Major League Rugby’s third round of action was a little lighter than the first two.
With the league-leading Los Angeles Giltinis and the defending champion Seattle Seawolves on a bye in the Western Conference and Rugby United New York and NOLA Gold on a bye in the Eastern Conference, the other eight teams that make up the competition battled it out on Easter weekend.
The first match of the weekend took place up in Weymouth, Massachusetts between the Utah Warriors and the New England Free Jacks. The Warriors went into Round 3 in second place in the overall table after wins over the Austin Gilgronis and Toronto Arrows in their first two rounds. Waiting for the Warriors were the Free Jacks, who just put a 32-0 beatdown on the Houston SaberCats the week earlier. Saturday’s match wasn’t just New England’s first home match of the 2021 season, it was their first home match ever. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Free Jacks didn’t get to play a match on their home grounds in 2020. New England capitalized on the opportunity to finally play at home and even though the Warriors gave them quite the scare, the Free Jacks held on for a 22-21 victory. Even with the loss, the Warriors moved into first place in the table while the now second place Giltinis were enjoying an off weekend.
The second match of Round 3 saw the Toronto Arrows travel up to the nation’s capital in search of their first win of the season. Old Glory D.C. came off a solid 30-23 victory over Rugby ATL a week earlier and was ready to make it two in a row on Saturday. The Arrows had other plans. They wasted no time getting things started, and held a comfortable 12-0 lead before the first 15 minutes of the match had already passed. They hit a beautiful drop goal as the first half expired to take a 15-7 lead into the sheds. When the dust finally settled, the Arrows had exploded for a 40-19 victory over Old Glory to finally secure that elusive first win. The victory improved Toronto’s record to 1-2 while Old Glory D.C. dropped to 1-1-1 as they continue to find their footing in 2021.
Another team still trying to figure out where they stand in 2021 is the San Diego Legion. The league’s hottest team in 2020 hasn’t started the 2021 season on the same foot. Heading into Round 3, San Diego was looking to string together two consecutive wins when they travel to Atlanta to take on Rugby ATL. Unfortunately for the Legion, they ran into an Atlanta team that wasn’t messing around on Saturday. Atlanta used a 41-22 victory to pick up their second win of the season and move into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference and third in the overall table.
The final match of the weekend took place in Austin as the Gilgronis and the Houston SaberCats squared off for the Texas Cup. After defeating Houston 24-20 to claim the cup in 2020, Austin was ready to defend the hardware and pick up their first win of the young season in the process. That’s exactly what they did. Houston had no answer for a Gilgronis team that handed the SaberCats a 26-0 loss and their second consecutive shutout in as many weeks. After a strong 30-24 victory over the Seawolves in the opening round, Houston hasn’t scored a single point. They’ll have the chance to get that taste out of their mouth next weekend when they take on the Legion while Austin will look to make it two in a row against a rested NOLA Gold team.