Glendale and Seattle to Face-Off For Major League Rugby Title

The inaugural Major League Rugby Championship, will pit the Glendale Raptors against the Seattle Seawolves this Saturday July 7 at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California at 9pm EDT.

SAN DIEGO, CA - The inaugural Major League Rugby Championship, will pit the Glendale Raptors against the Seattle Seawolves this Saturday, July 7 at Torero Stadium in San Diego, California at 9pm EDT.

It's a game you won't want to miss, tickets are still available but selling quick. If you're not able to get to the game in person, you'll be able to catch all the action on CBS Sports Network.

It is shaping up to be a monumental battle between two teams that have appeared to have the competition in hand since week one. From the opening kick-off, the Raptors and Seawolves have stood above their competition, making it only fitting that they are to duke it out and determine who will be crowned MLR's first champion.

For Glendale, they have been in pole position for the whole season, going undefeated until the final weekend where, perhaps forebodingly, they lost in San Diego to the San Diego Legion. The core of their success this year has come from the contingent of current USA Eagles they have built into the roster, including their halves and inside center combination of Shaun Davies, Will Magie and Bryce Campbell. Having such a skilled and well-paced play-making center field has allowed the Raptors to play at a quick pace and stretch their opposition out wide. This is something Head Coach David Williams will be relying on this weekend.

"Physicality, intensity and accuracy are keys for success," said Williams, "We have to put the Seattle's defense under pressure and make them break. The players want to play fast and you can only do that if you're well-conditioned and strong,"

Seattle has been equally dominant all year, only losing two games and both of those losses came against one team: the Raptors. The Seawolves also possess a strong halves and inside center combination between capped Canadian Phil Mack, Peter Smith and former USA Eagle Shalom Suniula. They do not play at the same pace as the Raptors, but instead opt for a sustained attack. With Smith, a fly-half with text-book distribution and pin-point kicking, at the helm and Suniula complimenting him, the Seawolves ability to build and sustain phase play has been a crucial element in their progress thus far.

Their spark plug in attack can often come from the wily scrum-half, Phil Mack, who is also their assistant coach. Mack believes one of the vital components of their game this weekend will be their ability to sustain phases. "(We have) put work in on our ball retention and what its going to take to lead to quick ball. It's all we're going to need to do to be successful is create quick ball... we know the challenge that is coming."

The Seawolves are all too familiar with the challenge that lies before them this weekend, as they have failed to get over the hurdle twice before. As the cliché goes, it's hard to beat a team three times in a year. While Mack doesn't believe the adage alone will be enough to get them over the line this weekend, he is confident that they have learned from past matchups, "We've went through the game tape...their strength, to me, is just their organization. All fifteen of those guys are on the same page...for us it's the big focus going to be finishing chances when we create them. If you look at a lot of the games we've played, we're creating a ton of chances, but just not converting a lot of them."

While they have won both times they've faced the Seawolves this year, the Raptors aren't counting their chickens before they hatch. Williams has made sure his team is tuned into this game and that they're not taking the opponents lightly. Williams has highlighted strengths and areas in which the Seawolves can exploit them this weekend, ensuring his team is well prepared.

"Seattle pride themselves on their set piece and defense so we will have to overcome and get dominance in those areas to be successful," noted Williams.

Set piece will likely be the difference between the two teams on Saturday night, but that is no secret to either team. For Seattle, their scrum has been a fixture for them all year. They've relied on it to assert dominance and apply pressure to teams whether attacking or defending. It was a large part of their win over San Diego last weekend. Continually, their scrum stifled San Diego when the Legion were in threatening territory and then helped to pile on the pressure down the other end of the pitch. Mack acknowledges that for Seattle to be crowned champions, they will need a shift from their tight forwards, "For us to be successful this weekend our tight five need to have a really good game."

Williams and the Raptors are relishing the challenge ahead of them, and believe they have what it takes to shut the Seawolves set pieces, "They pride themselves on their set piece as we do so really looking forward to that battle up front and who comes out on top."

This game is setting up to be the perfect end to a magnificent debut season for Major League Rugby. It will be a wide-open game of rugby with a mixture of strong pack work, tactical kicking, and ambitious backlines all played at a blistering pace. It will be a great display of rugby, and an affair that will be another amazing benchmark for American rugby.