On July 24, both Rugby ATL (Atlanta) and Rugby United New York will battle for a spot in the 2021 MLR Finals. Both franchises have never made it to the 2021 MLR Finals. However, Rugby United New York did make the 2019 MLR playoffs. They were eliminated by the San Diego Legion in the semi-final round.
MLR playoffs preview: Rugby ATL hosts Rugby United New York
This will be Rugby ATL’s first time in the MLR playoffs. Their first season last year ended prematurely when the COVID-19 pandemic happened. They had a total of 59 points in the 2021 MLR season. This is the second-most point in all of MLR. Only the LA Giltinis had more with 63 points.
The leading try-scorer in the 2020 MLR season was Bjorn Basson. The 34-year-old South African had the most tries in the league with 10 according to MLR.
— Rugby ATL (@RugbyATL) July 11, 2021
They were the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a spot in the playoffs. This was thanks to a 41-31 win over the Utah Warriors on July 10. They led throughout the game and never trailed against the Warriors.
However, it is important to note that Atlanta has never defeated New York City. They lost 17-27 in New York City on April 11. They would also lose 24-31 at 2:00 p.m. ET at home. This is not going to be an easy game for Atlanta despite being the higher seed. There is also Ryan Nell, who is a centre/winger/full back for Atlanta (a picture of him can be seen above).
Rugby United New York
C L I N C H E D
Back your city and watch New York take on Atlanta in next weekend's Major League Rugby Eastern Conference finals.
Will history will be painted in blue and orange this year?
Saturday 24 July
8:00pm ET pic.twitter.com/lmDWh3ZDi1
— Rugby United New York (@rugbyunitedny) July 18, 2021
Rugby United New York will make their second-straight MLR playoff appearance. They are the only MLR team with two straight MLR playoff appearances. However, like last time in 2019, they will play on the road. They lost in the semi-final 24-20 against the San Diego Legion. This is what Dylan Fausitt said in Matt McCarthy’s article of Rugby Wrap Up, where he said this about Hanco Germishuys:
“Hanco is a tough player to go up against. His leg strength makes him powerful and hard to defend.”
There was also one anonymous MLR executive who said this about Germishuys:
“He’s the best American player of his generation.”
This is some pretty high praise for Germishuys. He played a big role in defeating their rivals the Toronto Arrows. In that game, Germishuys scored two tries for New York City in a game Rugby United only won by seven points over the Arrows. He will be a player to watch for Atlanta. There is also Dan Hollinshead, who had 111 points. This is the most points scored by any MLR player.
Rugby ATL-Rugby United New York Overview
Get your tickets #EasternConferenceFinals tickets now!
— Rugby ATL (@RugbyATL) July 20, 2021
Rugby ATL has the better record, but Rugby United New York has won the head-to-head matchup this year against Atlanta. It is hard to say who will win this matchup. It is really a toss-up. This game can go either way.
Prediction: Rugby United New York wins by two points.
However, I think this time New York City will get over the hump. They have the playoff experience from 2019 and are well-matched against Atlanta. It would not be surprising if Atlanta won this game though, as they played exceptionally well in the 2021 MLR season. The winner of this game will play in the 2021 MLR Final on August 1. They will play against the winner of the La Giltinis and the Utah Warriors, which will take place on July 25 at 6:00 p.m. ET.
The game between Rugby United New York and Rugby ATL will take place on July 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET. It will be shown nationally on TV in Canada on TSN. Also, the game will be shown in the U.S. on CBSSN. It will take place at Lupo Family Field in Marietta, Georgia.