The inaugural season of Major League Rugby is finally over and we are now down to the final four teams battling out for the first championship in the league’s history. This was a very successful first season for MLR as it led to many big things and it shows that rugby could succeed in America. With that being said, let’s preview the 2018 MLR Playoffs.
Glendale Raptors vs Utah Warriors
Utah seemingly looked like they were down and out going into the last day of season, but with a 31-27 victory over Houston in comeback fashion. With the likes of centre Paul Lasike, who is coming back from international duty for USA, as well as the Tongan flyhalf Kurt Morath (whom is also coming back from international duty), the Warriors hope they can come out victorious.
Glendale, on the other hand, is the stronger side by a mile. The Raptors boast so much talent that they almost went the whole entire season undefeated (with some of their players playing for Team USA, it might have factored into why they couldn’t finish the season undefeated along with already having the number one seed in the playoffs locked up). With some USA Eagles players on the team like scrumhalf Shaun Davies, lock Ben Landry, hooker Dylan Fawsitt (along with the backup hooker Zach Fenoglio who is good enough to start anywhere as well), and flanker John Quill on the team, this team is deep. But even the lesser known and very talented players like wingers Harley Davidson (probably the fastest player in the league) and Seth Halliman, fullback Maximo De Achaval, centres Chad London, Bryce Campbell, and Ata Malifa, flanker Connor Cook, lock Max Dacey, props Kelepi Fifita, Blake Rogers, and Luke White, fly-halves Mika Kruse (who can excel on the wing and at centre as well) and Will Magie, and Grigor Kerdikoshvili and Sam Figg at the Number 8, they make this team incredibly deep and poised to win the championship. That’s not even the entire team as they are deep in depth which makes them even more dangerous to play. They can beat teams in a lot of different ways as they can grind out a win or even score a lot of points making it difficult for opposing defenses. Their pack is exceptional as they have one of the best scrum units in the league and very speedy and tactically sound backs. Plus they are very versatile as a good amount of their players can play many types of positions. Glendale is truly that good of a team.
James Rowe: Glendale. Utah’s best hope is that the Raptors are not playing at the best form possible like they have all season, otherwise it’s going to be a long day for the Warriors.
Seattle Seawolves vs San Diego Legion
San Diego struggled for much of the season, but they played well in the last couple of weeks by winning three straight matches to get into the playoffs and also clinching the number three seed. With the amount of talent they have, it was a shock to see them struggle at all, but regardless, they look poised to win the championship. With players on the team like scrumhalf Nate Augspurger, fly-half Ben Cima, centres Dylan Audsley and JP du Plessis, wingers Brett Thompson and Takudzwa Ngwenya, Cam Dolan at the Number 8, and fullback Mike Te’o, this team should pose a threat to any side. They even beat Glendale on the last day of the season ruining the Raptors’ chances at going undefeated. Keep a close eye on them.
Seattle, on the other hand, has been a very strong team this season as some even think they might be better than Glendale. With players like props Olive Kilifi and John Hayden, scrumhalf Phil Mack, flyhalf Will Holder, centres Shalom Suniula and Mike Garrity, winger Peter Tiberio, and fullback Mike Palefau, this team is very good and could very well win the championship. However, had it not been for Glendale defeating them twice, they could have possibly gotten the number one seed in the playoffs and those people who think they are better than the Raptors might actually have a point. They also have one of the best scrum units too as that could be the difference maker in this match.
James: Seattle. I do think it will be a close match and San Diego does have a lot of momentum going into the playoffs, but Seattle is that good of a side. Plus I really want them to face Glendale in the championship match to see if the people who say Seattle is better to have a point.