After dropping their first match of the 2020 season 21-12 to the Houston SaberCats, the Colorado Raptors are looking to get back on track this weekend against the San Diego Legion.
Picking up a win in Round 2 will be anything but easy for the Raptors as they head to Las Vegas to take on a Legion team that dethroned the reigning champion Seattle Seawolves and sit atop the Western Conference after Round 1.
Like the SaberCats, the Legion are another team that the Raptors have some history against as they are also one of the seven original Major League Rugby teams from the inaugural season.
Sunday’s meeting between the two clubs will serve as the fifth of the regular season since 2018. With a 2-1-1 record against the Raptors, the Legion have a slight advantage in the overall series.
The fact that the match will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas could actually be a blessing for the Raptors. The Raptors have yet to win a regular or postseason match at Torero Stadium, the Legion’s home field, since the MLR began. Colorado has dropped both regular season matches that they’ve played at Torero Stadium and lost the inaugural MLR Championship to the Seattle Seawolves which was played at Torero Stadium.
The one win that the Raptors have over the Legion occurred during the first-ever meeting between the two clubs back in May 2018. The Raptors edged the Legion 31-27 at Infinity Park. The two teams met again in the final match of the 2018 regular season, and the Legion handed the Raptors their first-ever loss in the MLR when they earned a 23-5 victory at Torero Stadium.
The win helped the Legion secure the third seed in the 2018 MLR playoff, while the Raptors maintained the top seed in the tournament despite the loss. The Raptors defeated the Utah Warriors 34-21 to advance to the inaugural MLR Championship while the Legion fell 38-24 to the Seattle Seawolves.
The Legion had an incredible 2019 season. They finished the season at the top of the table after going 12-3-1, with the only draw of the season coming to the Raptors at Infinity Park in March in what was one of the better MLR matches that happened to the point of the season. The Raptors weren’t able to hold onto a 28-21 lead, and the Legion punched in a try in stoppage time to give them a shot at evening the match. Joe Pietersen hit the conversion to tie the match and the Legion escaped Infinity Park with two very valuable table points.
The Raptors then went down to San Diego for their second shot at the Legion in April and lost big. The Raptors fell 46-14, and their shot at the playoffs took a big hit.
The Legion would go on to lose 26-23 in the 2019 MLR Championship to the Seawolves. Despite coming up short in the final, several members of the Legion walked away with postseason honors.
Head coach Rob Hoadley earned 2019 Coach of the Year while prop Paddy Ryan and center J.P. du Plessis won Forward and Back of the Year, respectively. The Legion also had six players that earned first or second-team All-MLR honors in 2019.
They’ve taken their lumps and have worked their way to the top of the food chain as they enter their third season of competition and it paid off during their 33-24 season-opening victory over the Seawolves.
From top to bottom, San Diego is loaded with talent. Their big addition comes in the form of former All Black Ma’a Nonu, who had a great first showing with the Legion in the season opener.
Some players to watch for the Legion include:
- Mikey Te’o – Fullback
- Jasa Veremalua – Flanker
- Josh Furno – Lock
- Joe Pietersen – Fly-Half
- J.P. du Plessis – Outside Center
- Psalm Wooching – No. 8
Those are just a few players to watch, but the list weapons they possess goes on and on. Check out the latest episode fo the DNVR Raptors podcast to learn a little bit more about these players.
The match is scheduled for Sunday, February 16 and will kick off at 4 P.M. Mountain Time. It will be broadcast on ColoradoRaptors.com.