Smith, Naikatini Take Home MVP Awards
In addition to taking home, Major League Rugby’s Championship Shield for the second year in a row with their 26-23 victory over the San Diego Legion, two members of the Seattle Seawolves will also take home a few extra bonuses for their performances throughout the MLR Championship Series.
Both scrum-half J.P. Smith and lock Apisai Naikatini received additional awards for their play over the last two weeks of the season. Smith earned the Most Valuable Player Award of the MLR Championship match while Naikatini received the Most Valuable Player Award of the entire Championship Series.
Smith’s award is a $1,000 voucher from Delta Air Lines, a leader in consumer experience and one of Fortune’s Top 50 Most Admired Companies. He finished the match with four carries for 40 meters, one line break, two tackle breaks, and a try while also making 11 tackles en route to the Seawolves’ second consecutive championship victory.
Naikatini played a pivotal role in a Seattle scrum that was crucial to the Seawolves success all season long and paid dividends in the playoffs. In the Seawolves 30-17 win over the Toronto Arrows in the semifinal round of the MLR Championship Series, Naikatini carried the ball seven times for 29 meters and made six tackles. He followed that performance up with eight carries for 31 meters, a try assist and eight tackles in the MLR Championship final to help the Seawolves secure the victory. As a result, he received the MVP of the MLR Championship Series which consists of a trip for two to the Langara Fishing Lodge in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.
The Langara Fishing Lodge has been a leader in recreational fishing for over 35 years and is a proud supporter of rugby in Canada, the United States, and all over the world.
About the Championship Series
Major League Rugby’s Championship series consists of two semi-final games and the MLR Championship game over the course of two weekends. Both semi-final matches were played on Sunday, June 9 with the San Diego Legion beating Rugby United New York at Torero Stadium, San Diego and the Seattle Seawolves beating the Toronto Arrows at Starfire Stadium, Seattle.
MLR is a professional rugby league launched in April of 2018. It’s an initiative of the North American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that North American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR will be the pinnacle of North American rugby, and provide a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for North American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes. There are already over 40 internationals and players from more than 15 countries playing in the MLR. Twenty-two MLR stars represented the USA Eagles and Canada national teams in the opening round of the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship, with more than 30 called up over the course of the tournament.
The teams that competed in MLR Season 2 are Austin Elite, Glendale Raptors, Houston SaberCats, New Orleans Gold, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, Utah Warriors plus new additions Rugby United New York and Toronto Arrows. In 2020, New England Free Jacks and Old Glory DC will bring the total to 11 teams for MLR Season 3.
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