3 Things: MLR Round 13

With the season headed into the homestretch, let’s take a look at the top three storylines from Round 13.

Major League Rugby Needs to Review Head Injury Replacements

The end of San Diego/Utah was marred in controversy. Legion scrumhalf Ethan McVeigh took a nasty fall that knocked him out immediately. There was zero question that his day was immediately over. (Thankfully, McVeigh has since said it was much better than it appeared, and he is already on the road back.)

The controversy came as McVeigh was taken off. McVeigh was a replacement, and the Legion sent their starting 9 back onto the field. However, referee JP Doyle did not allow San Diego to replace since they’d used all their subs.

Doyle is the MLR’s best, but he got this completely wrong.

World Rugby Law clearly states that (I’m paraphrasing here) a player that was tactically replaced can return to the field to replace an injured front rower, a player with a blood injury, or a player with a head injury. Doyle pointed out that MLR does not have Head Injury Assessment protocol (a WHOLE issue on its own), so they couldn’t replace. However, an HIA isn’t explicitly required to replace the player, and there was no question a head injury occurred.

So, San Diego plays out with 14, and Utah pulls off the comeback.

I’m not going to insist San Diego would’ve won. Momentum had clearly swung to Utah. Watching your teammate take that nasty of an injury doesn’t make playing easier. But they should not have been forced to play a man down. For a team trying to surge into the playoffs, this might be the match that pushes them out of the picture.

Major League Rugby: don’t let this happen again.

Houston and Seattle are Mathematically Eliminated

We have our first two eliminated teams, but they couldn’t be in more different positions.

Houston was eliminated when Utah overcame the Legion. Their absolute clobbering at the hands of LA was too embarrassing to be funny. Head Coach Paul Healy will not return next year, and this team needs a bottom to top autopsy.

Seattle was eliminated by their loss to New England, but they gave them a fight on the way down. Everyone on this team is playing for their job, but Head Coach Allen Clarke has this team fighting like gladiators. They’ll upset someone before this year is out.

In all likelihood, Toronto will join this list next week. The fishing boat fills up quickly.

Teams Must Beware Key Injuries

To understand the potential issue injuries can cause, let’s do something I usually try to avoid. Let’s look across the pond at the English Premiership.

USA Eagles fans will know AJ MacGinty. MacGinty was named the Eagles captain a few weeks ago, and he’s arguably the best 10 in the world. MacGinty plays his club rugby for Sale Sharks in the Premiership. In the closing minutes of a meaningless (based on score line), MacGinty hit the ground with an apparent leg injury. He’ll be out at least a week and potentially into the July test window.

MLR teams will need to avoid injury as the season winds down. Andy Ellis left the RUNY match dinged up. While the New York back line is deep, they’ll want Ellis come playoff time. Watch to see how teams rest key pieces as the playoff picture becomes clear and the value of games decreases.

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