Rugby United New York wins important game to stay in Playoff contention

Rugby United New York's Benjamin Foden and Julio Cesar together after deafeating the Austin Gilgronis at Sam Boyd Stadium
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Rugby United New York wins an important game to keep themselves in the playoff race. It was not easy though, as the game went right to the wire in Round 15 of the Major League Rugby (MLR) 2021.

That might have been expected though, as both rivals emerged in the MLR competition as expansion teams for the 2019 expansion season. Since their inception, their encounters have produced typically intense games. Fortunately for New York City, this game went their way as they squeaked in a 24-31 victory over the Toronto Arrows last weekend.

Rugby United New York’s win improves playoff chances

A win now less even though a controversial try was scored by Rugby United New York that tied the game in the 20-minute. Scorer Apensia Cakaubalayu did not plant the ball onto the ground before putting the ball over the try line. Caused by John Sheridan, who did a good job of hustling the scorer so that Cakaubalaya appeared not score the try. Unfortunately for the defenders, the try was awarded by match officials.

In most cases, Last Word on Rugby wants to avoid talking about controversial tries as being a reason why one team had possibly won the game. However, in a close game like this, it played a major factor. This is especially true since this was the opening salvo of 19 straight points Rugby United New York scored in the first half.

Keys to the game outcome

Rugby United New York scored all those points after trailing 10-5 against the Toronto Arrows. This is where New York City did their most damage offensively and from there, was able to control the game’s outcome.

Toronto Arrows had chances to tie the game, and players like Joaquin Tuculet and Mitch Richardson tried their hardest to bring the match back into the Arrows’ control.

A highlight for Canadian rugby fans, the above offload to Richardson meant that Toronto was only trailing 24-31 against New York City. Unfortunately for the Arrows, they were never able to get that deciding final try to tie or to win the game.

In the analysis, there were two notable chances that Toronto had in the second half:

  • In the 67-minute, the Arrows were close to the try line, but Rugby United was able to deflect the ball off Joe Tomlinson before he got to the try line.
  • The Arrows Adrian Wadden blocked a Chris Mattina kick near the end of the game. Wadden was ahead of the New York City player in chasing the ball but went out of the try zone before Wadden could touch it.

New York City got the win by the skin of their teeth. This also meant that the season series between the teams was one win each. The Toronto Arrows demolished Rugby United New York earlier in the season in April.

Rugby United New York crucial win keeps them in a playoff spot

Hanco Germishuys was the player of the game for Rugby United New York. He scored the first and last tries for New York City. Both tries were almost identical. Both came from scrums, where Germishuys was able to push through the Arrows’ defence.

With the win, Rugby United New York remains in second place in the Eastern Conference. They get the bonus point and are four points ahead of the NOLA Gold. It is important to remember that only the top two teams from both the Eastern and the Western Conferences can make the 2021 MLR playoffs.

Furthermore, it makes up for the cruel one-point loss New York City suffered against the Utah Warriors on June 19. New York City has three games left in the 2021 MLR season. Their first game will be against the New England Free Jacks on Saturday, July. 3 at 4:00 p.m. ET at Union Point Stadium.

The Free Jacks are currently fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 34 points. If Rugby United wins that game, they can eliminate the Free Jacks from qualifying for the 2021 MLR playoffs. A win though would give New England new life and make it possible for them to make the 2021 MLR playoffs.

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They will then face the Houston SaberCats on July 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET before ending their season against NOLA Gold on July 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET. For New York City, a win against SaberCats should be seen as a must. The SaberCats are in a must-win game as Houston is right now the worst team in the 2021 MLR season with only 13 points.

PSA: How to watch the Rugby United New York games

The July 3 game will be shown on MSG, NESN, and The Rugby Network. This is while the July 10 game will be shown on MSG, The Rugby Network, and AT&T SportsNet. Lastly, the July 17 game against New Orleans will be shown CST, MSG, and The Rugby Network.

The game could be a pivotal match against the NOLA Gold. They are in second and third place respectively in the Eastern Conference yet it is important to note that, difficult or not to predict if the game will be season-defining or not, but it will be a great conclusion to the regular season.

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‘Not done yet’ – Arrows still have bright future for the organization

While wins and losses are primary to all franchise teams’ function, development and emerging talent identification are core areas where organizations can be judged on their success.

19-year-old Kobe Faust earned his first appearance for the Toronto Arrows against Rugby United New York. His hometown is Uxbridge, Ontario according to the Toronto Arrows. His grassroots team was the Oshawa Vikings and his university team was the Guelph Gryphons. He has represented the Arrows at the under-18 level in 2019. Faust is also in contention to be part of the under-20 program following the 2021 MLR season.

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Other players to make their MLR debut includes Tomlinson and Ollie Nott for Toronto. Also, Tayler Adams, their best offensive player continues to play well. He played a big part in Tuculet’s try in the first half. It is a bright light in otherwise a disappointing season for the Arrows.

Arrows struggles this year not a confidence issue

This game marks the fifth game they lost where the difference was seven points or less. This strangely enough does not seem to be a coincidence. One can also look at other Toronto sports teams that are losing tight games like Toronto FC.

As seen by Arrow’s Will Kelly’s tweet, the Arrows have gone through a lot this season. Playing all home games in Marietta, Georgia probably had a negative effect on the players.

The Arrows players experienced something that no players before them had ever experienced before. Being away from family and friends and not playing in front of home fans puts the Arrows at a disadvantage. This seems to be true for many games.

Not an excuse for the Arrows season and how it turned out though [to date].

Many of the Arrows’ losses were winnable games. Also, some of them they should have won. It is also important to note though how the Arrows made the playoffs in 2019. It was because they won seven of their eight games at home in Toronto. They needed all of them in order to get to the MLR playoffs.

The Arrows only have two games left in the 2021 MLR season. The first game against Old Glory DC will take place on Sunday, July 4 at 6:00 p.m ET. They will then close the season on Sunday, July 11 at 12:00 p.m ET against the New England Free Jacks.

Both games will take place at Life University in Marietta. Games will be televised nationally on TSN. Fans can also watch the July 4 game on FS1, and the July 11 game on CBSSN.

 

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