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.

I saw an interesting piece on Amanda Windsor White, president of Rugby ATL, in Front Office Sports on Monday.

Here are some interesting bullet points from the article:

  • The league has collectively attracted over $100 million in investments, according to White.
  • The annual average cost of operating a franchise is between $4 million and $6 million. Some of the 13 teams have already broken even.
  • The expansion fee for a new team is $10 million.

It’s cool to see this information out there. This is the stuff that fans have been wanting to get their hands on for a while but it’s hard to get to the money.

I’m still interested in some of the details behind the numbers. Have those $100 million in investments occurred over the course of the entire history of the league? Which teams have broken even? Why haven’t others been able to break even?

The league has done a good job of increasing the transparency thus far this season with the implementation of their trade and disciplinary wires. I’d expect to see more and more of this stuff slip out as the league marches on.

Now let’s get to the Grab Bag!

Rugby ATL

Speaking of Rugby ATL, how good have they looked through five weeks of play?

The Rattlers had plenty of reasons as to why they could’ve struggled out of the gate.

Just prior to opening weekend, Rugby ATL announced that Jeremy Misailegalu’s contract was terminated following an investigation by the MLR for an alleged violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.

The same day that the club announced that there was an ongoing investigation involving a player that turned out to be Misailegalu, they also announced that they had parted ways with head coach Scott Lawrence.

Lawrence and Misailegalu both played big parts in Rugby ATL’s success in 2021. For last year’s Eastern Conference champions, losing those pieces just before the beginning of the season could’ve made for a disastrous start to the season.

That has not been the case at all.

The first order of business was to hire their next head coach. That change came from within, as attack coach Steve Brett took over the reins while Blake Bradford assumed the position of assistant head coach after serving as the team’s forwards and defense coach.

I believe those internal hires are what have allowed Atlanta to pick up where they left off in 2021. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference and most recently beat the hottest team in the MLR when they knocked off the Gilgronis in Round 6.

It’s a long season, but Atlanta is in the driver’s seat and they mean business.

Stats

This came across the ol’ Twitter timeline today from DNVR Rugby podcast guest James Deeley and it made me appreciate how much former Seattle Seawolves winger filled up the stat sheet in his two seasons with the team.

Brock Staller scored a whopping 223 points in 2019 – his last year in the competition. For reference, Sam Windsor scored 103 in the inaugural season, and Dan Hollinshead scored 111 in 2021. Brock Staller scored more in one season than the last two leading scorers have COMBINED!

I took a trip to Seattle to watch the Seawolves play the NOLA Gold in 2019 as Staller was lighting the league on fire. Here is what he told me about scoring points:

“It’s kind of in my job description to score points. I am a back three player and I’m a kicker as well. I should be up there if I’m playing well. I’m not too concerned about the point totals, to be honest. Honestly, I just want our team to win and play well and that’s what makes me the happiest. To see the forwards maul over a try or see one of the other backs making a break, that’s what get’s me excited because it’s another opportunity to score points as well.”

He was certainly playing well that season. That’s for sure.

Try of the Week

This sequence in the Houston SaberCats – Seattle Seawolves match this weekend was awesome.

I could taste my lungs just watching that clip.

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @DNVR Rugby.

Colton Strickler
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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