The Runner Sports

Austin/Glendale Raptors Dominate; NORFC/Rugby Utah Must Improve

This weekend gave a glimpse into the future of Major League Rugby (MLR) and it’s a bleak one for New Orleans Rugby (NORFC) and Rugby Utah (RU). On Friday Austin demolished NORFC 91-8 and Saturday Glendale rolled over Rugby Utah 94-17, the match streamed on Infinity Park’s website.

Rugby Utah looked slow and, despite what appeared a significant physical size advantage, were weaker in the power game. Glendale dominated the breakdown and at the scrum so much so they pushed one RU scrum feed over for their own try. The advantage was so far in Glendale’s favor you could see the Raptors execution diminish as the game progressed, regressing into a practice match allowing for some RU bright spots. Regardless, Glendale dominated every facet of the match and are clearly demonstrating to the rest of the would-be MLR clubs they are at the pentacle.

It’s hard to analyze the Austin/NORFC match, but one thing is clear after seeing Glendale dominate Austin a couple of weeks ago, New Orleans has as much work to do as Rugby Utah does. The question remains, how? Will the two clubs look to sign internationals, maybe attempt to sign talent away from other US clubs? Rugby Utah has a growing pipeline of players, it’s possible they’ll uncover hidden talent, but NORFC will likely need to sign players.

Upcoming games for RU and NORFC will be big indicators as to how they’ll compete next year as RU visits Austin April 1 and NORFC host the Chicago Lions on March 18.

In other MLR related news:

The Glendale Raptors and Ontario Blues have agreed to play a match on May 20 in Burlington, Ontario in what could be a possible sign of Canadian Rugby Championships (CRC) cooperation with Major League Rugby. Could the MLR achieve what PRO Rugby could not, the inclusion of Canadian clubs? With the CRC cutting back matches for the 2017 season due to funding shortfalls it makes sense from a player development and league survival standpoint to join forces with the upstart MLR. There are many possibilities and even more unanswered questions at this time but it’s possible they could field a Canadian All-Star squad or simply include clubs like Ontario in the future.

The Kansas City Blues defeated Dallas Harlequins 34-14 in Dallas while the Chicago Lions and Seattle Saracens were idle.



-By Jason Graves

  • See this is actually what PRO had going for them. Competitive balance was what they were aiming for, and by starting from scratch and drafting in a talent pool that afforded each team equal opportunity was very smart. Nothing damages a league like competitive imbalance. MLR will have to find some way to make an attempt at if they ultimately want to truly consider themselves a professional league.

    • Jason Graves

      Yes but by alienating the clubs, however that happened, essentially killed PRO as players are more loyal to their club. I really hope a competitive balance can be found with Seattle, maybe Ontario, signings by the other clubs.

      • Well I’m not saying that had everything figured out. But that was a huge positive they attempted and largely succeeded at. Competitive imbalance damages multi-million dollar professional organizations, I can only imagine what it’d due to something like MLR.