Rugby ATL vs. Toronto Arrows: 2023 Fire and Ice Cup is up for Grabs

Fire and Ice Cup Rivals, the Toronto Arrows and Rugby ATL playing on April 2, 2022

The 2023 Fire and Ice Cup will be the headline of the February 17 game between Rugby ATL and the Toronto Arrows. Rugby ATL is looking to win their third consecutive trophy, while the Arrows will look to win their first-ever Fire and Ice Cup.

2023 Fire and Ice Cup: can the Toronto Arrows defeat ATL?

Rugby ATL

Rugby ATLโ€™s 2022 MLR season was more successful than the Toronto Arrows. They will have a sour taste in their mouths though after losing to Rugby New York in a nail-biting 26-19 loss at home. New York City would then go on to win their first-ever MLR Championship Shield, defeating both the New England Free Jacks and then the Seattle Seawolves in the MLR Championship Final.

 

Atlanta recently introduced their new logo earlier this year. Head coach Steven Brown said this on Our Sports Central:

“We’re entering the 2023 season with an infectious amount of energy and anticipation from the Atlanta community,” said Amanda Windsor White, President of Rugby ATL.

“Our new look reflects that excitement while celebrating Atlanta’s resilience-influential, strong, and bold. We look forward to setting ourselves apart in the Atlanta sports landscape, introducing ourselves to new fans, and staying true to our roots and loyal fanbase.

“As we grow the game of rugby in Atlanta and establish the RATL culture, our growth depends on enthusiasm and support from those who have been with us since day one.”

Rugby ATL had a successful season last year with 11 wins and five losses. This included winning two games against the Arrows. One of those games was on the road in the Arrows’ triumphant return back to York Lions Stadium and the other game was at home, which made them qualify for the MLR playoffs.

Toronto Arrows

The Toronto Arrows overall had a slightly disappointing season last year. Their road record, 4-4, was decent enough to possibly give them a chance to make the MLR playoffs. The problem, however, was their home record. Finishing with only four wins and four losses at home should not happen for a team that wants to be in the MLR playoffs. That record will need to improve if they want to make the MLR playoffs.

They were also some inconsistencies with the team. With the high of defeating the New England Free Jacks and ending their 10-game winning streak, to losing at home against a struggling Old Glory DC at home at York Lions Stadium, the Arrows have given up too many points to their opponents in some of their games last year.

It is important to remember though that 2022 was a year of celebration for its club and fans. Last year was only the second year in their four-year existence in MLR that they played in front of home fans and it was for the first time since 2019.

Raheem Bashir had the pleasure to talk to Toronto Arrows president and co-founder, Bill Webb on the Arrows after the final game against Old Glory DC ended;ย โ€œItโ€™s a lot better. Itโ€™s great to be home in front of our home fans. It was very lonely last year for everybody, for the players to be playing home games without any fans in the stands, but to be playing here, and today, we had close to 3,000 people cheering, cheering our guys on. Itโ€™s a lot more fun. And, itโ€™s not only good for our players, but itโ€™s also good for our fans because they missed watching our boys, right?โ€

This year will; or should be, the first time that the Arrows play any home games in two years in Toronto. However, firstly, they will need to play their first six away games on the road, before playing their home opener on April 8 at 4:00 p.m. ET against Rugby New York.

READ MORE: 2023 Toronto Arrows MLR Season: Starting with playoff ambitions

The Toronto Arrows look to win their first-ever Fire and Ice Cup

This game is going to be very tight. Yes, Atlanta will be playing at home, but Toronto will feel like they have something to prove. Noel Reid from Ireland Rugby is their most notable off-season signing, but they lost their best player last year, Cole Keith, who went to the New England Free Jacks.

It is also important to note that these two teams are just getting into season mode. Expect some rustiness from both sides as they get into season mode for Major League Rugby this year.

With SLAR unfortunately unable to get a pro rugby union team in Canada this year, the Arrows remain the only Canadian pro rugby union team. So, this rivalry cup is very important for a team and a country that does not have another pro rugby union team.

READ MORE: The 2022 Toronto Arrows MLR Draft: What it means for next year?

Atlanta has won four games against Toronto, including the two Fire and Ice Cup games. ย The last time the Arrows won against Atlanta was on the road on March 1, 2020. Unfortunately, the Fire and Ice Cup did not exist then, and the rivalry cup started a year after.

The 2023 Fire and Ice Cup game kicks off on February 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET. It will take place at Silverbacks Park in Atlanta Georgia. That game will be shown on ‘The Rugby Network’ and TSN. With TSN, it is unclear right now if the game will be live-streamed or televised nationally in Canada.

 

Photo Credit: Kyle Gilmor of the Toronto Arrows on April 2, 2022.