Game Preview: Utah Warriors Host Toronto In 2021 Home Opener
HERRIMAN, Utah — Coming off of a bonus-point win on the road against the Austin Gilgronis to start the 2021 MLR season, the Utah Warriors will face off with the Eastern Conference’s Toronto Arrows. The home opener match will take place tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. MDT in Zions Bank Stadium.
This will be the Warriors’ first Major League Rugby (MLR) regular-season home game in almost two years. Last season, their home opener and the rest of the 2020 season were canceled only two days before the game, due to COVID-19. The two teams will meet on the pitch in what will be a nationally televised game on FS2 and throughout Canada on TSN.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge this week, and I feel the team is massively up for it,” said Utah Warriors head coach Shawn Pittman. “With the change in fullback and pushing Mikey to wing, this allows us to have more kicking options when playing. But, no doubt about it, Toronto has been and is a very formidable MLR team, and we’ll be up against it this weekend.”
Last week, vice-captain Mikey Te’o was featured in the fullback position. However, this week, Te’o will move to right-wing and newcomer Cliven Loubser will make his debut for the Warriors at fullback. Loubser, who hails from Rehoboth, Namibia, brings with him 25 international caps and 159 points for the Namibian Welwitschias.
“This is going to be the first outing for Cliven Loubser in the Warrior’s jersey,” said assistant coach Shaun Davies. “But, I am really excited to see what he brings with his pace and x-factor.”
Last week in the regular-season opener, the Arrows fell to Rugby ATL in Atlanta, 21-14. In what was a heated and set-piece-driven contest, ATL was able to outlast their Northern counterparts with a scoreless second half after the Arrows went out to an early 14-7 lead in the 12th minute.
Despite their loss last weekend, the Arrows are bringing with them a large amount of Canadian capped players that have experience playing at the professional level. Pittman said Toronto has a strong set-piece that will challenge the Warriors this weekend.
“Their flyhalf is very good at taking it to the line,” Pittman said. “ Both of their flankers are phenomenal players, and we will need to be aware of them when we carry the ball.”
Davies mimicked similar sentiments as Pittman, calling out Toronto’s style of play, strength and physicality. He said the performance at the gainline will have a strong impact on the game.
“Toronto is a very strong team, who play a similar style of rugby to the Canadian national team,” Davies said. “They’re going to come hard at the breakdown, which if we can manage and create that fast ball we thrive off of, we should see some fun attacking rugby. Much like us, Toronto is a hugely physical team, and whoever can get some ascendancy at the gainline will have a strong showing.”
The Utah Warriors home opener will broadcast live on FS2 in the United States and on TSN nationally in Canada. Viewers will be able to watch internationally on The Rugby Network, the MLR’s OTT platform.
Local fans will be able to watch the game on the KSL TV App 24 hours following the FS2 airing. All Utah Warriors games broadcast on KSLSports, the KSL TV App and The Rugby Network can be accessed live by both domestic and international viewers.
Stay tuned to the Utah Warriors social media accounts for updates and behind-the-scenes looks at the team’s preparations and performance.
UTAH WARRIORS VS. TORONTO ARROWS
Date: March 27, 2021
Time: 7:00 p.m. MDT
Where: Zions Bank Stadium (Herriman, UT)
Broadcast: FS2 (USA), TSN (Canada), The Rugby Network (Internationally), KSL TV App (24 hours post broadcast)
Radio: ESPN 700 and ESPN 960
Utah Warriors Gameday Roster:
- Franco van den Berg
- Sama Malolo
- Angus Maclellan
- Aston Fortuin
- Matt Jensen
- Lance Williams
- Bailey Wilson (C)
- Jurie Van Vuuren
- Michael Baska
- Hagen Schulte
- Josh Whippy
- Calvin Whiting
- Tyler Fisher
- Mikey Te’o (VC)
- Cliven Loubser
- Tuvere Vugakoto
- Alex Tucci
- Olive Kilifi
- James Mocke
- Thomas Tu’avao
- Fraser Hurst
- Sione Tau’ataina
- Joe Mano
*Roster is subject to change without notice up to the start of the match