The Toronto Arrows faces familiar foes Rugby New York at JFK Stadium

Rugby New York players huddle at JFK Stadium
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PREVIEW – The Toronto Arrows faces familiar foes, Rugby New York at JFK Stadium. Both teams were expansion teams in the 2019 MLR season and have had many memorable matchups in the teams’ short history in Major League Rugby.

The Toronto Arrows faces expansion cousins in New York City

Toronto Arrows

The Toronto Arrows have a winning record on the road

The Arrows are coming off a big road win over the Utah Warriors. Yes, the Warriors tried to come from behind late but Toronto denied them that opportunity. As a result, Toronto got a key win on the road over Utah by a scoreline of 27-24. They now head to Hoboken, New Jersey, full of optimism, as they face Rugby New York at JFK Stadium.

This might have been the play that helped Toronto the game. Arrows and Rugby Canada player, Will Kelly, had to deal with the difficult wind as he converted the penalty despite the wind blowing.

The Toronto Arrows right now have a 3-3 record. This includes having a 3-2 winning record on the road (they lost a home game in Langford against the LA Giltinis). If they win in Hudson, New Jersey, they would have a 4-2 road record. This is quite significant as the Arrows have seven of their last nine games at home after their game against New York City.

How the Toronto Arrows won in Utah

The Arrows took advantage of a poor start from the Utah Warriors. This is what Calvin Whiting said about the first half according to ESPN 960:

“We weren’t able to quite execute what we wanted in the first half,” said Warriors center Calvin Whiting. “Just silly errors that we can fix. Overall I think we’re still in a good spot…We just need to keep our heads up and move on to the next one.”

The Arrows scored four tries in the game. This included early tries in the first and second half to help secure the victory. Ronan Foley’s try was a terrific team try, which Mitch Richardson and Ross Braude played a major part in. In the second half, Brock Webster and Dennon Robinson-Bartleet scored tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Jack McRogers was the other try scorer in the game.

For people wondering why that is the case, in Toronto and also generally in Canada (except for parts of British Columbia), the winter is severe. This means that Toronto can only play most of their home games at the back end of their MLR season. This was also the case for the 2019 MLR season, where the Arrows played most of their road games to start the season.

Rugby New York

A 5-1 record and currently in a two-game winning streak

Rugby New York (known previously as Rugby United New York) has won two-straight games. This includes an impressive 30-19 win over the NOLA Gold on the road. This will be New York City’s third home game this season. They have only lost one game, which came at home against the New England Free Jacks. New York City is unbeaten on the road, which is incredible knowing how hard it is to win on the road.

There are also benefits to playing in a high school stadium. This is what Colton Strickler said about playing in a high stadium in New Jersey:

“The weather looked lovely, the match was exciting, and the fans in the stands were electric. What I enjoyed seeing most was the people turning their attention away from their tennis match or from their Sunday afternoon chores in their apartment and towards the rugby match.”

There is a certain charm in playing in these types of stadiums. Of course, in the future, one would hope to get rugby union-specific or in large sports stadiums in MLR. However, for now, these types of stadiums are needed for the initial growth of MLR, a league trying to make its name in the crowded sports landscape within Canada and the U.S.

Their strong start against the NOLA Gold, including early tries from Andrew Coe and Kalolo Tuiloma helped New York City get the 11-point victory. Jason Emery and Will Tucker were the other try scorers for Rugby New York.

Toronto Arrows vs. Rugby New York at JFK Stadium

This will be a rivalry game for both teams. It is important to remember that both teams came into the league in 2019. The Arrows got the better of them in the 2019 season and had an exceptional start to the 2020 MLR season before things shut down.

However, Rugby New York has been the more successful team qualifying for the MLR playoffs in 2019 and 2021. Even though in 2021, Toronto was at a massive disadvantage as they played all their home games in Marietta, Georgia because of COVID-19.

The overall record is two wins apiece between both teams. In 2019 and 2021, the record was one win and one loss each.  This included narrow wins at home for both teams in 2019. Toronto was able to get the higher playoff seeding though in their thrilling and emotional win to close the 2019 MLR season.

Then in 2021, the Arrows beat up New York City in their first game. New York City, though, rebounded in the second game, but the Arrows played relatively well in that game. However, it is also known that Toronto has never won a game on the road against New York City.

Looking at the standings, this win could sway in either direction for both teams. Yes, Toronto has two more road games after New York City. However, Toronto also has seven home games from April to early June. Getting another win on the road would put the Arrows in a solid position to try to get the first two spots in the Eastern Conference.

While, for New York City, a win against Toronto in JFK Stadium would help them keep in pace with both Rugby ATL and the New England Free Jacks. These two teams will play at 12:00 p.m. on March 27. The game will be shown on The Rugby Network and on TSN.

 

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