the routes that teams will have to take to get to it.
In the West, we will see two teams from Texas in the Austin Gilgronis and the Houston SaberCats try to beat out last year’s reigning champion LA Giltinis for the chance to represent the conference in the final.
On the other side of the bracket, we will see the New England Free Jacks, Rugby ATL, and Rugby New York will try to become the first team from the East to claim the title of MLR champions.
All that’s left before playoff rugby gets rolling is the seeding, and all of that will be worked out in the final week of Major League Rugby’s 2022 regular season.
Now let’s get into the Grab Bag!
The 2022 Major League Rugby playoffs will feature three teams that have never been there before. The Austin Gilgronis, the Houston SaberCats, and the New England Free Jacks will all make their playoff debuts when the tournament gets started on June 12, while the three other teams bring with them invaluable playoff experience.
Rugby ATL will make its second trip to the postseason in as many seasons, and they know better than any other teams in the East what it will take to bring home the shield since they just lost to the LA Giltinis in the 2021 MLR Final.
Rugby New York has made the postseason in every season since they joined the competition, but have not yet played in an MLR Final. They’ve been as close as a team can be to getting out of the semifinals, though, as three points have been the difference between them and a trip to the championship match. In 2019, New York fell to the San Diego Legion 24-22 after San Diego scored a last-minute try and Joe Pietersen nailed a conversion to steal the match at the horn. In 2021, New York lost 10-9 to Rugby ATL in a defensive battle.
As the playoffs draw closer, the reigning champion LA Giltinis have placed themselves in a prime position to become the league’s second back-to-back champion. If they take care of business and defeat the Seawolves in Round 18, the Giltinis will lock up the top spot and secure a first-round bye as they wait for one of the Texas teams to meet them in the Western Conference Final.
Hit of the Week
I have to restrain myself from posting every big hit that occurs when the ball carrier is the hammer instead of the nail, but I had to include this one this week.
When you line up on the wing against Paula Balekana – you know you're in a for a painful day ? @nefreejacks ? #Rugby #MLR pic.twitter.com/vqJj12hAFc
— The Rugby Network (@therugbynetwork) May 31, 2022
Try of the Week
Who doesn’t love a good kick and chase try? it’s even better when defense turns into instant offense. The game simply turns into a footrace between two people, and the winner is often time the one that wants the ball more than the other person.
What's not to love about a Ma'a Nonu intercept and kick ahead to set Ryan Matyas? Nothing at all. @SDLegion @usmlr #MLR2022 pic.twitter.com/9I5s2DbrTt
— The Rugby Network (@therugbynetwork) May 29, 2022
60 minutes into a match and you take off on a dead sprint to score a try and get your team back into the match. That’s heart.
Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @DNVR Rugby.