The Colorado Raptors have not kicked off the 2020 Major League Rugby season the way they would’ve liked.
From afar, the optics aren’t great.
As they head into their Round 4 matchup against the Utah Warriors, the Raptors sit at 0-3 (0-2 WC) and 12th place in the table.
That’s not where the Raptors want to be, but it has been apparent as the season has progressed that Colorado is heading in the right direction on the pitch. The flashes have been there, and if this is the week they are able to put it all together, the Raptors could make up some serious ground in the standings with the Warriors (1-1-1, 0-0-1 WC) coming to town.
As their record states, the Warriors have kind of been all over the place through the first three weeks of the season. They started off by dropping their Round 1 match 28-19 to Rugby ATL, then went on to knockoff the New England Free Jacks 39-32 in Las Vegas, and then played the Austin Gilgronis to a 20-20 draw in Round 3.
While serving as the home team for their match against the Free Jacks in Las Vegas, the Warriors have yet to play a match at home and they won’t until they host the NOLA Gold in Round 6.
To sit at 1-1-1 through Round 3 while playing all of your matches on the road is a scenario that just about any coach would be happy with.
The Warriors will be the fourth of the original seven MLR teams that the Raptors will face in as many weeks. Not counting preseason matches, Saturday’s match will serve as the fifth meeting all-time between these two clubs. The four meetings consist of three regular-season matches and one postseason match, and the Raptors own a 3-0-1 record of the Warriors.
Colorado knocked Utah off twice in the inaugural season, defeating them 36-29 on the road in May 2018 and then again 34-21 at Infinity Park in June in the semifinal round to advance to the MLR Championship.
In their first meeting of 2019, the Raptors battled back from a 16-0 deficit at halftime to come away with a 26-26 draw on the road in February before handing the Warriors a 64-22 victory over the Warriors in May. Those 64 points are the most the Raptors have scored in a single game since joining the MLR in 2018. It is also the last match the Raptors won.
Robbie Petzer, who will be in the Raptors starting lineup on Saturday afternoon, took home MLR Player of the Week after carrying the ball six times for 102 meters and three tries. He also went 9-for-10 off the tee to finish with an astonishing 34 points in the match. The Raptors could use a little of that Petzer magic again on Saturday.
Helping lead the Warriors into Infinity Park on Saturday afternoon will be fly-half Hagen Schulte, who leads the MLR in points scored after three weeks with 43. Schulte, who is incredibly dangerous off the tee, could be trouble for the Raptors as they have had an issue conceding penalties to teams that have been able to cash them in for easy points through their first three matches of the season.
Team’s playoff fates are not decided in the first month of the season, but the results in the first quarter can go a long way as the season winds down and that’s what makes Colorado’s clash with the Warriors so important. Depending on the outcome of the match and the results around the league, the Raptors could wake up in a playoff spot on Monday morning if they take care of business.
If they don’t, that hole that they find themselves in will be a bit deeper and the window to climb out of it will be a little bit smaller.
The Raptors and Warriors are set to kick off at 4 PM MST at Infinity Park. The match will be broadcast on ColoradoRaptors.com.