Seattle defend MLR crown before season three expansion
The game was a thriller, four tries to two shown live by CBS, a fitting end to a second season which brought rewards as well as challenges.
Before the game, MLR commissioner Dean Howes said: “It was our sophomore year and we grew a little bit, and that’s an atypical thing in the world of sports. Your second year is usually kind of a tough year, and I think we grew and I think we’re poised to build.”
MLR began in 2018 with seven teams then added Toronto Arrows and Rugby United New York. Both made the playoffs. In 2020 the league will welcomethe New England Free Jacks, Old Glory DC and Rugby ATL. The first two have played games in Boston and Washington; Atlanta are starting to sign up players.
“I think Boston and DC had some really shining moments on the games they put on,” Howes said, “Atlanta’s going to put some on in a little while. So I think they’ll jump in and be equal to anybody.
“I think it’s still a young enough league that a coach and good player selection and a good system can make a huge difference.”
As much as a reference to work done by head coach Richie Walker and player-coach Phil Mack in Seattle, where the enormous MLS Shield will remain on its reinforced shelf, that could have been a nod to Atlanta, where James Walker and Paul Holmes are quietly signing college products.
True to their brash home city, New York have been more noisy, signing the England full-back Ben Foden and last week unveiling a big name for season two, Mathieu Bastareaud, 54 caps and 300lbs of French international centre.
“This is sports in United States,” Howes said. “New York is New York. It gets the attention because quite frankly it deserves it.
“Now that said, I think James [Kennedy, RUNY owner] has been very proactive, to build on that. And so it’s kind of the icing on the cake that you have an owner there that is making a lot of things happen.”
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