Get to Know the 2022 All-MLR First Team
With the 2022 Major League Rugby season having come to a close at the end of June, it is time to turn to the awards. In the coming weeks, the End of Season Awards will be coming thick and fast, kicking off with the All-MLR Team selections.
LOOSEHEAD PROP, CHANCE WENGLEWSKI – RUGBY NEW YORK
Immediately there is a recall to the All-MLR First Team for Chance Wenglewski. Having swapped Rugby ATL for Rugby New York in 2022, things couldn’t have gone better for the 25-year-old.
Winning the competition with New York, the loosehead prop played in 18 games for Marty Veale’s side and made 162 tackles.
Of course, it was at the set piece where Wenglewski really earned the nod on this side, his dominance clear throughout the season thanks to his three appearances in the First XV of the week.
HOOKER, DYLAN FAWSITT – RUGBY NEW YORK
One of the leaders in the Rugby New York setup, Dylan Fawsitt’s years of service to the team ended with the hooker lifting the shield at Red Bull Arena on June 25th.
Like Wenglewski, Fawsitt played a part in 18 games for New York this season and scored seven tries across the campaign.
Consistently relied upon by his team, Fawsitt was one of the keys to New York’s impressive lineout and even played out of position when called upon in the Eastern Eliminator against Rugby ATL.
TIGHTHEAD PROP, JUAN PABLO ZEISS – HOUSTON SABERCATS
Former Argentina international, Juan Pablo Zeiss took to MLR life like a duck to water. Playing 14 games, the South American would start 13 of those games and impress for every minute he was on the field.
A powerful scrummager, Zeiss’ efforts saw him recognized in the First XV of the week on no less than four occasions. A major part of the first Houston SaberCats team to make the playoffs, the 32-year-olds efforts cannot be ignored.
LEFT LOCK, JOHAN MOMSEN – RUGBY ATL
Last season’s Forward of the Year, Johan Momsen backed up a mesmeric 2021 with another strong campaign in 2022.
Starting 15 of the 16 games he was involved with this season, the South African made a whopping 176 tackles and contributed four tries as his team made the playoffs again.
RIGHT LOCK, BEN MITCHELL – SAN DIEGO LEGION
A near constant for his team, Ben Mitchell has always been one of the top performers in any team he has played on.
This season was no different, as the US-qualified lock started 16 games in 2022, scored three tries and made 167 tackles.
Operating the Legion lineout, Mitchell was a delight to see in action, his four selections in the First XV of the week testament to this.
BLINDSIDE FLANKER, LANCE WILLIAMS – UTAH WARRIORS
In 2022, Lance Williams made a habit of churning out dominant performance after dominant performance in a Utah Warriors jersey.
Registering five tries was just one part of what the fifth year back-row was able to achieve, who also carried the ball 131 times and made a staggering 1,027 meters with the ball in hand, much of his efforts giving Utah front foot ball and was even a rock in defense with 173 tackles.
OPENSIDE FLANKER, BRENDAN O’CONNOR – RUGBY NEW YORK
Upon signing for Rugby New York, it was clear that Brendan O’Connor had plenty of experience to offer his new team.
At 32, the New Zealander has played in Super Rugby and the English Premiership and contributed hugely to New York’s maiden MLR championship.
Playing in 16 games, O’Connor carried the ball 718 meters with ball in hand, made 222 tackles and made six turnovers.
8., LACHLAN MCCAFFREY – AUSTIN GILGRONIS
Playing in 12 games for the Austin Gilgronis this season, each time that Lachlan McCaffrey wore burnt orange, he was virtually unplayable.
Scoring three tries and making 618 meters across his 98 carries, the former Leicester Tigers back-row also made 104 tackles and caused three turnovers. A well-rounded campaign.
SCRUM-HALF, JP SMITH – SEATTLE SEAWOLVES
Another constant in his club’s colors, JP Smith had another fine campaign in Seawolves colors. Part of what made his season so impressive was not only his durability, but the way at which the 28-year-old dictated play with an almost telepathic understanding of which direction to direct play or elect to use the boot.
In the latter part of the season, it was partly thanks to the South African’s relationship with his fly-half, AJ Alatimu, that the Seawolves were able to make the Championship Final.
FLY-HALF, BEAUDEIN WAAKA – NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
From the very first whistle in 2022, Beaudein Waaka was one of the stars of the season. His efforts for the New England Free Jacks contributed to the team’s 10-straight wins, and Scott Mathie’s side finished the regular season as the number one seed.
As a playmaker, Waaka was unflappable, the 28-year-old displayed an impressive kicking game with just one kick in general play ruled as an error, the former sevens international will be a big miss next year as he joins up with Kobelco Steelers in Japan for next season.
LEFT WING, ED FIDOW – RUGBY NEW YORK
When it comes to Ed Fidow, the Samoan’s selection in the team of the season was a relatively simple decision. Leading the league in tries scored, the former Bordeaux Begles and Worcester Warriors wing was electric on the flanks for Rugby New York and registered 12 tries.
It was that ability to find the try line that contributed to New York’s reaching the playoffs, and we would have seen more of Fidow in the postseason if it weren’t for a knee injury sustained in the Eliminator Round against Rugby ATL.
INSIDE CENTER, BILLY MEAKES – LA GILTINIS
The reigning Back of the Year, Billy Meakes picked up exactly from where he left off in 2021. Leading the league in meters gained this most recent season, the 31-year-old made a fairly staggering 1,552 meters with ball in hand.
Like last year, it is in defense that Meakes made his mark. Completing 166 tackles, the Australian also won six turnovers and was a near constant at the breakdown in defense, as he was the first arrival at defensive rucks on 80 occasions.
OUTSIDE CENTER, MARK O’KEEFFE – AUSTIN GILGRONIS
Having had an extremely strong season in 2021 for Rugby ATL, Mark O’Keeffe was a dominant force this year for the Austin Gilgronis.
Starting all 14 of the games he played in 2022, O’Keeffe scored eight tries for Sam Harris’ side and gained 1,200 meters across 111 carries of the ball.
Beating an impressive 33 defenders, and making 13 clean breaks, you can only hope to expect more from the Irish midfielder.
RIGHT WING, MITCH WILSON – NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
A breakout season for Mitch Wilson in New England Free Jacks colors, the wing has quite rightly been rewarded with the opportunity to represent the USA this summer as the Eagles hunt for Rugby World Cup qualification against Chile.
Starting 14 games, the Australia-born back registered seven tries, made 836 meters and even made 107 tackles. A well-rounded rugby player, the former Life University player will scarily be looking to push on further in 2023.
FULL-BACK, DUNCAN MATTHEWS – SEATTLE SEAWOLVES
Crossing the whitewash on seven occasions in 2022, Duncan Matthews in full flight was nothing short of pure delight this season.
Capable of making his team meters with relative ease, the full-back made 1,489 with ball in hand, beat 25 defenders and made 11 clean breaks in an impressive personal season.
Missed by the Seattle Seawolves in the Championship Final, Matthews offered his team so many opportunities and was one of 2022 stars.
Written by Joe Harvey
Written By Joe Harvey I Photos By Paris Malone On the final
Written By Joe Harvey I Photos provided By USA Rugby Drawing with
The Chicago Hounds will compete as 12th MLR team in the 2023
Dallas (November 15, 2022) — Major League Rugby (MLR) has announced that
Written By Joe Harvey I Photos By World Rugby / Getty Images
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