Rugby ATL wins the Fire and Ice Cup and qualifies for the MLR Playoffs

Rugby ATL player Joaquin de la Vega Mendia in Hoboken, New Jersey
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ATLANTA, GA – The Fire and Ice Cup, for the second-straight time, is going to the team in the south. Rugby ATL is now back-to-back Fire and Ice Cup champions. It was not easy, as, at one point, Toronto looked like they were running away with the game. However, Atlanta rebounded late in the first half and never looked back.

Rugby ATL wins their second-straight Fire and Ice Cup

Three keys to the game

Rugby ATL scored two late tries in the first half

This might have been the reason why Atlanta won the game. It was a real game-changer when the game was looking to get a bit away from them. The first of these two late first-half tries came in the 35-minute. The 35-minute try came from a scrum by Tiaan Eramsus, which was difficult for the Arrows to defend against.

The second try, in comparison though, looked preventable. Toronto played really well on the outside defence. However, in the 40-minute, Kurt Coleman took advantage of the lack of inside defence of the Arrows and scored a very late try. The conversion was made, which means that even though Toronto dominated much of the first half, they were only up by two points. Coleman also had a good game with the kicks, as he converted all four of his conversions.

Rugby ATL played very well defensively in the second half

Rugby ATL defended well many times in this half.

  • In the 47-minute, the Toronto Arrows gave over the ball. They had trouble moving the ball forward, despite having a lineout. The Arrows Ueta Tufuga was called for a turnover. Then, after Toronto turned over the ball, Atlanta’s New Zealander, Te Rangatira Waitokia, did a great double-step before getting past the Arrows’ defence.
  • A Rugby ATL player intercepted a pass from Arrows’ Rugby Canada player, Ross Braude, in the 75-minute.

Yes, the Arrows turned over the ball late in the second half. However, that will happen as the Arrows’ season was on the line. Atlanta was prepared for that and was able to take their opportunities. The only time the Arrows almost got points in the second half was at the beginning. Malcolm had a chance to convert a long-range penalty goal, but it was just off-target.

Toronto Arrows made mistakes in the second half

  • The lineout pass by Andrew Quattrin was not in a straight line in the 55-minute, which resulted in an unforced turnover. The Arrows forwards pulled out of the engage before the scrum in the 56-minute.
  • The Toronto Arrows were called for an offside in the 63-minute. This allowed Atlanta to convert a penalty in the 65-minute.

The Arrows made one or two mistakes in the first half, including giving Atlanta the third try of the game. However, for the most part, it was the mistakes in the second half, particularly the first mistake that cost them the match. Credit though should be given to Atlanta, which was the better team.

Other Factors

Big congrats to Atlanta, who won their second-straight Fire and Ice Cup. This was not as close as the last Fire and Ice Cup, that Atlanta won, but they had to dig in in the second half and they did that. After losing to the LA Giltinis in the 2021 MLR Final, they are looking to come back to the MLR Final in 2022.

Toronto’s defence was again a problem in this game. Atlanta’s offence more often than not was able to get through the Arrows’ line. However, to give them credit the Arrows’ defence stepped up in the second half and somewhere in the 70-minute, since they were able to prevent Atlanta from scoring another try. Toronto was also the better team in the first half, as New Zealand rugby player, Sam Malcolm. stepped up and converted on all five of his conversions in the first half.

Also, the relentless pressure for Atlanta led to their first two tries. The leg drive resulted in Johan Momsen scoring the first try of the game. Then, with the second try, via a scrum, Eramsus scored in the 35-minute. Both of those tries required both speed and strength to push oneself to the try line. Also, Atlanta was 5/5 in kick conversions. Four of those conversions came from Coleman while the other one came from Los Pumas player, Joaquín de la Vega (pictured above).

Game Summary

For Rugby ATL, they are in the MLR playoffs, but they still have something to compete for. They are fighting for second place in the Eastern Conference with Rugby New York. They both have the same exact number of points in 15 games. However, Atlanta is second because of the points differential. The team that finishes second will have the home playoff tie against the third-placed team.

Unfortunately, for Toronto, next week will be their last game this year in MLR. They will play at home though, against Old Glory DC. That game will happen at 12:00 p.m. ET at York Lions Stadium. This will be a season finale for both teams, who did not make the 2022 MLR playoffs. If one cannot watch the game in person, Canadian fans can watch the game nationally on TSN. The game can also be watched on the NBCSW and The Rugby Network. They had a decent season, but it was still not enough to make the MLR playoffs. The home losses against Rugby ATL and Rugby New York really did hurt them at the end of this season.

Lastly, a big thumbs up to the TSN broadcast. This was the first road game this year that was televised nationally in Canada. This means that nine of the 16 games will have been televised nationally on TSN, including the game next Sunday and all Arrows games shown on TSN.ca/TSN App. For those outside Canada who do not know, TSN is one of the two main English-speaking Canadian sports channels. It is Canada’s version of the US’s ESPN and the UK’s Sky Sports. It is a big deal for professional rugby union, not just in Toronto, but in Canada in general.

 

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