2018 Major League Rugby Round 1 Tips
One of the most important weeks for American rugby is finally here with the beginning of the inaugural Major League Rugby season imminent. It has been suggested, rightly that it may be a wee bit premature to be making forecasts about a league still in its infancy (rather not even born yet). But it has also been suggested, again rightly, that for some it is a lot of fun and with the preseason finally complete we have a faint picture of how the regular season may unfold.
Last week I previewed how the ladder might look when the main rounds are over, this time I'm going to pick which teams will get their first ever MLR victories. Let's get stuck in.
April 21: New Orleans at Houston 3 PM ET
Both teams played against each other twice in the preseason making it easier to gauge how this might play out. Houston Sabercats came out on top convincingly 30-12 at home in February but NOLA stepped up their game and improved to a 32-all draw March. The Texans have had plenty more opportunities in pre-season matches (16 games) to gel as a playing unit than NOLA (5 games) and considering the game is being played in Houston, I am circling the Sabercats for the win a tight wrestle against an improving New Orleans. Look for big performances from Houston's quick and elusive Osea Kolinisau and Zach Pangelinan.
Tip: Houston by 5
April 21: Austin at Glendale 5 PM ET
The clearest tip of the round. The best performing pre-season side, the Glendale Raptors versus Austin Elite, a team which has found no success in their 3 outings. Glendale have looked polished and clinical in their undefeated 3 preseason games. Austin definitely have some strong players like Hanco Germishuys and veteran Andrew Suniula so anything is possible but I am picking the Raptors to take this rather comfortably based on available evidence. For a bit of excitement lookout for Glendale's Alex Tucci.
Tip: Glendale by 14
April 22: San Diego at Seattle 8 PM ET
San Diego have the strongest team on paper and played 3 games in the preseason (2-1 record). Seattle aren't too shabby on paper either but have only had a very recent scrimmage against a non-MLR squad. Based on this fact my tip is SD, especially if their forwards are on point and gain plenty of yards for their tremendous backline but apparently this game is a sellout which might prove to be a valuable motivating factor for the local team. If you are a fan of the hard stuff, big hits and all, look out for Seattle's Olive Kilifi.
Tip: San Diego by 3
UTAH vs BYE
Utah to smash the bye who never seem to show up. This perhaps deserves a mention so you know Utah is part of the league. They will battle San Diego on April 29.