Every week in the MLR provides us with too much information to process over two game days. We’ll be providing 3 immediate takeaways each week.
Rugby is Back
Games were rough (which we all saw coming). It was a ‘skills’ over ‘tactics’ weekend. Take the NOLA/DC match. New Orleans looked like the far better side, with the exception of their inability to get over the line. They had the better set piece. They seemed to have a more intentional shape.
So, how did DC manage a draw? Danny Tusitala. The Old Glory scrum half managed two nearly single handed tries. His quick thinking and undeniable skill kept DC in the match.
In fairness, DC had zero preseason matches and was unable to practice this week due to COVID protocols. What they did was impressive. But they will still see massive improvement with time together.
Every team will.
Broadcasting has Greatly Improved
While the rugby has grown over the last three years, the broadcasting improvement is equally as impressive. Dan Power is truly becoming the voice of rugby in America. While the Legion v RUNY game in Vegas was lower quality, its a temporary venue.
The outlets have improved as well. I first watched an MLR match on Facebook Live. This weekend, I watched on CBS Sports, FS2, and The Rugby Network. Throw in all the other content on TRN and MLR All Access coming to FS2. The word of MLR is expanding in reach.
MLR v. College Basketball is not a Fight Rugby will Win
Rugby around the world tends to focus on its own schedule. The MLR schedule itself is highly influenced by the global calendar. The goal of concluding the season before the fall international window pushed the MLR to start this past weekend. For rugby fans, competing with the first weekend of the men’s college basketball tournament doesn’t mean much. To the the American sports fan, it’s everything.
There is an argument to make that getting the rough start of the season out of the way during the tournament makes some sense. Work out the kinks and get feet back under players before pushing the game in front of a broader audience. However, as the game continues to professionalize and games are better from the first whistle, there will be a larger and larger opportunity being lost if MLR sticks to this schedule.