Thursday, February 6, 2020

Major League kicks 3rd Season on the Upcomer

2020 Major League Rugby - Mountain Clubs: Colorado, Utah
MLR kicks on the upcomer with both XVs from the Rocky Mountain Region on the trot; Colorado Raptors, who placed sixth in the nine-team league last season are in Houston versus SabreCats, who were seventh-placed finishers last season, on Saturday while Utah Warriors, who charted eighth last year, travel to Atlanta for a test against newly-minted franchise, Rugby ATL.
Raptors placed first in the league’s inaugural season only to lose in the title game in 2018 to the MLR’s sole champion thus far, Seattle SeaWolves. Raptors added international stars, Digby Ioane and Rene Ranger, to the roster though those fellows may serve as 60-minute men rather than starters. South African-born standoff, Robbie Petzer, can keep the scoreboard turning over, but the aerial predators must implement a better containment strategy as they were cumulatively outscored last year, losing a pair of matches by less than five points and drawing once; wins in those games would have earned them a post-season berth. The onus will be on the backrowmen and midfielders to apply stoppage in order for the “second responders” to arrive at that breakdown and provide turnover ball for a capable backline featuring former Colorado Springs high school Grizzlies standout, Seth Halliman. If the Raptors defense provides pill, the potent Raptors offense that boasts 2019’s top scoring flyer John Ryberg on the wing-threequarters, will perform. Expect a middle of the chart outcome for Colorado this year, lest the close losses are claimed as victories, then extra-time is a definite possibility.
Colorado and Houston split their home-away competition in 2019 with Raptors losing by 15 in Texas. Birds’ll look to switch that record up on the weekend, but ‘Cats are hungry: should be a blinder!
Utah for their measure, fronts a slew of hometown talent with perennial nation high school champion contenders, United and Highland RFCs, rostering six players: the Whippy brothers, Josh and Jared, who play in the midfield and back-three backs, engine Matt Jensen and backrowman Arawa Elkington; while Men’s Division 2 powerhouse, Park City Haggis, post a pair in 8man John Cullen, and Zimbabwean native Joe Nicholls at the pivot; and Utah’s Kau Toa Youth RFC supplying 19-years old fast-mover, Nolan Tuamoheloa. Like the Raptors, Utah need to shore up a defense that allowed a 136-points differential last season. In addition, Warriors can count on USA Eagles and former Kansas City Blues wing Gannon Moore to ratchet up the tempo with flash and fire.
With ATL in their first season of competition, no record exists. And while the outcome of Sunday’s derby in Georgia may not determine the season, victory for the travelers will go a long way in imparting a confidence and competence that is sure to augur positively for Utah.

On the Weekend
Colorado Raptors v Houston SabreCats at Aveva Stadium, 10am MST on Saturday: LIVE watch in the TRY Club at the Stadium; doors open at 9:45am
Utah Warriors v Rugby ATL at Life University, 1pm MST on Sunday: to view the action live - link up!

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