Round 15 of Major League Rugy’s 2021 season is officially in the books, and with its completion, the playoff race is that much tighter.

An action-packed weekend leaves us with a clearer picture of what the league’s third playoff tournament could look like, but several scenarios remain with three weeks left in the regular season.

The first match of the weekend featured a team attempting to hang onto a playoff spot and a team looking to play the role of spoiler when Rugby United New York traveled down to Georgia to take on the Toronto Arrows. RUNY beat the Arrows 31-24 to maintain their hold on the second playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but a seven-point victory over the last-place team in the east had to be a little too close for their liking.

RUNY now must turn their attention to the New England Free Jacks in Round 16. The Free Jacks dropped a close one to NOLA Gold 17-9 on Saturday afternoon, but remain in the hunt for the second playoff spot. Unfortunately for them, that loss was a costly one as the Gold sit one spot ahead of them in the east. The Free Jacks have a tough hill to climb, but two of their last three matches will come against both playoff teams in the east. That means they will have an opportunity to climb up the table.

The NOLA Gold has perhaps the best chance to jump into one of the playoff spots as the season winds down. The Gold currently sits in third place in the east with 42 table points. NOLA is only four points behind RUNY for the second playoff spot and nine points behind the leaders in Rugby ATL. NOLA will have its hands full in Round 16 when they head west to take on the league-leading Los Angeles Giltinis. If NOLA and RUNY keep winning, the regular-season finale between the two sides could very well end up be the determining factor for a playoff spot.

The second playoff team in the Western Conference entering Round 16 is the Utah Warriors. They took care of business on Saturday evening by beating the last-place Houston SaberCats 24-5. With the win, Utah improved to 9-5 on the season and sits in second place in the west with 51 table points. The Warriors are just four points behind the Giltinis in the standings and could find themselves in first place if they beat LA in the regular-season finale. Before they get there, though, they have to fend off the Austin Gilgronis who are hot on their heels with 46 table points. They could also find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time as they have to play the leaders in both conferences to close out their season.

Austin picked up a valuable 33-14 victory over the San Diego Legion to end the Legion’s hopes for a playoff spot. Unfortunately for Austin, they’ll have to beat the Giltinis in Round 16 to keep their playoff chances alive. Fortunately for them, no team has a tougher schedule to close the season than Utah. One small slip by the Warriors could be exactly what Austin needs to slide into their first playoff appearance.

The leaders in the east took care of business with a 32-12 victory over an Old Glory D.C. team that never found their footing in 2021. Rugby ATL used the victory to maintain their grasp on the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 51 table points. They need every point they can grab as both RUNY and NOLA try to make a late push for the top seeds. Rugby ATL will close the season with two tough matches against a hungry Utah Warriors team and a desperate New England Free Jacks team that will most likely be playing for their playoff lives.

The final match of the weekend saw the Los Angeles Giltinis defeat the Seattle Seawolves 29-14 in the record Pacific Northwest heat. The Giltinis used the win to continue their reign over the Western Conference and keep their hold on the top spot in the competition with 55 table points. They close the season with matches against the Austin Gilgronis and the Utah Warriors.

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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