RUNY GRAB HISTORIC FIRST WIN IN THEIR MLR DEBUT AGAINST THE SAN DIEGO LEGION 25 – 23
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York (January 28th 2019) – Rugby United NY opened their first MLR campaign with a heart wrenching first win against the San Diego Legion, which was sure to have every RUNY fan on the edge of their seat. In what was a tough fought, scrappy slugfest between the two sides, the blue and orange were able to find themselves on the right side of a 25 – 23 final score.
The match started with RUNY quickly testing the Legion’s defense, with an expansive game that allowed for the speed and ball carrying ability of their back three to shine. At fullback, USA Eagle Luke Hume from first whistle made sure to get ball in hand and be a driving force for RUNY’s offense. He finished the match with 106 carrying meters, a stat that lead all players on the day and was instrumental in setting up RUNY’s first ever try for USA 7’s star Chris Mattina on the wing. After breaking the Legion’s line, Hume was able to free up his hands for an offload to Mattina who cut back in from the sideline for a try eight meters in from the corner at the 9 minute mark.
RUNY’s second try came just short of the 23rd minute mark, after relentless attempts chipping away at the Legion’s line. Finally, RUNY were able to move the ball through the back lines hands where, once again, Hume was able to make a carry that sucked in the last couple of defenders before shoveling it on to Wallace-Sims.
With a Legionnaire bearing down on him, Wallace-Sims was able to keep his cool, activating his scintillating speed to best his opposite number for a diving try into the corner for RUNY’s second.
With the boot of Marsh adding a penalty to the dominating opening 30 RUNY put on, the game looked to be heading for a blowout at 15 – 0. However, right before half time, San Diego’s own USA national, Nick Boyer, was able to dot down for the Legion’s first try of the MLR season. At scrum half, Boyer was able to beat the defense by pulling the ball from the ruck 5 meters out, and running it straight at the post defender. After breaking the tackle of the nearest man Boyer cut back in and crashed over with a United player on top of him. Heading into the half now only up by eight, the RUNY lead looked less secure than the dominating half had felt.
Throughout the second it was by the boot of captain Joe Pietersen that the Legion were able to seize control of the momentum of the game in the second half. Pietersen was even able to grab a try of his own after the Legion were stopped just short of the line. Standing at first receiver Pietersen took the ball and ran it in strong crashing over the line for 5 through 3 RUNY tacklers. Nailing a perfect 3/3 on penalty kicks and 2/2 for conversions, Pietersen’s steady boot almost took the dream start from RUNY as the Legion went up by a score of 23 – 18 as the last ten began.
However, in the final five minutes RUNY’s persistence paid off after hammering away at the Legion line with an impressive showing from the RUNY forward pack. Having maintained a disciplined attack, free of unforced errors and with a good showing in the rucks, captain Mike Petri spotted a gap turning the ball back to the blind side. In desperation, Legion winger Save Totovasau reached out a hand knocking the ball on, killing RUNY’s attack. After consultation with his touch judge, referee Paul – Henri Courbier decided that the RUNY player would of scored had Totovasau not intervened, blowing his whistle for a penalty try bumping the score line to 25 – 23 with less than 5 minutes to go. RUNY was able to hold on for the win in the end with 19 of the 23 man squad earning their cap for RUNY in their first ever game.
Positives from the Game:
The RUNY win came with a number of impressive points for the players to take away. The first point which stood out in RUNY’s first W, was the consistency of RUNY’s set piece play which is sure to please forwards coach Kees Lensing. The forward pack, led by vice captain Dylan Fawsitt, won 100% of their scrums whilst simultaneously forcing 2 penalties on Legion scrums. They also were 13/13 on their own lineout feeds with Fawsitt’s throw ins repeatedly finding their mark.
Also sure to please was the strength of the backline throughout the game. On debut and still inexperienced playing together, the combination of Leinster man Cathal Marsh at fly half, Munster product Will Leonard at inside center and English national team rep Ben Foden at outside center proved to be deadly. Marsh went a solid ⅔ from the tee and repeatedly gained massive meters on penalties when kicking for touch. Will Leonard carried the ball for the 2nd most amount of meters in the game at 103, falling just 3 shy of teammate Luke Hume. Leonard was also in the opinion of Team Manager James English a top candidate for man of the match having a monster game all round in spite of a nagging hamstring injury that was bothering the Irishman throughout the game. Finally and perhaps most impressively, the trio all had 12 tackles, which had them tied for 2nd for RUNY behind only lock Nate Brakeley at 14. With such a hard hitting showing on defense and only 1 handling error amongst the three for the game, the trio are already looking like the most deadly inside backline on both sides of the ball in Major League Rugby.
Hume and Wallace-Sims were both named to the MLR First XV of the week for their strong games in San Diego, as well as their link up try making the top five highlights of the weekly wrap up. With equally impressive Chris Mattina on the other wing Coach Tolkin will have no shortage of offensive weapons for the game.
Things to work on after the Game:
If there is anything to be concerned over for Coach Tolkin after watching his side make history in their debut, it would be the lack of discipline shown by RUNY throughout the game. Finishing the game with 19 penalties, more than double that of the Legion, as well as a yellow card for replacement flanker Matt Hughston. It was through these penalties that San Diego’s captain Joe Pietersen was able to bring his side back into the game. It can be put down to both nerves for many of the players first pro rugby game, as well as game fitness making for tired minds out on the pitch. Both of these issues shouldn’t be cause for concern to RUNY fans as theY are easily fixed in the coming 20 days before RUNY’s second bout against the NOLA Gold, who put up an impressive opening game against the Austin Elite to put them on top of the table with a bonus point win.
Rugby United New York will continue their 2019 Major League Rugby season in New Orleans, when they face off against the Gold on February 16h at 3 PM EST. The game will be available LIVE on both SNY and ESPN+.
About Rugby United New York
Rugby United New York is a professional rugby team who joined Major League Rugby as an associate member in 2018, playing a brief, but successful exhibition season. Their first full MLR schedule will take place in 2019. When they officially join the league, RUNY’s vision is to bring the excitement of professional rugby to the New York sports landscape. The use of rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, and discipline will help to educate, inspire and connect with the New York Community. Rugby United New York, the city’s first professional rugby franchise, strives to unite the entire rugby community and enrich it at every level throughout the region. The team was founded by James Kennedy of the Murphy Kennedy Group, who is an active supporter of grassroots rugby.
MLR is a professional rugby league that launched in April of 2018. It’s an initiative of the American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR is the pinnacle of American rugby, and provides a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes. For more information, visit usmlr.com.
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