Big Stakes in the Big Apple: Week 13 MLR Preview

Jun 12, 2021 | Blog, News


Big Stakes in the Big Apple

Week 13 Major League Rugby Preview

Rugby United New York vs. Rugby ATL

The two teams at the top of the table in the Eastern Conference will battle tomorrow in the Fresh Meadows of Queensjust outside the shadows of the New York City Skyline.

These two teams met back in Week 4 when again, Rugby ATL was on top of the table.  Some faces will change as they take the pitch Sunday afternoon at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University. Relentless commitment to defense has been the driving force in the last seven victories for Rugby ATL.  Last week’s devastating defensive effort concluded the Rivalry Series sweep of NOLA Gold, including 15+ phases of heartfelt stops inside of their own 5m line.

The front row for Rugby ATL will stay consistent with the young props Chance Wenglewski and Wikus Groenewald being anchored down by the veteran Marko Janse Van Rensburg in the middle. Conor Keys, who was named to the Rugby Canada’s 40-man roster for the summer internationals, will get the nod for the first time this year alongside Johan Momsen in the second row.

The journeyman Connor “Cookie” Cook also makes his return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench last week, ending his rehab battle to get back into the active roster. 

The dynamic duo of Deacon and Damm have played tough hard-nosed American rugby, sharing time at the 8 position. This is the first time they’ll both be featured in the starting roster, and anyone who knows Rosco knows he fizzes for claiming that first tone-setting hit.

Ryan Rees will distribute directly to Adriaan Carelse, who has been increasingly more impactful as the weeks go on, especially in the kicking game. Te Rangatira Waitokia and Batu Ezcurra will take charge of the centers as they look to win their battle against the hard-carrying and very skillful RUNY centers, Fa’asiu Fuatai (NZ)  and Quinn Ngawati (CAN).

Mark O’Keeffe and the “The Missile” (Jeremy Misailegalu) had the Herculean highlights last week, not for flash, but for pinning their ears back and out-working their opponents. These two are playing with confidence and their energy tanks get bigger every week. Look for these two electricians to provide big sparks from the outside.

Rory Van Vugt will round out the attack from the back and wear 15 again this week. His decision-making in key moments under pressure will give the fullback the responsibility of wearing the (C) again this week.

Experienced leadership is the biggest difference RUNY has over many of the other teams in Major League Rugby right now, and certainly a factor as to why they’re currently playing the most complete rugby across the league. Dylan Fawsitt, Andy Ellis, and Nate Brakely have established a “Championship Mindset” for RUNY and their commitment to those standards has shown.

Pride is always on the line between these two franchises, which have been founded on very similar traditions and pedigrees of American rugby clubs and Universities. Fans for each of these teams will be at the edge of their seats with every pass, line break, and tackle as the same traditions clash, just in different colors. 

Like everything else in New York, the table points will be expensive this Sunday. The 23 who are more consistently willing to pay that toll for their team will escape with the points needed to remain in the driver seat of the Eastern Conference. 

Leave the remote, grab the cannolis, and get ready for Sunday afternoon rugby from the Big Apple.


Date: Sunday, June 13

Venue: St. John’s University

Kickoff: 2:00 PM EST

Referee: Frederico Anselmi (ARG)

Broadcasts: The Rugby Network, FSNY

Watch Party: Reformation Brewery, Smyrna

Forecast: 73℉ & Cloudy


Tale of the Tape:

(L) April 11th, 2021- Rugby ATL 17 – Rugby United New York 27 (Marietta, GA)

(L) February 24th, 2020- Rugby ATL 19 – Rugby United New York 22 (Marietta, GA)

RUNY Rosters