A Shot at the Championship Shield
Sunday’s Major League Rugby Championship presents the top-ranked San Diego Legion and the defending champion Seattle Seawolves with an opportunity to etch their names in the history books.
“It’s the biggest game of the year, more pressure, more nerves, more fun,” Seawolves lock Brad Tucker said. “It’s why we play.”
The Seawolves and the Legion are competing to be the second team to hoist the MLR Championship Shield. The 35-kilogram shield, which stands nearly three feet tall, is made of carbon and titanium steel.
For members of the Seawolves, the opportunity to defend their title and become the only team to ever hoist the unique piece of hardware means something different to everyone.
Sunday’s championship match will be a special one for newcomer Ben Cima for a few different reasons. Not only will he be helping the Seawolves defend their title, but he will also be doing so against his former team.
“Being able to compete for a championship is something we’ve been working towards and talking about for months as a group but the job isn’t done until we finish this game,” Cima said. “San Diego has beat us twice in the regular season so it would be a bit unfulfilling if we didn’t get a shot at redemption against them in the final. San Diego also being the team I played for last season adds some spice to the match up for me personally. Overall, I’m just happy to be able to play one more week of rugby.”
While Sunday’s championship match is a bit more personal for Cima, back-to-back championships would further cement the positive direction that the franchise is heading in for forward Riekert Hattingh.
“Winning the championship for me will mean that the team and the whole Seawolves organization is heading in the right direction,” Hattingh said. “It’s one thing to get to the top, but it’s a different animal staying there.”
For wing Brock Staller, who has been a key contributor on both the 2018 and 2019 Seawolves squads, a shot to defend their title is what he and the team have worked for all season long. Now that they have put themselves in a position to win back-to-back titles, a win on Sunday would mean the world for the MLR’s leading scorer in 2019.
“Winning the shield means everything,” Staller said. “It was a very emotional moment for myself and our entire team last season. We overcame adversity as a collective and formed bonds that have strengthened the playing group this year. Our goal has been to improve our play, week over week, to give ourselves an opportunity to defend the shield. Our teamwork, determination, and performance against Toronto shows that we are ready and peaking at the right time.”
The MLR Championship will kick off at 4 PM ET on Sunday, June 16 and will be broadcast on CBS.
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