Closer Look: The 2023 All-MLR First Team
Written by Joe Harvey
After the conclusion of the 2023 Major League Rugby season, to kick off the End of Season Awards, here is a closer look at the All-MLR First Team.
LOOSEHEAD PROP | JACK ISCARO, OLD GLORY DC
In a season in which Old Glory DC turned things around in emphatic fashion, Jack Iscaro stood above the rest with his efforts.
Involved in all 18 of his team’s games in 2023, the prop forward was a safe pair of hands at the scrum, helping the side to set out their stall on the way to the postseason for the first time.
At 25, the DC native is already a significant part of the Old Glory Machine, and supporters will be hoping that Iscaro will continue to be a major influence in the years to come.
HOOKER | DYLAN FAWSITT, NEW YORK IRONWORKERS
Scoring nine tries in 2023, Dylan Fawsitt continued to be a force in the front-row as the New York Ironworkers set out to protect their crown as the 2022 champions.
Starting in each of the 17 games he played in, the 32-year-old USA Eagle got his team’s set-piece rolling and was even deployed at No.8 at times because of his abilities will ball-in-hand.
Carrying the ball 105 times, Fawsitt gained 527 meters and even made 158 tackles, continuing his run as one of the league’s most consistent players.
TIGHTHEAD PROP | JUAN PABLO ZEISS, DALLAS JACKALS
For a second season in a row, Juan Pablo Zeiss finds himself in the All-MLR First Team. The Argentine picked up where he left off when moving from the Houston SaberCats to be part of Agustin Cavalieri’s Dallas Jackals.
Starting in 14 matches, the 33-year-old continued to be a rock at the scrum and helped the team that calls Choctaw Stadium home, pick up their first two MLR wins.
LEFT LOCK | SAM GOLLA, DALLAS JACKALS
In his first MLR season, the 2022 first-overall draft pick stepped into professional rugby relatively easily.
Starting in 16 games, the lock forward made 213 tackles for his team and scored three tries as the side grew under new coaching and turned their back on 2022.
An impressive player for the Jackals, Golla was rewarded with a USA call-up for his efforts and is one of the most exciting prospects in the league.
RIGHT LOCK | JOHAN MOMSEN, RUGBY ATL
Once again, Johan Momsen was imperious in the second-row. In his third season with Rugby ATL, the South African played in another 15 MLR matches and continued to display a well-rounded game.
In attack, the 27-year-old ran for 518 meters, made 169 tackles, and won seven turnovers. While it was not a vintage season for ATL, who finished 15 points from the playoffs, Momsen remained a leading light.
BLINDSIDE FLANKER | CHRISTIAN POIDEVIN, SAN DIEGO LEGION
Helping San Diego Legion back to the Championship Final for the first time since 2019, Christian Poidevin impressed massively as Danny Lee’s team finished as runners-up.
Playing in 12 matches, the Australian made 138 tackles, 11 of which were dominant, a staggering 15 turnovers in defense, and 11 turnovers at the breakdown.
OPENSIDE FLANKER | LANCE WILLIAMS, UTAH WARRIORS
Last season, Lance Williams made the All-MLR First Team thanks to a career year. This season, the 30-year-old maintained that form to be named in the team for a successive campaign.
Coming into 2023, Williams had freshly been capped as a USA Sevens Eagle and carried that confidence onto the pitch with the Utah Warriors. Starting 14 games, Williams scored five tries, ran for 630 meters, and made 178 tackles.
NO.8 | WIAN CONRADIE, NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
Starting in 16 matches, Namibia international Wian Conradie was faultless for the New England Free Jacks as the side went on to lift the MLR Shield for the first time in Chicago.
From 216 carries, Conradie ran for an astonishing 1560 meters, beating 21 defenders and scoring seven tries in the process.
Even making 234 tackles in defense, it was a massively impressive campaign for the 28-year-old who now goes into Rugby World Cup 2023 preparations in fine form.
SCRUM-HALF | RICHARD JUDD, SAN DIEGO LEGION
To marshal San Diego Legion in 2023, the team turned to Richard Judd. A veteran of professional rugby in his native New Zealand and Japan, the 31-year-old produced impeccable performance after impeccable performance for head coach, Danny Lee.
Starting in all of the 14 games he was involved with, Judd bagged seven tries for his team and consistently kept his team on the front foot consistently as they charged to an 11-game unbeaten run across the regular season and an unbeaten campaign at Snapdragon Stadium.
FLY-HALF | JAYSON POTROZ, NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
In his first MLR season, Jayson Potroz enjoyed a mesmeric campaign for the New England Free Jacks on the team’s way to lifting the Shield.
Player of the Match in the Championship Final, Potroz was simply unflappable. Starting 16 matches, the 31-year-old kicked 47 conversions and 15 penalties while running for over 1000 meters.
But while stats tell one part of the story, the playmaker’s natural ability to control the game and launch scintillating attacks at will, sets him apart from the crowd.
LEFT WING | NATE AUGSPURGER, SAN DIEGO LEGION
In his sixth season with the San Diego Legion, Nate Augspurger excelled and moved to the wing for Danny Lee’s team.
Crossing the try line on 11 occasions, the 33-year-old was a constant threat for the team, combining to devastating effect with his teammates and using his decade’s worth of experience to good effect.
Running for 1859 meters, Augspurger made an average of 12 meters with ball-in-hand and beat 48 defenders.
INSIDE CENTER | LE ROUX MALAN, NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
In spite of missing several matches because of injury, Le Roux Malan finished the 2023 season in fantastic form and scored the try, which won the New England Free Jacks a title.
Starting in 10 matches and scoring nine tries, the Namibia international ran for 1132 meters and beat 22 defenders, the 24-year-old devastating in attack for Scott Mathie’s side, his potential seemingly growing with every outing.
OUTSIDE CENTER | BEN LESAGE, NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
His first season at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Ben LeSage was a force of nature for the New England Free Jacks as the side traveled the road to success.
As we have seen since the center’s first foray into MLR with the Toronto Arrows, LeSage does every facet of the game well.
Running for 822 meters, making 105 tackles, and winning 10 turnovers for the 15 games he was in, there was much to like from the 27-year-old.
RIGHT WING | TOMAS AOAKE, SAN DIEGO LEGION
Much like his teammate on the other wing, Tomas Aoake crossed the whitewash on 11 occasions for the San Diego Legion.
A potent threat for the Californians, the 27-year-old New Zealander is in just his second season with the team and started in 15 matches.
Scoring two tries in the Western Conference Final, Aoake was the beneficiary of a hardened Legion forward pack, running for 1352 meters and beating 51 defenders.
FULL-BACK | MIKEY TE’O, SAN DIEGO LEGION
Playing in 18 games for the San Diego Legion as the team returned to the Championship Final, Mikey Te’o was back to his best in 2023.
Scoring six tries, the 29-year-old was a secondary playmaker at full-back, helping his teammates across the try line and helping the side to the top of the Western Conference.
Two years after his Player of the Year recognition, the anticipation of Te’o taking the league by storm again in 2024 is high.
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Written by Joe Harvey | Photos Provided by Rick Rose Ricky Rose
Written by Joe Harvey Picked second overall in the 2023 Major League
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