Wednesday, April 4, 2018

MLR Power Rankings: Pre-season Edition

With all but one Major League Rugby side now having played a pre-season match we though we'd share our latest pre-season rankings. These are absolutely subjective based on pre-season results as well as general impressions how we think they'll do once the season rolls around. Feel free to disagree, this is America after all.

1. Glendale Raptors: It's hard to see at this point anyone disagreeing that Glendale are the favorites to win the title this year. The team is loaded with Eagles and the bulk of the squad is close to the same one that won PRO Rugby as the Denver Stampede a few years back. In the time that passed from that championship the players headed back to Raptors and they even added some strong names like Shaun Davies. In the pre-season the Raptors have looked very good and while some teams can keep it close early the Raptors always find a way to balloon the scoreline.

2. San Diego Legion: We debated whether to put the Legion here or the Houston SaberCats. In the end we went with the Legion because we think their attack is going to be something special. They aren't without problems, especially in the forwards, but there is enough talent around that they should be able to be better than people think. In many ways they are kind of the mystery team but we think they'll be very strong.

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3. Houston SaberCats: The SaberCats have played a lot of pre-season matches so far and by and large they have looked strong. However, whenever they've gone up against really tough teams like Rugby United New York or the Vancouver Ravens they haven't always delivered. Make no mistake, they have delivered more times than they haven't but we think that the quality of opponents for much of their pre-season makes it hard to uses those results as a test. The big question for us whether the SaberCats launch themselves into the elite of the league is whether they have the depth.

4. Utah Warriors: The Warriors are going to have some growing pains this year but they have a depth of talent that only a few other teams can claim. If the season where longer wet think they'd move to the top but as it stands they are going to get some wins but might pick up as many losses as wins. Look for some of the best gems in the competition to come from the Warriors.

5. NOLA Gold: The Gold have maybe the most eclectic roster in MLR for the inaugural season. The team has to be heartened by their recent results against the SaberCats and the Austin Elite. They are starting to put things together and have some real weapons. When all is said and done Sebastian Kalm could be the MVP. The Gold may struggle with depth this year.

6. Seattle Seawolves: If everything had gone as planned for the Seawolves this year we would have them much higher on the list but at this point there are more questions than answers. Apparently they've lost their coach due to visa issues. They also have a number of foreigners on the roster, including many Canadians. The league is supposed to have a limit on the number of foreigners on the gameday roster and you have to wonder how the Seawolves are going to make it work. Who knows, they could be at the top but at the same time they could struggle.

7. Austin Elite: If this was a year or six months ago we would have said that Austin would have been among the favorites. Since then they've split with the Huns and while they have signed many of the players that were with the Huns the momentum is gone. They also haven't had very good pre-season results. With players like Peter Malcolm, Mason Pedersen, and Hanco Germishuys they have good pieces but is it enough?

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