If there is one thing that is certain after the first five weeks of the 2021 Major League Rugby season it’s that every weekend is going to be filled with unpredictable results.
Look no further than Round 5. The weekend started with some early morning rugby between the Seattle Seawolves and the Toronto Arrows down in Georgia. The Seawolves, who picked up their first win in Round 4 over the Utah Warriors, were looking to make it two in a row as they try to claw their way out of the bottom of the table. They travelled east to take on an Arrows team that also finds themselves at the bottom of the table after a funky start to the season. Because Life University – Toronto’s home for the time being – had to move the match around to comply with local COVID restrictions, the match took place at 10:30 AM Eastern. That means the Seawolves had to travel and play a match at what would be 7:30 AM Pacific for them.
While the time change certainly didn’t do the Seawolves any favors, the Arrows put it on Seattle. They took a comfortable 24-0 lead into the half and didn’t let up. The Arrows walked away with a 52-7 victory when the dust settled. With that performance, the Arrows picked up their second victory in three weeks and moved into seventh place despite having to set up shop in Atlanta until COVID calms down. While the season is still young and the Seawolves have yet to play a home match in 2021, they will need to get the train back on the tracks in a hurry if they want to have any chance at defending their title.
One trend that’s proven true throughout the first five rounds of the competition has been that several matches each weekend have been decided by razor-thin margins. Four of the six matches in Round 5 were decided by four points or less. The team that is the outlier in this trend is the Los Angeles Giltinis. The Giltinis continued their campaign as the best team in the competition with their fourth consecutive victory after defeating the Houston SaberCats 48-35 on the road in Round 5. While the match was closer than the score indicated, they still won by 13 points. Believe it or not, that is their smallest margin of victory through the first four matches. That’s why they sit atop the table as the halfway point of the season creeps closer.
In the Eastern Conference, the first match of the weekend took place down in New Orleans as the Gold welcomed the New England Free Jacks to a rain-soaked Gold Mine on Airline. The Gold and the Free Jacks wrestled with each other in the mud in what turned out to be a one-point thriller with NOLA escaping with a 30-29 victory. That win put the Gold in fourth place in the table and second place in the Eastern Conference through their first four games.
At the same time the Giltinis were taking care of the SaberCats over in Houston, the Gilgronis were locked in a tight one with Rugby ATL over in Austin. It came down to a penalty goal at the horn, but for the first time in the history of their organization, Austin is on a three-match winning streak. They’ll have the chance to make it four in a row when the struggling Seawolves come to town in Round 6.
Just before the two nightcaps kicked off in Texas, the Utah Warriors were trying to put an end to their two-game losing streak on the road against the San Diego Legion. San Diego put together a solid performance in what was a highly competitive match and put the Warriors away 31-29 in what served as their return to California. After winning their first two matches of the season, the Warriors have skidded to a 2-3 start. All of the matches they have played in with the exception of their 15-point victory over the Arrows have been decided by five points or less, which is an encouraging sign if you are a Warriors fan. Those close matches have kept them in the mix despite the mounting losses.
The final match of the weekend was an Eastern Conference showdown that saw Rugby United New York defeat Old Glory D.C. 38-34 in their first home match of the season. While Old Glory continues to find their footing, the Rugby United New York used the victory to propel themselves into the top seed of the Eastern Conference and third place in the table overall. They’ll need a big performance against the Arrows to keep up with the Gils in Austin and Los Angeles while Old Glory will try to get back on track against a Free Jacks team that will be looking to avenge their one-point loss from Round 5.