3 Things – MLR Round 9

Each week brings too many story lines to cover in depth. 3 Things is our weekly feature to rectify that, taking a shallow dive into three story lines that deserve more coverage.

The Giltinis Have Officially Stirred

Can a 42 year old player be considered a revelation?

On paper, LA came in ready to defend their title. When both Matt Giteau and Luke Carty were announced as injured before the start of the year, things felt different. The Luke Burton injury left them completely decimated at 10.

Then, Orene Ai’i screamed ‘Put me in, other Coach!’

LA has now returned to playoff position at the season’s halfway point. they’re only getting healthier. That should scare other teams.

The expectation is that Matt Giteau will still return this year. Luke Carty could return, but Ai’i’s emergence makes that a bit of a luxury. (Gary Gold might see that differently.)

For all the talk of other sides developing across the league, LA is firmly back in the title chase.

Some Overmatched Sides Looked Hot… Others Go Cold

The MLR is a crazy league. consider the following:

  • League leading New England were pushed to the limit by a NOLA side that’s well outside the playoff picture
  • Toronto returned home. Atlanta are thrilled to escape without losing the game. (Perhaps they still should have.)
  • Old Glory go into New York and give the Roosters a fight until the very end.

Meanwhile, the Western teams that are supposed to be chasing playoff spots appeared to be running to summer vacation:

  • Utah was thoroughly beaten by San Diego, stunting their playoff push.
  • Houston, sitting just outside the playoff positions, was beaten so thoroughly by Austin that they might prefer missing the beating they’d take in the postseason.

Theoretically, only Dallas and DC are really out of the playoff race. In practice, the playoff push is four teams deep in each conference. At the midway point, the real season has begun.

Thank You, Ben Foden

Former England international and RUNY original Ben Foden has finally hung up the boots.

Recovering from injury, there was some thought that he could make a late return for a playoff push. Instead, he’ll remain on the sideline. That doesn’t mean he won’t be busy.

Foden has gradually developed a media presence in American rugby. He co-hosted The Rugby Clubhouse on The Rugby Network with Mike Petri during the 2021 season, as well as hosted The Rugby Showcase show. There will be media offers if he wants them. A spot in the booth calling games would be intriguing, but a chance on a panel show could really bring out his talents.

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