The Toronto Arrows 2022 Season: Improvements for Next Season

Toronto Arrows playing against Old Glory DC on June 5, 2022
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ANALYSIS โ€“ The Toronto Arrows had an up and down season. They had some incredible games, like the win against the New England Free Jacks. However, they also had some key losses at home against teams they needed to defeat, like Rugby ATL.

The Toronto Arrows 2022 Season Campaign

Strengths

The Toronto Arrows do have the ability to pull away from teams

Despite the Arrows finishing with eight wins and eight losses, they still had a points differential of +24. At many points of the season, it was higher than +24. That is very similar to Rugby New York, which had 11 wins and five losses and only had a points differential of +25.

A big reason for that was the Arrows’ ability to score lots of points at certain parts of the MLR season. This included scoring over 50 points against the NOLA Gold and expansion side, the Dallas Jackals. This included Giuseppe du Toitโ€™s heads-up try against the Gold in April.

Toronto Arrows can beat the top teams in MLR

The Arrows have shown the ability to win games against some of the top teams in MLR this year. The best example was the Arrows beating the New England Free Jacks. At that time the Free Jacks won 10-straight games, looking to make it 11. This is what Giuseppe du Toit said about that specific game against the Free Jacks when they were a man down.

โ€œUsually, 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, itโ€™s like, there are 15 guys, even though weโ€™re a man down. So really, really proud of the guys for stepping up in those situations.โ€

The Arrows trailed before Andrew Quattrin got the yellow card. However, in the 10 minutes that the Arrows played a man down, they converted two penalties and took the lead in a game that they would eventually win. That win showed the character of a team that can compete and beat the very best teams in MLR.

They were also able to beat teams that made the playoffs on the road like Rugby New York, a team that eventually won the MLR Championship Shield this year. This shows that the Arrows can hang with the best MLR teams, and something they should take pride in, heading into next year.

Weaknesses

Toronto Arrows was not consistent enough

This is one area the Arrows really need to improve on. Consistency is key when wanting to make the MLR playoffs and eventually win the MLR Championship Shield. This is what Arrows player, Cole Brown, said to TSN after the loss to Rugby New York:

โ€œYeah, absolutely, I think at the start of the year, our defence was prime and we were doing really well and our offense was lacking a bit and we recently have been able to score tries, but we have not been defending as well. So, it is just connecting those two at the right time, and hopefully, we can do it for the rest of the year.โ€

This is something that unfortunately the Arrows were never able to balance this year. They gave up 19.375 points per game in the first half of the season while only scoring 18.375 points per game.

The Arrows dramatically improved their points per game in the second half of the season to 33.375 points per game and gave up 29.375 points per game. Keep in mind, that in one of those games they gave up 0 points against Dallas and scored 57 points.ย  If one takes away the Dallas game, the Arrows gave up 33.571 points per game and scored only 30 points per game. Overall, they gave up 24.375 points per game and scored 25.875 points per game. This included giving up 50 points to Old Glory DC, which is not good enough when trying to make the MLR playoffs.

Counterpoint: Toronto Arrows did not have a great home record

This may refer to the previous point. However, in terms of results at home, Toronto could have done better.

Their road record, which was 4-4, is fine as it is harder to win on the road. Having a decent road record keeps a team in the conversation for an MLR playoff spot.

However, having a 4-4 record at home needs to be improved upon. Furthermore, some of those games came up against teams that ended up making the playoffs like Rugby ATL and Rugby New York. Teams that finished ahead of the Arrows in the MLR Eastern Conference standings. This was especially true against Atlanta, as Toronto lost both their home and away matches, and that played a major role in Toronto not making the MLR playoffs.

Summary of the Toronto Arrows 2022 Season

Grade: Toronto Arrows C+

The Arrows did not have a great season, but they also did not have a bad season. Toronto has shown an ability to score and an ability to defend in parts of the year. The win against the New England Free Jacks at York Lions Stadium shows their ability and what they are capable of. Also, a higher rating than normal was given to Toronto since they were able to return to play in Toronto.

Yes, they did play at Starlight Stadium in Langford against the LA Giltinis in February. However, they did not play home games in Toronto for the first time since 2020 until April, when half of the season was finished. This was due to the cold weather in Toronto. They averaged 2,000 fans against Fire and Ice Rivals, Rugby ATL, at York Lions Stadium, which was the first home game in Toronto since 2019.

It is important to note that the Arrows went through a tough experience playing away from families in 2021. The best thing for those players to experience is playing back in Toronto, to get that feeling back from 2019. Even though Toronto did lose to Atlanta, it was a momentous occasion and; a proud moment for Raheem Farhan Bashir to be an official part of the media box representing Last Word on Rugby, for such an important occasion.

Homegrown future the way for Toronto Arrows franchise

What is most exciting though about the Arrows is their homegrown talent. Being Canadaโ€™s only professional rugby union team, homegrown talent is a must for Rugby Canada. This is especially true when Rugby Canada did not make the Rugby World Cup for the first time in its men’s national team’s history.

The Toronto Arrows has always been a team that relied its talent on homegrown players rather than big-name players.

 

Photo Credit: Marcus Hobbs of the Toronto Arrows on June 5, 2022