Round 1 17th February- 19th February
Rugby ATL vs Toronto Arrows
NOLA Gold vs New England Free Jacks
Old Glory DC vs Chicago Hounds
San Diego Legion vs Utah Warriors
Seattle Seawolves vs Rugby New York
Dallas Jackals vs Houston SaberCats
Round 2 24th February-26th February
Seattle Seawolves vs Rugby ATL
Utah Warriors vs Dallas Jackals
Houston SaberCats vs NOLA Gold
Rugby New York vs Toronto Arrows
San Diego Legion vs New England Free Jacks
Round 3 3rd March-5th March
Dallas Jackals vs Seattle Seawolves
Rugby ATL vs NOLA Gold
Chicago Hounds vs Utah Warriors
Rugby New York vs Old Glory DC
Houston SaberCats vs San Diego Legion
Round 4 11th March-12th March
New England Free Jacks vs Old Glory DC
Chicago Hounds vs Toronto Arrows
San Diego Legion vs Dallas Jackals
Seattle SeaWolves vs Houston SaberCats
NOLA Gold vs Rugby New York
Round 5 18th March-19th March
NOLA Gold vs Utah Warriors
Old Glory DC vs Toronto Arrows
Rugby ATL vs San Diego Legion
Chicago Hounds vs Dallas Jackals
Rugby New York vs New England Free Jacks
Round 6 25th March- 26th March
Old Glory DC vs NOLA Gold
New England Free Jacks vs Dallas Jackals
Chicago Hounds vs Seattle Seawolves
Houston SaberCats vs Rugby ATL
Utah Warriors vs Toronto Arrows
Round 7 31st March- 2nd April
Utah Warriors vs New England Free Jacks
Chicago Hounds vs Houston SaberCats
Dallas Jackals vs Toronto Arrows
NOLA Gold vs Seattle Seawolves
Rugby New York vs Rugby ATL
San Diego Legion vs Old Glory DC
Round 8 8th April
New England Free Jacks vs Chicago Hounds
Toronto Arrows vs Rugby New York
Rugby ATL vs Old Glory DC
Houston SaberCats vs Utah Warriors
Seattle Seawolves vs San Diego Legion
Round 9 15th April- 16th April
NOLA Gold vs Rugby ATL
Toronto Arrows vs New England Free Jacks
Houston SaberCats vs Dallas Jackals
Utah Warriors vs Seattle Seawolves
Old Glory DC vs Rugby New York
San Diego Legion vs Chicago Hounds
Round 10 22nd April-23rd April
New England Free Jacks vs Rugby ATL
Old Glory DC vs Utah Warriors
Chicago Hounds vs NOLA Gold
Dallas Jackals vs San Diego Legion
Rugby New York vs Houston SaberCats
Toronto Arrows vs Seattle Seawolves
Round 11 28th April-30th April
Seattle Seawolves vs Dallas Jackals
NOLA Gold vs Toronto Arrows
New England Free Jacks vs Rugby New York
San Diego Legion vs Houston SaberCats
Round 12 6th May- 7th May
Rugby ATL vs Chicago Hounds
Dallas Jackals vs Old Glory DC
Utah Warriors vs San Diego Legion
Rugby New York vs NOLA Gold
Round 13 12th May- 14th May
Toronto Arrows vs Rugby ATL
NOLA Gold vs San Diego Legion
Chicago Hounds vs Rugby New York
Houston SaberCats vs Seattle Seawolves
Dallas Jackals vs Utah Warriors
Old Glory DC
Round 14 18th May-21st May
Toronto Arrows vs Old Glory DC
Rugby ATL vs Dallas Jackals
Utah Warriors vs Houston SaberCats
Seattle Seawolves vs Chicago Hounds
New England Free Jacks vs NOLA Gold
Round 15 27th May- 28th May
New England Free Jacks vs Toronto Arrows
Old Glory DC vs Seattle Seawolves
Houston SaberCats vs Chicago Hounds
Utah Warriors vs Rugby ATL
San Diego Legion vs Rugby New York
Round 16 2nd June- 4th June
Rugby ATL vs New England Free Jacks
NOLA Gold vs Old Glory DC
Toronto Arrows vs Houston SaberCats
Chicago Hounds vs San Diego Legion
Rugby New York vs Dallas Jackals
Seattle Seawolves vs Utah Warriors
Round 17 9th June- 11th June
Houston SaberCats vs Old Glory DC
Rugby ATL vs Rugby New York
Dallas Jackals vs NOLA Gold
Utah Warriors vs Chicago Hounds
Toronto Arrows vs San Diego Legion
Seattle Seawolves vs New England Free Jacks
Round 18- 17th June- 18th June
New England Free Jacks vs Houston SaberCats
Old Glory DC vs Rugby ATL
Toronto Arrows vs NOLA Gold
Dallas Jackals vs Chicago Hounds
Rugby New York vs Utah Warriors
San Diego Legion vs Seattle Warriors
Eliminators - 24th - 25th June
Conference finals - 2nd - 3rd July
Championship final - 8th July
Last Season Review
2022 was a strange and controversial year for the league. It was headlined by two of the leagues best teams being disqualified for breaking the salary cap regulations. Both the Austin Gilgronis and the LA Giltinis were disqualified from the playoffs due to breaking salary cap rules.
This happened just four days before the playoffs were due to start and made it very complicated as both teams were supposed to be in the playoffs. It opened up the opportunity for Seattle Seawolves and the San Diego Legion to join the playoffs but neither could capitalise.
Seattle got close, making it to the final where they would lose to Rugby New York. It was the first MLR title for New York and Seattle could not capitalise on the opportunity to claim their third title.
It was a strange season for the MLR and there we wont see the Austin or LA team back again next year, with MLR finding a replacement team.
Rugby New York
It seems right to begin with the leagues reigning champions. 2022 was a brilliant year for Rugby New York, winning their first Major League Rugby title after a convincing win in the final over two time winners Seattle Seawolves.
Despite finishing third in the regular season, this team turned it one when it really mattered, including avenging their conference final loss of 2021. There were a few guys who made a big impact on this team and new signing Ed Fidow was one of those.
Fidow led the league in tries last year, finishing the season with 12. He gave this team real attacking intent and should do the same in the upcoming season. He is one of a few internationals on this side, headlined by former World Cup winner Nehe Milner-Skudder. If the team holds onto him and fellow Kiwi Waisake Naholo, they can have another exhilarating attack next season.
Andy Ellis is another crucial Kiwi on this team and they have already secured the resigning of MLR 2022 Forward of the Year Brendon O’Connor who is a menace at the breakdown. Depending on how many of their stars they bring back, it could be another successful season for the reigning champions.
Two-time champions Seattle Seawolves will be looking for revenge in 2023 having come so close to adding a third title. They fell just short in the final but this team still comes into 2023 will a lot of optimism.
For one thing, a lot of the players who helped them reach the final are very young. Tavite Lopeti is still 24 and offers a huge amount to this team. They are still returning a lot of stars, including the top points scorer in the MLR in 2022. AJ Alatimu was crucial to the teams success last year and he looks like a huge player for them going forward. He has already been signed for the 2023 season.
Lopeti was particularly exciting for the Seattle team, being named Rookie of the Year in 2022. This Seattle team is certainly different to the one that won back to back titles in 2018 and 2019. But there is still a lot of talent who can make an impact on this competition.
New England Free Jacks
New England fans will have been very angry that their team failed to make the MLR final after being the best team in the regular season last year. They finished with four more points that any other team and six points ahead of eventual champions Rugby New York. It was a crushing end to the season for what looked like the best team In the MLR.
But what will be a positive is that they have shown vast improvement over the last two years. It seems like Scott Mathie has got this team in a really good position and they can bring some confidence into 2023.
However, they do not bring MLR’s 2022 Player of the Season into 2022. It was a huge loss when it was announced that Beaudein Waaka would not be returning for next season, instead moving to Japan to join the Kobelco Kobe Steelers. It is a huge loss for Coach of the Year Scott Mathie.
But this is still a team with a lot of talent. They have brought in a lot of talent from New Zealand and the pacific islands, with back Taniela Filimone one to watch for next season. Mitch Jacobson is a huge signing for the team, having previously played for the Chiefs in Super Rugby and still just 26 years old.
They have already made some exciting signings, adding to their contingent of Canadian internationals as well as extedning Mitch Wilson, the teams USA international. Losing their star man is big, but outside of fly half this team has a lot of talent.
I think their success really depends how they can replace Waaka as they have made some great signings already in preparation for 2023.
This Houston team were the surprise of the 2022 season. They finished 2021 with just two wins and yet a year later they were one game away from the Major League Rugby Final.
This is one of the most exciting teams in Major League Rugby and USA fans have seen them progress players into the national side. Christian Dyer is really the young star of this side. The 24 year old is the poster boy for this team despite only making his debut with Houston in 2022.
Outside of Dyer, Siaosi Mahoni is another youngster who is now playing for the USA. Dean Muir is crucial to this team not only as the teams captain. He is also the teams top try scorer from last year. Muir will be crucial in 2023 and the maul attack was something that brought a lot of success for Houston.
At the time of writing they have had a quiet offseason with no major signings and so will be relying on a lot of the guys already in the squad. They have seen Robbie Povey excel for Canada in the offseason and he is part of a very exciting back three alongside Dyer. They did add Iowa State prop Brandon Karnes who should help the power of this squad.
The SaberCats had an excellent 2022, but their quiet offseason at the time of writing is a concern. They have some exellant players but it is tough to see them repeating the feats of 2022.
San Diego Legion
In the past few years the San Diego Legion have been the star studded team to not really find the right rhythm. Their poor defence let them down in the 2022 season when they fell to the Seattle Seawolves in the eliminators. But there is still a lot of talent on this team.
They are losing some talent for 2023, with former England captain Chris Robshaw retiring. But they are one of the teams who has had the best offseasons at the time of writing. The headline is that legendary All Black Ma’a Nonu will be returning for his age 40 season and was captain of the team last year.
Alongside him, the Legion has a lot of talent. Paddy Ryan will join the team after a season with the Waratahs in Super Rugby and the Legion have also sided former Super Rugby scrum half Richard Judd. Scottish fly-half Josh Henderson will have another season to bed into this team and make a big impact.
Blair Cowan is the replacement for Robshaw, a very experienced forward who has played for four different English teams as well as having 18 caps for Scotland. The Legion have also added a lot of talent from the Pacific Islands as well as sureing up the contracts of guys like Tomas Aoake, Ma’a Nonu and Ryan Matyas.
This is a team with a huge amount of talent. They were incredibly inconsistent last year however and their leaky defence let them down in the post season. But when the Legion are firing there are few better teams. Joe Pietersen will be pulling the strings for this team and they are one that I think that be in the final in 2023.
In 2021, Rugby ATL were finalists, but they have dropped down since and are looking to rebound. In 2022 they reached the post season but fell in the eliminators to eventually champions Rugby New York, pushing the champions closest out of any team in the post season.
They will have been disappointed with this result considering they beat Rugby New York comfortably three weeks before the postseason game. What should make the build up for this season easier is that they seem to have settled on a permanent coach with former attack coach Stephen Brett, a very experienced former player.
Brett has a big job this offseason to overhaul this team as it is not the same as the one that made it to the final in 2021. There is still talent on this roster but it seems unlikely that they will have top try scorer from last season Marko Janse van Rensburg who looks likely to move to the Cheetahs in South Africa.
They will hope that Kurt Coleman can play a big role in their team next year after a good season with Rugby ATL where he finally took up a larger role. George Barton and Cole Davis are two former Canadian internationals who will be crucial to the team scoring consistently in 2023.
The team have made a few signings heading into the new season, with 6ft 7in Lock Nahuel Milan the most notable, having played for the Argentina XV earlier this year. The rest of their signings bring a lot of youth but little professional experience. They will be pleased to see Te Rangatira Waitokia return to the team for 2023 as well.
This Rugby ATL team outperformed in 2022 and I think there could be a bit of a drop in 2023, but lets see how these youngsters step up.
Canada’s only MLR team have not made a massive impact since joining the competition in 2019, but there is certainly some optimism going into 2023.
One of the major points of optimism for this team is that they have five players playing for Canada including Lucas Rumball, the second most capped player in the Canada squad. They have also been busy already in the offseason.
Of the newcomers, Noel Reid is certainly the highlight. The 32 year old is vastly experienced as has played for Ireland. He spent eight years with Leinster and most recetnyl was with London Irish in 2022. Reid brings a lot of experience and will be competition for Will Kelly for the number 10 shirt.
Among the returning is the kiwi prop pair of Lolani Faleiva and Isaac Salmon, both dominant players who had a big impact on the team last year. Fullbck Ciaran Breen is the most exciting new signings, with the 21 year old a standout in sevens rugby and someone who could be with the Arrows for a very long time.
This team finished with eight wins and eight losses at the end of 2022 and they are needing more in attack next season, finishing the regular season with fewer points conceded that Rugby New York who would go on to become champions. This team needs players to step up before they can make their second trip to the playoffs and the first since 2019.
Just a year after Shawn Pittman won coach of the year, Utah were not really close to the post season. They finished ten points off the playoffs even with two of their conference being disqualified.
At the moment however they are not making a huge amount of noise in the offseason. They have made one signings and it is a very high profile one. Joel Hodgson will join the team in 2023 after a very short stint with Glasgow. Hodgson has more than 100 appearances in the Premiership and was always a reliable option for Newcastle.
He is a very good singing for a team who have not seen consistent performance from fly half. Their backs have a lot of talent. Paul Lasike is really the teams biggest weapon in their backline, the big powerful centre being a great signing since joining from Harlequins in 2022. Mike Te’o is another good option in their backline.
Upfront, they have Paul Mullen, a very experienced international who is a very good scrummager and a strong ball carrier. They have made a couple of other signings, with youngster Henry Bell moving over from Otago to partner Mullin in the front row and new man Conor McLeod likely to partner Hodgson.
This team did make it to the conference final in 2021, but last season was a big disappointment and they are still lacking the talent to progress.
New Orleans Gold
Despite bolstering the USA’s most capped player currently in the squad, New Orleans have not been to the playoffs yet. They do however have some talent in this team and have added well over the offseason.
Rodney Iona Is the main signing, with the experienced Super Rugby player being brought in for 2023. Not only that, but Iona will be partnered with Super Rugby youngster Luke Campbell. Their backline is getting a complete revamp that includes former Scottish fullback Dougie Fife.
In their frontline they have also added Super Rugby experience with Tom Florence being added to their back row. He will slot in nicely alongside Cam Dolan and it makes the back row for the team look very exciting. Expectations are difficult to gauge for New Orleans as they are relying on a lot of new signings.
I think this year will be more of a building year for NOLA and they could be a real title contender in 2024.
Old Glory DC
Having finished bottom of their conference, there is a lot of room to improve for Old Glory DC. But there is some hope for this team.
It begins with three US internationals all under the age of 28. They have complimented this roster by holding onto some good players from the previous campaign. They were an excellent try scoring team last year but had the second worst defence in the league.
In fact, the team finished with the most tries in their conference, finishing the regular season with three more tries than the champions Rugby New York. The issue for DC is their leaky defence. But with a new head coach, they should have a better defence as Josh Syms has been given the permanent job.
Don’t expect a huge amount from this team, but the Old Glory will certainly be an exciting team to watch.
Dallas had an awful 2022 season where they finished with no wins. But that did mean they had the first pick in the draft and explosive forward Sam Golla will be a big addition.
Being a new team means they were not expecting big things in 2022, but next year should be better. Chris Pennell is a very experienced fullback, with Henry Trinder another former Premiership player bringing huge experience to Dallas.
While they should also be please by the fact that Dallas has a star studded coaching lineup. There is only a way up for Dallas and there is talent on this team even if they dit not show it in 2022.
Chicago is the newest addition to Major League Rugby, so the expectations for this first season cannot be that high.
We don’t know a massive amount about the Chicago teams at the time of writing, but they have made a big splash signing, bringing in US international Bryce Campbell as well as announcing Sam Harris as the team’s head coach.
They will play in a massive new stadium and are set to open the season against the Utah Warriors. 2023 will be a teething year for this new team so don’t expect much from the Hounds in their very first season.
As we are writing this four months before the season is set to start, it is difficult to pick who the winners will be. As reigning champions, New York are likely to be the favourites heading into the season and rightfully so. I can see New England and Seattle dropping slightly away from title contention.
Whereas, I think this is the year where it all clicks for San Diego. They have excellent pieces and I think they can challenge for the title this year, as well as Utah having a better season having made some impressive signings.
This year in MLR is not an easy one to pick but it is certainly going to be exciting.