Utah Warriors Take On MLR Eastern Division Leader, Rugby ATL In Home Match
HERRIMAN, Utah – The Utah Warriors are back at home this Saturday, July 10, following the bye week to take on Rugby ATL at Zions Bank Stadium as the team looks to clinch their first playoff berth since 2018 and second in team history.
Saturday’s match will mark the second time that Utah and Rugby ATL have faced off in the regular season, with ATL holding the series lead 1-0 after defeating Utah 28-19 to open the 2020 season.
Coming off a 32-12 victory over Old Glory DC in Week 15, Rugby ATL enters the game with a record of 10-4 and currently sit in first-place in Major League Rugby’s Eastern Division with 51 table points, tied with the Warriors for second-most in Major League Rugby.
“Atlanta poses a lot of interesting challenges,” said Warriors Head Coach Shawn Pittman. “They have a great kicking that allows them to put themselves in some great places to then play a very high tempo game. Defensively they bring a ton of line-speed which forces teams to make decisions earlier and hold their depth in attack.”
Utah enters the match in second-place in MLR’s Western Conference with a 9-5 record and 51 table points. The Warriors enter the match with one of Major League Rugby’s most prolific offenses with 441 points scored, second-most in the league. However, they will have their hands full with a staunch Rugby ATL defense.
“Atlanta is a very strong team that is coached extremely well and they pride themselves on their defense,” said Warriors Assistant Coach Shaun Davies. “They bring a ton of line speed and want to create turnovers to play off of. On attack, we need to make sure we are patient and play in the right areas of the field. If we play too much in our own end we’ll give them the opportunities they want to play off.”
The Warriors will be without six players who are currently away with their respective national teams, including five starters. Davies, however, believes the Warriors have the talent to compete with one of MLR’s top teams despite missing several key contributors.
“We’re extremely proud of the boys off on international duties but we also back the boys who are stepping in to do a job this week in their place,” said Davies. “With the way we train, everyone is developing together and playing as much rugby as possible during the week in order to make the weekend easier. I’m excited to see a player like Danny Christensen, who deserves the chance to start, step in and fill the shoes of Michael Baska and I know he is going to give every ounce of effort to give us the best shot we have at winning this game.”
The Warriors and Head Coach Pittman have a chance to clinch a spot in the MLR playoffs for the first time since the 2018 season in this week’s match against Rugby ATL.
“This is going to be a massive game with big playoff implications for both Rugby ATL and us,” said Pittman. “Depending on the result of the Austin vs. LA game, we could clinch a playoff spot in our match vs. ATL which would be an extraordinary accomplishment for our boys.”
This Saturday’s match will be a part of the OnWatch Celebration of Rugby, a day-long event hosted by the Warriors that celebrates and honors the history of rugby in the state of Utah. More details on the day’s events can be found warriorsrugby.com. Additionally, the Warriors will wear their limited edition Iosepa kit to honor the first Polynesian settlement in Utah and the early Polynesian Pioneers. Fans can bid on the game-worn Iosepa jerseys, signed by the player who will wear the jersey during the match.
UTAH Warriors vs. Rugby ATL
Date: Saturday, July 10
Time: 8:00 p.m. (MDT)
Where: Zions Bank Stadium (Herriman, Utah)
Broadcast: KSLSports.com and the KSL Sports app
Radio: 700 AM & 960AM