The 2022 MLR Season Schedule – Revealed

Seattle Seawolves' AJ Alatimu prepares to kick during the first half at Segra Field
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ANALYSIS – The 2022 MLR season schedule was revealed in December and it has some interesting games to look at. Of course, with the Dallas Jackals getting a team there will be three pro teams from the state of Texas. Also, the LA Giltinis will look to defend their title as they begin their second MLR season this year.

The 2022 MLR Season Schedule – Analysis

Opening Day Games

Old Glory DC will open their season at Atlanta Silverbacks Park against Rugby ATL according to Major League Rugby. It is also home to the NARL’s Atlanta Silverbacks. It is one of only two cities in the Americas to have both a professional rugby league and union team, with the other being Toronto. The game kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET on February 5. The other notable game is the Texas Derby on the same day at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Dallas Jackals will travel to face Texas Derby rival Austin Gilgronis at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will take place at BOLD Stadium.

Other games on February 5 include the champions, LA Giltinis, going to Houston to face the Houston SaberCats at 8:00 p.m. ET and the NOLA Gold hosting the New England Free Jacks at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Texas Cup Derby Rivalry Games

The Texas Derby will be the most interesting of all the games to kick off this year. When looking at the Gilgronis, they will host the Houston SaberCats on April 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET. They will then travel to Dallas on April 16 and Houston on June 3 to end their regular season.

Dallas will travel to face the Houston SaberCats on February 19. They will then host the Austin Gilgronis on April 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET. This is while Dallas’ first Texas Derby game will be against Houston on February 19. They then play on the road against Austin on April 3.

They then host Dallas on April 9 before playing on the road against Austin on April 16. Also, like Houston, Austin will end their regular season on June 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, as mentioned before, the first Texas Derby game this year will take place at 7:00 p.m. ET on February 5 between the Jackals and the Gilgronis. Austin has won all three Texas Cup Derby trophies so far.

California Cup and Champagne Cup Derby Trophies

There are two games between these two California Cup rivals. The first one will be in Los Angeles hosting on March 20 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The last California Cup game then will be played on May 15 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

The game on March 20 will be in Los Angeles while the game on May 15 will in San Diego. Los Angeles won the inaugural cup against San Diego. They won all three games against the Legion. This is what Hall of Famer Todd Cleaver said about the game in Southern California:

“Rugby is strong in Southern California, but we’ve got to work on introducing the game to the millions of other sports lovers and families in LA who don’t know about rugby and its ethos.”

Giltinis was able to defeat San Diego twice last year, despite being the expansion team.

New York City trailed for a lot of that game. This included them trailing by half-time by a scoreline of 6-10. However, they came back and were able to win the game. This was thanks to a penalty conversion by Dan Hollinshead that allowed New York City to capture the Champagne Cup. This was also LA’s first loss in the 2021 MLR season, after many consecutive wins to start their expansion year.

The Champagne Cup will be determined on April 10. Now the defending MLR champions, the Giltinis will look to claim their first-ever Champagne Cup against Rugby United New York (now rebranded as Rugby New York).

Other Rivalry Cups

The Cuisine Solutions Cup between Old Glory FC and Austin Gilgronis began two years ago. However, the first match since the cup was created was last year. It was an intense match between the two sides. However, because of Old Glory’s positive first-half performance, they were able to obtain the 29-25 victory over Austin Gilgronis. Both teams played well last year but narrowly failed to make the 2021 MLR playoffs.

Gilgronis will have a chance to obtain that elusive trophy at Bold Stadium – Circuit of the America in Washington, D.C. The game will take place on February 12 at 8:30 p.m. ET. There is also the Cold War Derby between Rugby New York and the New England Free Jacks.

It is tied with two trophies apiece from both sides. New England will travel to New York City on March 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET and April 24 at 2:30 p.m. ET. This is while New York City will travel to Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Lastly, there is the Fire and Ice Cup Derby between the Toronto Arrows and Rugby ATL. The Arrows lost to Rugby ATL in heartbreaking fashion last year. Rugby ATL will travel to York Lions Stadium on April 2, 2022. This is while the Arrows will travel to Silverbacks Park in Georgia on May 28 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Only the May 28 game between Toronto and Atlanta will count towards who wins the Fire and Ice Cup. However, April 2 will also be a special day as it marks the first time since 2019 that Toronto played in the Greater Toronto Area.

Possible Expansion Teams

As everyone knows, the Dallas Jackals will be the thirteenth MLR team in 2022. However, there are rumours of more teams coming into the league. According to Chris Smith of Sports Business Journal, MLR Commissioner George Killebrew wants to expand by one or two more teams each year. They are in fact having exclusive negotiations with two potential ownership groups wanting to join the league in 2023.

It is unknown right now where those two markets are. However, there is speculation that one of those two teams is most likely Chicago. The Midwest in the U.S. currently does not have a team and Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the U.S. could fit the bill.

However, the second city is much harder to guess. There are currently nine US cities (including Chicago) and two Canadian cities involved in trying to get an MLR team. The cities/states that have been named are Colorado, Philadelphia, Miami, and from Canada, Montreal and Vancouver. This is according to Collin Smith of Rugby Football Talk.

One of those other American cities could be Hawaii. According to Sam Spangler of KHON-TV, there is a plan to have a professional sports team in both soccer and rugby union. The new stadium would be the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District. It would most likely house a United Soccer League team with a possibility of also having a Major League Rugby team.

Possible Rugby World Cup in USA and Vancouver

Also, there is the potential of a 25-team league by the time the 2027 or 2031 Rugby World Cup comes. This is what MLR Commissioner George Killebrew said about the possibility according to The New England Free Jacks YouTube account:

“We’ll just make it up in 25 markets, I mean wouldn’t that be wonderful if major league rugby was a 25 team league by the time the world cup comes the united states shore.”

An assumption based on Last Word on Rugby’s interview with Killebrew is that the 2031 Rugby World Cup will be more likely than getting the 2027 Rugby World Cup. This is because Australia is seen as the favourite to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup. The U.S. is also thinking of hosting the 2029 Rugby Women’s World Cup. According to the Canadian Press, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is also involved in the USA Rugby-led bid to host the women’s and men’s rugby world cups. However, it is unclear whether other Canadian cities could be considered if the bid succeeds in May. Their main competitor will be England, which also wants to host the 2031 Rugby World Cup.

A decision to see who hosts the 2027 and 2031 Rugby World Cup and the 2029 Rugby Women’s World Cup will take place this May according to Joe Reedy of Stuff.co.nz. If the Rugby World Cup is awarded to the U.S. and Canada, it could mean the possibility of having more teams in MLR. This would also give some much-needed optimism for Rugby Canada fans after failing to make the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

2022 MLR Season Schedule Overview

There is a lot to be excited about this season. The Arrows are going to play their first home game since 2019. A new team with the Dallas Jackals will make their presence in MLR. Also, will the La Giltinis continue their success after beating Rugby ATL in the MLR Championship Final? It was surprising how the Seattle Seawolves (AJ Alatimu is one of the Seawolves’ players seen in the main picture above) fell off last year considering they won the first two MLR Championships. The season starts on February 5 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Georgia between Rugby ATL and Old Glory DC.

 

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