2022 Major League Rugby Final

The 2022 Major League Rugby Final was the fourth Major League Rugby (MLR) championship match, held at the conclusion of the 5th season of the rugby union club competition in North America. The match was played on June 25, 2022, at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. It was the first MLR Final to be held in New Jersey, and the first not to be held in California.[1] Rugby New York emerged victorious over the Seattle Seawolves by a score of 30-15.

2022 Major League Rugby Final
Event2022 season
DateJune 25, 2022
Venue Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Man of the MatchAndy Ellis
RefereeFederico Anselmi (Argentina)
Attendance1,979
Weather92 °F (33 °C) • Sunny
2021
2023 →

BackgroundEdit

On November 9, 2021, Major League Rugby announced the format of the 2022 season and post-season.[2] The competition would expand to 13 teams with the addition of the Dallas Jackals, and all teams would play 16 games over the 18 week regular season. Teams would again be divided into 2 conferences, Eastern and Western. Due to the odd number of teams, the Western conference would feature 7 teams, and the Eastern conference would have 6 teams. Also, this marked the first time in competition history that teams would not face all other opposition teams in a season. Western teams would face their conference rivals in a double round-robin format, and face 4 Eastern teams, either home or away. Eastern teams would face their conference rivals in a double round-robin format, with one additional game. They would then face the Western teams on 5 occasions, to complete the 16 games required for the season.

For the post-season, MLR introduced a first-round, single game playoff, called Eliminators. The 2nd ranked team in each conference would host the 3rd ranked team, while the 1st ranked team would receive a bye week. The following weekend, the 1st ranked team would host the winner of their conference's Eliminator in their Conference Final. The winner of both Conference Finals would meet in the Championship Final, to determine the winner of the 2022 season.[2]

On June 3, 2022, MLR announced that the Austin Gilgronis were disqualified from the 2022 post-season, due to "violation of league rules".[3] Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Eastern-qualified teams all had greater table points than any of the Western-qualified teams. As such, the 2022 Championship Final was guaranteed to be hosted by an Eastern Conference team for the first time.[4]

On June 7, 2022, MLR announced that the LA Giltinis were also disqualified from the 2022 post-season, again due to "violation of league rules".

2022 Regular Season Standings
Western Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Austin Gilgronis (D) 16 12 0 4 475 229 +246 64 27 9 1 58
2 LA Giltinis (D) 16 11 0 5 443 283 +160 6 36 9 1 54
3 Houston SaberCats (Q) 16 9 0 7 408 393 +15 61 53 8 4 48
4 Seattle Seawolves (Q) 16 9 0 7 435 354 +73 54 45 6 4 46
5 San Diego Legion (Q) 16 8 0 8 475 428 +47 59 54 8 3 43
6 Utah Warriors (E) 16 5 0 11 424 395 +29 57 56 6 7 33
7 Dallas Jackals (E) 16 0 0 16 198 752 -554 27 112 2 2 4
Eastern Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 New England Free Jacks (Q) 16 13 0 3 454 328 +126 63 45 8 2 62
2 Rugby ATL (Q) 16 11 0 5 468 340 +128 64 43 11 2 57
3 Rugby New York (Q) 16 11 0 5 433 408 +25 63 57 10 2 56
4 Toronto Arrows (E) 16 8 0 8 414 390 +24 53 56 7 2 41
5 New Orleans Gold (E) 16 4 0 12 358 517 -159 50 72 6 3 25
6 Old Glory DC (E) 16 3 0 13 423 591 -168 66 85 8 3 23

Green background indicates teams in position for the Conference Finals
Blue background indicates teams in position for the Conference Semi-Finals
Austin Gilgronis and LA Giltinis were disqualified (D) from any 2022 postseason play.[3]

Last Updated: June 6, 2022

Championship SeriesEdit

Eastern ConferenceEdit

The Eastern Eliminator featured Rugby ATL hosting Rugby New York at Silverbacks Park. This marked the successive year of Atlanta hosting New York in the Championship Series, having faced each other in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final.

The first half of the match was focused on defensive decisions, and forcing penalties, as the visitors led 9-6 at halftime. The first try of the game was scored in the 44th minute, when referee Mike Lash awarded a penalty try to New York. Although Atlanta reduced the deficit with penalties, New York scored another try from the driving maul to effectively seal their victory. Atlanta were able to score a consolation try at the end of the match, but were unable to overcome New York.


June 11 Rugby ATL 19–26 Rugby New York Silverbacks Park  
20:30 EDT Try: Kurt Coleman 80+2'
Con: Kurt Coleman (1/1) 80+3'
Pen: Kurt Coleman (4/4) 34', 40+2', 58', 65'
Cards: Connor Cook   2'
Report Try: Penalty try 44'
Dylan Fawsitt 73'
Con: Automatic conversion 44'
Jason Emery (1/1) 74'
Pen: Jason Emery (4/4) 4', 19', 27', 79'
Cards: Nick Civetta   50'
Referee: Mike Lash (NZR)

Assistants: Federico Anselmi (UAR) & Jack Gohl (RA)

TMO: Nick Hannon (USAR)

Man of the Match: Dylan Fawsitt (Rugby New York)

The Conference Final was hosted by the New England Free Jacks, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. This was New England's first appearance in the Championship Series since joining the league in 2020.

Although New England were able to score first and maintained the lead at half-time, it was New York that was able to seal the victory with two tries in the second half. The victory marked New York's first Eastern Conference Championship win, and the first time that the team that finished first in the Eastern Conference did not reach the Championship Final.


June 19 New England Free Jacks 16–24 Rugby New York Veterans Memorial Stadium  
15:00 EDT Try: Beaudein Waaka 4'
Con: Beaudein Waaka (1/1) 5'
Pen: Beaudein Waaka (3/3) 17', 28', 46'
Cards: Reegan O'Gorman   73'
Report Try: Benjamín Bonasso 19'
Nehe Milner-Skudder 69'
Andrew Coe 76'
Con: Jason Emery (1/1) 20'
Sam Windsor (2/2) 70', 77'
Pen: Jason Emery (1/2) 32'
Attendance: 3,500
Referee: Federico Anselmi (UAR)

Assistants: Mike Lash (NZR) & Cisco Lopez (USAR)

TMO: Nick Hannon (USAR)

Man of the Match: Andrew Coe (Rugby New York)

Western ConferenceEdit

The Western Eliminator featured the Seattle Seawolves hosting the San Diego Legion at Starfire Stadium. Seattle and San Diego returned to the Championship Series for the first time since 2019, where both teams contested in that season's Championship Final.

Although San Diego were the first team to get on the scoreboard, the impressive points total from AJ Alatimu alone was enough to see off the Legion, as Seattle claimed a fifth successive win in their MLR post-season matches, as well as a 3-0 winning streak over San Diego.


June 12 Seattle Seawolves 43–19 San Diego Legion Starfire Sports Stadium  
19:00 PDT Try: Sam Matenga 11'
Duncan Matthews 19'
Travis Larsen 62'
Ross Neal 67'
Con: AJ Alatimu (3/3) 12', 20', 68'
Automatic conversion 62'
Pen: AJ Alatimu (5/5) 7', 14', 46', 56', 74'
Cards: Riekert Hattingh   50'
Report Try: Nate Augspurger 2'
Tevita Tameilau 28'
Jason Higgins 77'
Con: Joe Pietersen (2/2) 3', 29'
Josh Henderson (0/1)
Referee: Scott Green (USAR)

Assistants: Luke Rogan (USAR) & Lex Weiner (USAR)

TMO: Austin Reed (USAR)

Man of the Match: Duncan Matthews (Seattle Seawolves)

The Conference Final was hosted by the Houston SaberCats, at AVEVA Stadium. This was the first time Houston had reached the Championship Series, and the first Championship Series game ever to be hosted in Texas.

Despite scoring first, Houston were outmatched by Seattle, with the visitors able to take the lead early on in the match, and retained it throughout the game. This result awards Seattle their first Western Conference Championship, their third appearance in the Championship Final, and the first time the first-ranked team in the Western Conference did not reach the Championship Final (since the conference system was introduced.)


June 18 Houston SaberCats 27–46 Seattle Seawolves Aveva Stadium  
19:00 EDT Try: David Coetzer 6'
Gerrie Labuschagné 42'
Christian Dyer (2) 47', 75'
Con: David Coetzer (2/4) 7', 48'
Pen: Gerrie Labuschagné (1/1) 13'
Report Try: James Malcolm 17'
Juan-Philip Smith 29'
Duncan Matthews (2) 31', 60'
Mzamo Majola 54'
Ross Neal 57'
Con: AJ Alatimu (4/5) 32', 55', 58', 61'
Automatic conversion 29'
Pen: AJ Alatimu (2/2) 9', 24'
Attendance: 2,341
Referee: Scott Green (USAR)

Assistants: Luke Rogan (USAR) & Kahlil Harrison (USAR)

TMO: Derek Summers (USAR)

Man of the Match: AJ Alatimu (Seattle Seawolves)

VenueEdit

On June 21, it was announced that the Championship Final would be held at the Red Bull Arena, in Harrison, New Jersey. The Arena had previously hosted rugby union matches, including an Premiership Rugby match between London Irish and Saracens, as well as an International game between the United States and Ireland.[1] Furthermore, this marks the first time that an MLR Championship Final match was held at a venue that wasn't the home ground of any MLR team.

BroadcastingEdit

The match was broadcast in the United States on Fox Sports, and available internationally on The Rugby Network.

Championship FinalEdit

DetailsEdit

June 25 Rugby New York 30–15 Seattle Seawolves Red Bull Arena  
12:00 EDT Try: Will Tucker 8'
Penalty try 24'
Andy Ellis 35'
Nic Mayhew '56
Con: Jason Emery (1/3) 9'
Automatic conversion 24'
Pen: Jason Emery (1/2) 50'
Drop: Sam Windsor (1/1) 73'
Cards: Will Tucker   66'
Report Try: Martin Iosefo 4'
Sam Matenga 61'
Con: AJ Alatimu (1/2) 62'
Pen: AJ Alatimu (1/1) 13'
Cards: Rhyno Herbst   24'
Attendance: 1,979
Referee: Federico Anselmi (UAR)

Assistants: Mike Lash (NZR) & Cisco Lopez (USAR)

TMO: Nick Hannon (USAR)

Man of the Match: Andy Ellis (Rugby New York)

Team details
FB 15   Nehe Milner Skudder
RW 14   Waisake Naholo
OC 13   Fa'asiu Fuatai
IC 12   Jason Emery
LW 11   Andrew Coe
FH 10   Jack Heighton
SH 9   Andy Ellis
N8 8   Antonio Kiri Kiri
OF 7   Brendon O'Connor
BF 6   Will Tucker
RL 5   Nate Brakeley (c)
LL 4   Ben Bonasso (vc)
TP 3   Wilton Rebolo
HK 2   Dylan Fawsitt
LP 1   Chance Wenglewski
Replacements:
HK 16   Kaleb Geiger
PR 17   Nic Mayhew
PR 18   Kalolo Tuiloma
LK 19   Nick Civetta
FL 20   Joe Basser
SH 21   Conor McManus
FH 22   Sam Windsor
CE 23   Quinn Ngawati
Coach:
  Marty Veale
FB 15   Mat Turner
RW 14   Ross Neal
OC 13   Dan Kriel
IC 12   David Busby
LW 11   Martin Iosefo
FH 10   AJ Alatimu
SH 9   Juan-Philip Smith
N8 8   Riekert Hattingh (c)
OF 7   Travis Larsen
BF 6   Andrew Durutalo
RL 5   Rhyno Herbst
LL 4   Samu Manoa
TP 3   Samuel Matenga
HK 2   James Malcolm
LP 1   Mzamo Majola
Replacements:
HK 16   Sean McNulty
PR 17   Kellen Gordon
PR 18   Taniela Tupou
LK 19   Brad Tucker
FL 20   Tommy Clark
SH 21   Reid Watkins
CE 22   Tavite Lopeti
WG 23   Launia Futi
Coach:
  Allen Clarke

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Major League Rugby Final to be played at Red Bull Arena". Americas Rugby News. 21 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Major League Rugby Releases 2022 Season Schedule". Major League Rugby. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  3. ^ a b "MLR Competition Update". Major League Rugby. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  4. ^ "MLR Championship Final Headed East". The Rugby Network. Retrieved 6 June 2022.