The Toronto Arrows remain winless at home with loss to Houston

Toronto Arrows player, Peter Nelson playing against the Houston SaberCats as the Toronto Arrows remain winless

The Toronto Arrows remain winless at home this year as they lost another game, this time at York Lions Stadium. Even with getting two recent draws at home, the Arrows are still struggling to get results at York Lions Stadium. Credit though to Houston, who saw this as a must-win game to keep their MLR playoff hopes alive.

Toronto-based rugby writer Raheem Bashir looks at multiple key points and reasons why the Arrows remain in a slump, and how they might pull themselves out of it.

The Toronto Arrows remain winless at York Lions Stadium

Toronto Arrows did not play well defensively

There were a few instances, where the Arrows gave up too much space. It also felt like the Arrows defence was too loose and gave Houston a lot of room to score tries in many different ways. A few examples include:

  • Drew Wild scored a try as he got past some Arrows players and there was nobody there to stop him as he scored the try for the Houston SaberCats.
  • Wynand Grassmann received a pass from South African, Louritz Van Der Schyff, and got a clear path to score.

Toronto Arrows made too many turnovers/mistakes

The Arrows had some trouble getting past Houston’s defence. It seemed like at times, when it looked like they were had an opportunity, they were not able to capitalize on the scoring opportunity. They were some instances of this like:

  • D’Shawn Bowen dropped the ball in the 20-minute of play.
  • Peter Nelson’s kick was not great in the 21-minute and the SaberCats started attacking.
  • The Arrows gave up the ball in the 23-minute, and committed a penalty in the 24-minute, which resulted in Houston taking possession and scoring another try in the 24-minute.
  • The Toronto Arrows was called for a turnover for holding the ball too long in the 72-minute.

Some of these turnovers/mistakes were preventable. However, some of it happened because of Houston’s solid defence as some credit needs to be given to them, for example, when Houston forced the Arrows to commit a turnover in the 54-minute. There were also times when the Arrows had trouble getting past the SaberCats half and ended up making up mistakes like turnovers to give possession back to the other team.

Louritz Van Der Schyff set the tone for the Houston SaberCats

Louritz Van Der Schyff was the player of the game as he scored the first two tries of the game and assisted in the third try for Houston scored by Grassmann.

  • Dominik Akina made a great run deep into the Arrows zone before giving up the ball to Van Der Schyff in the fifth minute of play.
  • From the scrum, Smit passed the ball to Van Der Schyff, who took care of the rest and overpowered the Arrows’ defence to score his second try of the game.

There were also other tries scored, like with Joe Taufeteʻe in the 47-minute from a maul. However, the success early in the game happened because of Schyff’s play.

Other factors: Owain Ruttan scored his first two MLR tries

It was a special day for the Cobourg native, Owain Ruttan, who was able to score two tries for his hometown club on Saturday. Granted, Arrows and Rugby Canada player, Lucas Rumball, played a big role with his positioning deep in Houston’s zone, but take nothing away from Ruttan, who will remember this day forever.

As for the Arrows, they have a tendency to start the game on the wrong foot, which will hurt a team when trying to get a result. Giving up the first 14 points of the game so early on like against Houston is not going to cut it when trying to make the MLR playoffs next year. This was also the case in their losses to teams like the New England Free Jacks and Rugby New York.

What this result means for both teams as the Toronto Arrows remain winless at home

Unfortunately, for the Toronto Arrows, they are battling with two other teams for the bottom of the league in MLR. Not getting a win at home will do that to a team needing to get results. They are already eliminated from the MLR playoffs and will need to wait until next year with needed changes in the coming off-season.

While, for Houston, this was a big win in the MLR playoffs picture. Not only did they get four points with a win, but they got at least four tries, which allowed them to get the bonus point. They are now ahead of the Utah Warriors thanks to that win with only two games left in the season for Houston. The Utah Warriors got the bonus point, but lost to the Seattle Seawolves, giving Houston a four-point edge for the third and final Western Conference playoff spot.

This is what Van Der Schyff said about the game to TSN after the game, knowing that the stakes for the SaberCats cannot be higher heading into the final stretch of the MLR 2023 season:

“It’s good. We got back on the winning wise. We are back at Boston you guys just got back last week (from there) we take each game out of time so basically, each game for us is a final, it is like a final and take each game as a final now.”

The SaberCats only have two games left with one at home. That game at home is coming on June 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET. They will host a desperate Old Glory DC side at SaberCats Stadium. They will then travel to Quincy, Massachusetts for a stiff test against the Eastern Conference-leading New England Free Jacks at Veterans Memorial Stadium on June 18 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The game against Old Glory DC will be shown live on AT&T SportsNet, MASN, and The Rugby Network. This is while the big game against New England will be shown live at FS1.

This is while the Arrows’ next two home games are on Sunday, June. 11 and Saturday, June, 17. The game on June 11 against the San Diego Legion will be at York Lions Stadium and will be televised nationally in Canada on TSN3 at 4:00 p.m. ET. That game will also be shown on The Rugby Network and CW (KFMB). They then end their season on June 17 as they host the NOLA Gold. That game will be shown on TSN+, as well as YURVIEW and The Rugby Network.


“Main photo credit”

Photo Credit: Kyle Gilmor of the Toronto Arrows on June 3, 2023.