The Toronto Arrows ended the New England Free Jacks’ 10-game-winning streak after the latest round of the Major League Rugby season. It was only the Free Jacks’ second loss of the season.
The win at York Lions Stadium also put Toronto back in the MLR playoff race with only two games to go.
Toronto Arrows end the New England Free Jacks’ historic winning streak
Keys to the game can be found below, yet an away win for the Eastern Conference side is ‘just what the doctor ordered’ for the Arrows.
Full Game Summary:
The #ArrowsUp scored four tries and earned the bonus point.
The Toronto Arrows was the team that had the better power play.
— Raheem (@bashirra) May 21, 2022
1: Toronto Arrows scored four tries including the bonus point
The first try might have been the most important. Yes, some of the later tries were more pretty. However, it seemed like a switch just turned on for Toronto as Arrows and Rugby Canada’s Andrew Quattrin got past the Free Jacks’ defence. It was also a turning point in the game after giving up the first 11 points of the game. Arrows and Rugby Canada’s Giuseppe Du Toit also scored a try early in the second half from a turnover to keep the momentum from the first half into the second half.
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) May 20, 2022
Arrows forced a spill in the 72-minute deep into New England’s zone. This allowed the Arrows the opportunity to score their fourth try. Ross Braude passed the ball to Rodney Hood, who scored a fantastic and acrobatic try on the edge of the field (also can be seen in the photo above). It was also a try that gave them the important bonus point to keep themselves in the hunt for an MLR playoff spot in the 73-minute.
2: Toronto Arrows played better than the New England Free Jacks with the power play
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) May 20, 2022
The Arrows were forced to play a man down for 10 minutes after Andrew Quattrin was given a controversial yellow card. However, the Arrows performed well being a man down. This is what one of the try scorers, Du Toit, said to Raheem Bashir about that situation after the game:
“Usually, when you go a man down, you sort of really have to lift the energy. And that was sort of the message from everybody on the field. And if you can lift the energy, it’s like, there’s 15 guys, even though we’re a man down. So really, really proud of the guys for stepping up in those situations.”
Toronto earned a penalty in the 26-minute. Sam Malcolm converted the easy penalty kick in the 26-minute to close the gap to one point. Toronto’s Mieres made a great catch and almost drew a New England Free Jacks’ yellow card. However, as a result, the Arrows were able to advance the field as it was a penalty. Toronto’s Du Toit was also tackled quite high on the head in the 29-minute by New England’s Kyle Ciquera. Toronto was able to draw a penalty eventually and earned another three points via a penalty kick. Sam Malcolm converted the kick in the 30-minute.
Then when the Free Jacks’ got a yellow card, the Arrows took advantage. They scored an immediate try as Uruguay’s Gastón Mieres scored a fantastic try. Rugby Canada’s Ross Braude should also be given credit as he found Mieres on the corner of the field. New Zealand Rugby player, Sam Malcolm, was the one who converted the kick in the 57-minute. As a result, the Arrows were +13 overall with the special teams.
3: Arrows played better defensively after early struggles
This is what Du Toit said about the defence; “Yeah, we struggled in the first five or 10 minutes, just because we were sort of weren’t getting in the right positions. But we had some good chat under the posts there. And we sort of figured it out. And we just went back to what we trained all week and that’s just coming up with line speed and tackling.”
The Arrows really played well defensively. After giving up the first 11 points of the game, they only allowed seven more points in the rest of the game. Toronto made a great tackle in the 70-minute to force a spill from the Free Jacks. Ronan Foley was the one who forced the turnover with his tackle.
- Lucas Rumball made a steal in the first half.
- Arrows’ Ronan Foley forced a spill in the 70-minute from the New England Free Jacks.
The Arrows tackles were clean against the Free Jacks. As a result, New England made a lot of turnovers and the momentum was on Toronto’s side. This was also true when they were a man down as they made some big tackles in the 19-minute. The Arrows’ line speed was also fantastic as they looked organized all game long. The training really paid off for Toronto.
Other factors – Toronto Arrows end the New England Free Jacks’ winning streak
— The Rugby Network (@therugbynetwork) May 20, 2022
The New England Free Jacks started the game well. They went off and earned a penalty in the second minute. As a result, John Poland converted on the early penalty conversion in the second minute. Millennium Sanerivi also scored a try in the second half. However, New England made some costly turnovers. This included late in the first half when a pass was bobbled, which could have led to a try.
Other mistakes include the 33-minute, where Boyle’s pass was intercepted by Toronto’s Hood. New England also committed a few turnovers in the second half and ended up losing the game as a result. However, saying that, New England faced a motivated Toronto side. A team playing at home needs a win to keep their MLR playoff hopes alive.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) May 22, 2022
Game summary and what this result means for both teams
Yes, the Toronto Arrows was the better team on Thursday at York Lions Stadium. They really used the momentum of being a man down as a momentum shift for the rest of the game. It was wonderful to see for a team desperate to get points in MLR. This also made up for the lose to Rugby New York at home. This was also Toronto’s first win against New England in the MLR season. The Arrows lost the previous three encounters against New England, including one game earlier this year in New England.
For New England, they failed to make MLR history. If they won at York Lions Stadium, they would have won 11-straight games. This would have tied for the all-time MLR winning streak record, which the LA Giltinis accomplished last year.
Unfortunately for Toronto, their Fire and Ice Cup rivals, Rugby ATL won against Rugby New York and also gained themselves the bonus point. This means that Atlanta is tied with New York City in second place (Atlanta is second via the tiebreaker in points differential). This also makes the Fire and Ice Cup game a possible must-win game for the Arrows. If Toronto loses and New York City wins, the Arrows will be out of contention for the MLR playoffs.
On the other hand, this is good news for New England. Rugby New York did not get any closer to the Free Jacks’ points total. Also, in terms of trying to win home advantage for the entire MLR playoffs, the Free Jacks have currently seven more points than defending MLR Championship Shield champions, the LA Giltinis.
The East holds steady after week 15 👀
Three weeks remain in the regular season – The @NEFreeJacks have secured an Eastern Conference playoff spot, who else is making it to the MLR Championship Series?#MLR2022 | #RiseOfRugby pic.twitter.com/maTFBGZArt
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) May 16, 2022
New England’s next two games are at home at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The first one is against the already eliminated NOLA Gold on May 29 at 6:30 p.m. ET. That game will be shown live on FS1. The Free Jacks’ will then end their regular season campaign against Rugby New York. The game will take place on June 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will be shown live on The Rugby Network, NBCSB and MSG.
Giuseppe De Toit on game against Rugby ATL
The next game for Toronto is an exciting road game against Fire and Ice Cup rivals, Rugby ATL. This is what Du Toit said about the upcoming game:
“Yeah, we can’t wait. I mean, Atlanta looked after us so well last year, and, and there were such great hosts and it’s amazing that we’re having this sort of rivalry with them and now, it’s our next coaching match. So really looking forward to that.”
Toronto has one home and road game left. Their last road game will be against Fire and Ice Cup rivals, Rugby ATL, at Silverbacks Park in Atlanta Georgia. As seen above in the quote by Du Toit, the Arrows players are very thankful to Rugby ATL, for allowing Toronto to play home games there last year because of COVID-19. It will also be a game with a lot of potential playoff implications as both teams are fighting to be part of the MLR 2022 playoffs.
That game between Toronto and Atlanta will take place on May 28 and the game will be shown live on The Rugby Network and TSN.ca/TSN App. The Arrows will then close the season against Old Glory DC at York Lions Stadium. That game will take place on June 5 at 12:00 p.m. ET and will be shown live on The Rugby Network and NBCSW. Additionally, for people who live in Canada, the game will be televised nationally on TSN.