With only eight teams in action over the Fourth of July weekend, Major League Rugby’s Round 16 slate was a little lighter than usual. Two fewer matches didn’t mean there was any less action, though as Round 16 was packed full of meaningful upsets across the board.
The weekend started with a match between two of Major League Rugby’s proudest franchises in the Seattle Seawolves and the San Diego Legion. While the Seawolves and Legion aren’t vying for a playoff spot in 2021, the San Diego – Seattle rivalry remains one of the healthiest rivalries in the competition. Seattle took the first meeting of the year between the two clubs 21-15 back in May – which just so happened to be the last match that Seattle won – but it was the Legion that got even on Saturday afternoon.
San Diego picked up a 34-21 victory over Seattle on Saturday to hand the Seawolves their 12th loss of the season. San Diego improved to 6-9 on the season and will have the chance to end their year on a high note when they take on Old Glory D.C. in Round 17. The Seawolves will try to put an end to their seven-match losing streak on Sunday when they take on a surging NOLA Gold team that has their eye on their first-ever playoff berth.
The first upset of the weekend came on Saturday afternoon when the New England Free Jacks defeated Rugby United New York 22-6. The loss – combined with the result of the Giltinis and NOLA Gold match on Sunday evening – bumped RUNY out of the second playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It also kept New England’s playoff hopes alive. While several different things will have to go right for the Free Jacks to sneak in, a path to the playoffs still exists for them. What will likely happen, though, is the regular-season finale between NOLA and New York will be a win-and-you’re-in scenario. Both teams will have to take care of the last-place teams in the Western Conference when RUNY plays the Houston SaberCats and NOLA plays the Seattle Seawolves in Round 17 before they face each other to close the season.
The third match of the weekend saw the Toronto Arrows knock off Old Glory D.C. in a match that didn’t have any playoff implications but was surely important to the teams on the pitch. The 34-28 victory put an end to Toronto’s five-match losing streak and kept Old Glory’s five-match losing streak alive. Both of the team’s last wins came against the Houston SaberCats. Toronto will have their hands full in their final match of the season as they take on a desperate New England Free Jacks team while Old Glory D.C. will try to put an end to their losing streak against the San Diego Legion.
The biggest match of the weekend took place in Southern California between the NOLA Gold and the league-leading Los Angeles Giltinis. NOLA received a gist from the rugby universe earlier in the weekend with RUNY’s loss to New England and capitalized on it in a big way by handing the Giltinis their first home loss in what was the biggest upset of the season and quite possibly the history of the competition. The 21-20 victory moved NOLA into the second playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and while it sets up the possibility for a monster season finale between RUNY and NOLA, it also leaves the door open for a very meaningful season finale between the second-place Utah Warriors and the Giltinis for home-field advantage in the Western Conference. Los Angeles will have a tough test against the Austin Gilgronis while NOLA will take on the Seattle Seawolves in Round 17.