Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Major League Rugby Playoffs Potentials

The top six clubs in the standings right now got shots at extra time come full time in the season.

The road to the playoffs, it’s been said, begins with the next game and that’s way true for Glendale and Toronto, a brace of XVs who are just now out of the playoff frame. The pair absolutely control their own destinies, but those fates must be fruitful and full of victories.

As the last five weeks of the 2019 Major League Rugby season unfold, thus a quartet of knockout clubs will be determined. Top four in the standings at the end of the day on June 2 go to the playoffs, a semifinal round on Saturday, the RugbyDay, June 8, at the higher ranked team.

Current frontrunners, San Diego Legion, have three of their final four fixtures on the road, but they’re one of the best on the trot, having only drawn with Glendale and besting all others. So they’re looking like top-four material just now with a nuts-and-bolts derby in York Stadium v must-win Arrows upcoming, and then they’re on the march at NOLA, who’re right on their nape right now. Then it’s a probable win at Utah (maybe not!), and a master blaster at home v NOLA, who may turn out to be the full-on Legion nemesis yet.

The aforementioned NOLA are a good bet to make extra time with three home matches before finishing away at New York and San Diego. Gold have only lost once at home and that was a clipper v New York United. Two of NOLA Gold’s losses have come on the road, but they’ve been to contenders Seattle and Glendale each by a point, though those losses have come from two of their last four matches, which may indicate issues yet. Gold were on the bye last weekend, so they’ll be primed and powdered for their last handful.

You may expect to see a pack of aquatic wolves in the best four; Seattle have a rest this weekend and then crucial away fixtures at New York and Glendale before finishing up their campaign hosting Utah and Austin. ‘Wolves are 50-50 on the trot and only lost to the Legion at home, so even if they go 2-2 they’ll most likely wind up with the necessary table points to reach the 50s, which would get them to a June 8th semi.

New York, currently fourth-placed, are favored to take the league. All May matches are in the Big Apple, where they’ve only lost once to frontrunning Legion, then they finish at Toronto first weekend in June. It is highly likely that United will win their home fixtures v Houston and Austin, probably with the bonus point, and they’ve got a good shot at completing the double over NOLA. New York lost to Seattle to open their campaign in February and should like to reply in kind when the clubs square off at the MCU on Coney Island, May 11th.

Regarding Glendale and Toronto, there is no one to blame for their current placements just off the extra-time pace, but if they’re looking for a happy ending to their 2019 runs, each must win out, preferably with all bonus-points and that’s impossible as they play one another at the end of May, oy vay!

Regards Utah, Houston and Austin: the trio are out of the playoff frame, but that is not to say they’ve nothing left to play for... Queen, Country and above all, Contract - there being no quit in any aspect of the MLR. A spoiler role is not what any of the threesome would have set out for in 2019, but it could be one that they might yet well-relish.

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