You are here
Returning teams continue to add new talent and re-sign veterans, while the lone 2019 expansion team continues to announce expected signees and both 2020 expansion franchises make front office moves.
In non-personnel news, the two-game preseason series between Glendale and Utah has been canceled. It was supposed to kick off Saturday.
With Tiger Rugby’s Paul Holmes rumored to involved in the ownership group, it’s no surprise Tiger’s James Walker has been named the general manager for Atlanta. Tiger has operated as a touring side for several years, at different times serving as a de facto second side for the 7s national team, and at other times a landing spot for aging internationals.
With teams across the league needing to blend up-and-coming American talent with overseas professionals, Walker is well suited to fill Atlanta’s ranks. There are several Tiger alums sprinkled across several MLR rosters, and it seems reasonable to expect some of them to make their way onto Atlanta’s roster at some point.
Alex Magleby, the head of USA Rugby’s high performance department, has been named the general manager of the New England FreeJacks, who are set to join the league in 2019. He’s apparently already been on the job, as a few MLR veterans have been linked to the team already.
Diego Maquiera of the Houston Sabercats, Matt Hughston of the NOLA Gold and Tadgh Leader of the San Diego Legion have all been rumored to be on board with New England, perhaps appearing as soon as Saturday in the FreeJacks’ first exhibition match against the Arrows in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Maquiera, a hooker who appeared sparingly for Houston, played for Northeastern and Mystic River, so he’s going home. Hughston played well for NOLA at openside, as he did for the Ohio Aviators in PRO in 2016. Leader played professionally in Ireland before coming to America and booting up for the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, eventually attending Lindenwood and starting for the Legion.
Magleby spent 18 years in one capacity or another with USA Rugby. He emerged from the All American coach to become the head man for the 7s Eagles, and eventually the head of high performance. There are few people better positioned to mine American talent.
The team hasn’t announced anything yet, but Simon Bienvenu is rumored to be signing soon. He’s a French center who’s played for Racing 92 and Toulouse, as well as the French 7s team in the European Grand Prix.
Andres Vilaseca / Uruguay / Center/Wing
Simon Courcoul / France / Prop
Simon Bienvenu / France / Center
The Houston Sabercats had plenty of role players and capable forwards in year one, but the pack in general lacked punch. The first two additions of the offseason appear to be addressing that void.
Mathew Faoagali is a young Kiwi flanker with an American passport who comes from the Australian Shute Shield competition. He is a compact, dense back rower who can carry.
Ayron Schramm is a 24-year-old uber-talented No. 8 from Germany. The 6’4” back rower is powerful, skillful and mobile. He’ll be an instant difference maker for the Sabercats.
Cecil Garber / USA / Flanker
Malacchi Esdale / USA / Wing
Chris Coyle / USA / Flanker
Ayron Schramm / Germany / No. 8
Mathew Faoagali / New Zealand/USA / Flanker
No returning team has done more to improve this offseason than the Gold. So far, Ryan Fitzgerald has signed six new foreigners. Last week we reported on the onboarding of Australian scrumhalf Scott Gale and South African center Tristan Blewett. Since, NOLA has inked Samoan lock Kane Thompson, Australian 7s star Con Foley, Canadian lock Kyle Baillie and Uruguayan lock Ignacio Dotti.
NOLA struggled with second row quality and depth the entire first year, brought on somewhat by injuries. It seems Fitzgerald and head coach Nate Osborne have made the position group a priority heading into year two.
The 36-year-old Thompson has 33 caps for Samoa, including 10 across two World Cups. He’s played all over New Zealand and in England for Newcastle. He’ll be 37 when the season kicks off, but is instantly one of the most decorated players in the league.
The 30-year-old Baillie is a short lock at 6’3”. He played for the Ohio Aviators in PRO Rugby and has 19 caps for Canada. Dotti is 24-years-old, stands 6’4” and has 35 caps for Uruguay.
Foley is another big pickup. He’s most notably played with the Australia 7s team, like Sam Figg of the runner-up Glendale Raptors. Figg was one of the stars of the inaugural season, and Foley may end up one in 2019. He’s played throughout the backline, but it’s unsure how he’ll fit into the Gold’s plans.
Assuming Sebastian Kalm and Vincent Jobo are healthy and returning, the Gold could start a second row of Baillie and Dotti with a back row of Kalm, Thompson and Jobo. Slot Gale in at scrumhalf, JP Eloff at flyhalf and Bluett and Foley in the centers, and you have an entirely overhauled lineup capable of going toe to toe with anyone.
Scott Gale / Australia / Scrumhalf
Tristan Blewett / South Africa / Center
Kane Thompson / Samoa / Lock/No. 8
Con Foley / Australia / Back
Kyle Baillie / Canada / Lock
Ignacio Dotti / Uruguay / Lock
Rugby United New York
Two more expected signings for New York. Ross Deacon played for RUNY during the exhibition season in the spring, and he’s a veteran of the New York Athletic Club. He played for the Austin Elite during the inaugural season, and though he’s Ireland raised, he’s American born, having represented the USA at the U20 level.
Mike St. Clair is as homegrown as they get. Unlike Dylan Fawsitt, Connor Wallace-Sims, Luke Hume and Deacon, St. Clair isn’t an international with ties to New York, he was born and raised there. He starred for Stony Brook in college and has been a weapon for Old Blue and the Northeast Academy since. He’s a fast, physical wing.
Ben Foden / England / Fullback
Cathal Marsh / Ireland / Flyhalf
Seamus Kelly / USA / Center
Dylan Fawsitt / USA / Hooker
Connor Wallace-Sims / USA / Wing/Fullback
Luke Hume / USA / Wing
Nate Brakeley / USA / Lock
Mike St. Claire / USA / Wing
Ross Deacon / Ireland/USA / Flanker
No new players in Seattle. Outside back Peter Tiberio, No. 8 Riekert Hattingh, prop Tim Metcher, midfielder Shalom Suniula, and fullback Mat Turner have all been announced as re-signed, joining Eric Duechle and Phil Mack.
Phil Mack / Canada / Scrumhalf
Eric Duechle / USA / Flanker
Peter Tiberio / USA / Wing
Riekert Hattingh / South Africa / No. 8
Tim Metcher / Australia / Prop
Shalom Suniula / USA / Center
Mat Turner / England / Fullback