Major League Rugby Weekly – 20/01/2020 – Dallas Jackals Delay
Dallas Jackals Delay Inaugural Season To 2022
The Dallas Jackals have made the decision to delay their inaugural season of Major League Rugby, to the 2022 season. Due to the impact from the Pandemic and the hopes of long term success, the Jackals made the decision in conjunction with the League. The Jackals are hoping to put the best account of themselves in their opening season and feel the best way to do that is to delay. Their will now be a dispersal draft, for the existing Jackals players, to find new homes around the league.
Dallas Jackals President Scott Sonju:
“This has been a challenging process, but we firmly believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,”
“The pandemic has obviously had a far-reaching impact on many businesses. For an expansion sports team it presents very specific challenges, from properly cultivating community and business relationships, to securing visas for international players – there are many challenges in a normal climate, let alone in the unusual climate of this past year. We know this organization is going to be highly successful. We know DFW is an important market for the league. But we also know that you only get one chance to make a first impression. After consulting with our partners and MLR Commissioner George Killebrew, we agreed introducing professional rugby to North Texas in 2022 is the right decision.”
Two More Contract Extensions At The Seawolves
Seattle Seawolves Lock Forward Taylor Krumrei, has become the latest player to sign a new deal with the franchise. He will now enter into his fourth season with the side and will look for more game time in the 2021 Major League Rugby season. Krumrei should benefit from the move of Second Row rival Jeremy Lenaerts to the Houston Sabercats. The 28 year old impressed for Seattle in the BC Premiership, back in 2018 and earned a spot on the USA Selects XV. He made two substitute appearances in 2020 and will be looking for more in 2021.
The Seattle Seawolves have continued their run of good moves, as Captain Riekert Hattingh signs a new deal. Hattingh is both a leader and a key player for the Seawolves. Despite their poor form last season, Hattingh still managed to lead by example, scoring five tries in five games. His return is great news for the Seawolves, as they go in search of their third Major League Rugby title. The hard running Back Row Forward, came through the ranks with the Blue Bulls, in his native South Africa. He played for the Golden Lions In the Vodacom Cup and The Blue Bulls In the Currie Cup, prior to moving to the States. He has since played for the Ohio Aviators, in PRO Rugby, and joined the Seawolves for their inaugural 2018 season of Major League Rugby.
Changes At The Warriors
The Utah Warriors have released a statement, due to coaching changes at the club. Head Coach Chris Lathum has stepped down from his role, that he has held since 2019, due to personal reasons. It is a real shame, due to the progress that Lathum had made, since taking over. It also isn’t great timing, due to the proximity of the 2021 season (March), however these strange times mean a lot of these things are happening in World Rugby. Utah have acted swiftly to replace Lathum with former USA Eagles Prop Shawn Pittman.
In other news, the Utah Warriors have announced the signing of Namibian International Fly Half Cliven Loubser. The talented you ten, had been playing for Yorkshire Carnegie, in the Greene King IPA Championship (England). He had been working with former Namibia Head Coach Phil Davies, at Carnegie, who had seen his serious talent. The 23 year old has played 17 times for his country and played at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Loubser is an accomplished goal kicker and will rival Hagan Schulte, for the starting ten berth.
NOLA Sign Hooker O’Toole
New Orleans Gold have added former Houston Sabercats Hooker Pat O’Toole, to their 2021 Major League Rugby roster. The 25 year old, former Connacht Academy player, will move to his third MLR franchise, after playing for the Sabercats in 2019 and San Diego Legion in 2018. O’Toole opted to head back to Europe for the 2020 season and played for both Glasgow Warriors (Scotland) and Garryowen Rugby Club (Ireland). The Gold are beginning to build some real depth and competition in their front row and it should be a point of strength in 2021.
More New Faces For Rugby United New York
Rugby United New York have announced the signing of Kiwi Fly Half Dan Hollinshead, for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 25 year old is a fantastic player and will fill the whole left by Cathal Marsh. Hollinshead could join a new Half Back duo with recent signing Andy Ellis. He joins from the Bay Of Plenty Steamers, in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup Competition. In his realtively short career so far, Hollinshead has already played in Mitre 10 for five seasons. In addition to that, he has played pro rugby in France with Agen (PRO D2) and Japan with the Coca-Cola Red Sparks (Japanese Top League).
The second new face this week, comes in the form of Benjamin Bonasso, from Buenos Aires side Club Newman. Bonasso is a talented young Number 8, who has played Age Grade Rugby For Argentina. Bonasso has only played up to Under 19s, with injury preventing an Under 20 call, but he has not yet been captured at Senior level. The 23 year old remains eligible for his country of birth, the United States. He was born in Connecticut, meaning that Bonasso does not take up a foreign player spot, on the RUNY roster.
Sabercats Sign Fijian Winger
The Houston Sabercats‘ have announced the signing of former Zebre Winger Paula Balekana, for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The Fijian Winger has a fantastic try scoring record, at every club he has played for and seems an interesting acquisition, by the Texas club. Balekana is the second recruit from the Italian side Zebre, after Forward and fellow Fijian Apisai Tauyavuca joined. The 27 year old Balekana made his name in Australia playing for both Gordon Rugby and the Sydney Rays (NRC). Over two seasons with Gordon, Balekana scored a whopping 24 tries, in just 29 appearances.
Legion Bring In Canadian Youngster
San Diego Legion have signed former UBC Thunderbirds Loose Forward Michael Smith, ahead of the 2021 Major League Rugby season. Smith is an extremely talented young Back Rower, who primarily operates as an Openside Flanker. He joins a stacked roster, when it comes to the Legion Back Row, with the likes of Chris Robshaw and Psalm Wooching on the books. He will be able to continue his development, learning off of this top talent and also provide back up throughout the season. The 22 year old can also cover Blindside and Number Eight.