Six weeks into the fourth season of Major League Rugby has gone by in a flash. With May right around the corner and the midway point of the season approaching quickly, the parity that exists within the league has been on full display. The table is reshuffled after every result because every team is within a few table points of the team directly above and below them.
The first fixture of the weekend was the perfect representation of that. The NOLA Gold traveled down to Georgia to take on Rugby ATL in a matchup that would reshuffle both teams around in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. One thing that’s been true for teams that aren’t named ‘Gil’ this season has been the inability to put together solid win streaks. Both NOLA and Rugby ATL have had hot and cold Aprils, and Saturday’s result was a perfect representation of that. One week earlier, NOLA defeated the New England Free Jacks by one point in a wet and sloppy match the week before while Atlanta lost a close one to Austin on a last-second penalty goal. Rugby ATL used Saturday as an opportunity to stop their two-game skid by defeating the Gold 38-28. The result bumped Atlanta into fifth place in the table and second in the East while NOLA fell to seventh overall and fourth in the conference.
Just in front of Rugby ATL in the standings are their roommates. Even with the deck stacked against them this season, the Arrows have rattled off two straight victories to bring their record to 3-3 and claim the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite a bit of a rocky start to the season, the Arrows have put up monster performances in back-to-back weeks. They routed Rugby United New York 53-12 on Sunday afternoon to knock RUNY down to 3-2 and into third place in the conference one week after dismantling the Seattle Seawolves 52-7. Outscoring your opponents 105-19 is a good way to get back on the horse, but they’ll have their hands full with a pesky NOLA team that is due for a win in Round 7.
Another team that is familiar with huge point differentials is the Los Angeles Giltinis. Things are all good for the team in the Coliseum, and they keep showing the world why week in and week out. They wasted no time getting the scoring started on Saturday evening against the San Diego Legion. Before the Legion could blink they were down by 21, and there wasn’t much they could do after that. The Giltinis kept their foot on the gas and defeated the Legion 45-17 to improve to a perfect 5-0 record and maintain their spot atop the table. They will host an Old Glory D.C. team that has been up and down thus far, so it’s not unfair to expect their win streak to continue in Round 7. San Diego fell to 2-4 with the loss and could use a big performance against the Free Jacks in Round 7 to get out of the funk they’ve been in to start the season.
Both the Legion and the Giltinis got a good look at their next opponents on Sunday afternoon as the Free Jacks and Old Glory squared off on Fox Sports 1. Both New England and D.C. find themselves in the basement of the Eastern Conference through Round 6, but they are certainly not out of the running by any means. New England took an early 7-0 lead in the match, but it was all Old Glory from that moment. They handed New England a 35-22 loss and moved up to claim the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with 13 table points while the Free Jacks find themselves in the sixth spot after the result.
At the same time the Giltinis and the Legion were entrenched in the battle for Southern California, the Houston SaberCats and the Warriors were squaring up in Utah in a match that produced 93 total points. The fireworks were on full display for both the SaberCats and the Warriors in a match that Utah won 50-43. Points are something you can expect when the SaberCats play, and that’s not always a good thing. While Houston has proven that they can stuff a scoreboard, they’ve also proven that they let other teams do the same thing. The loss knocked them down to 2-4 on the season and into the fifth spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors on the other hand needed a big performance to put an end to their three-game losing streak and keep pace with the ‘Gils’ after starting the season 2-0. The win bumped them into third place with 19 table points and keeps them hot on Austin’s heels.
Austin and Seattle finished off Round 6 with a Sunday evening fixture that turned out to be a memorable one for the Gilgronis. Austin put a 42-15 beatdown on the Seawolves to win their fourth-straight match and improve to 4-2 overall. Not only was that match significant for points purposes, but it was also significant for the history of the organization as well. No Austin team has ever won four matches in a season, let alone four matches in a row. They’ve managed to keep ahold of second place in the table for a few weeks now and will have a chance to extend their win streak against the 11th place Free Jacks in Round 8 after a well-deserved bye. A high point for the Gilgronis unfortunately is a low point for the Seawolves who sit at 1-4 on the season to this point. They’re in last place in the table with just six points, and they possess a -104 point differential and -14 try differential. If you look a little deeper, the Seawolves have to be concerned about the pattern they’re seeing. They are 2-8 in their last 10 matches after getting off to a 1-4 start in 2020 as well. Some reshaping of the coaching staff before last weekend’s match and playing on their home grounds for the first time all season needs to be just what the doctor ordered for the Seawolves or else they seem to be in for a long season.