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Major League Rugby Week 10 Preview: Can Matt Giteau Spark Sliding Legion?

Major League Rugby Week 10 Preview: Can Matt Giteau Spark Sliding Legion?

Wallabies legend Matt Giteau will return to professional rugby for the first time in three years Sunday — and he's teaming up with an old Bledisloe rival.

May 2, 2024 by Briar Napier

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If you were a rugby fan in the early 2000s, you remember the many, many stars who were on the New Zealand and Australia squads, two of the mightiest national teams of the era.

This weekend in Major League Rugby, you’ll get to see both a famous All Black and a Wallaby from that time frame take the pitch together in the same kit.

The stars will be out in North America’s top professional rugby league in Week 10, as the halfway mark of the regular season has been reached, meaning the play is getting even better, and the tension is ramping up even further.

But for those who’ve been following the sport for a long time, this weekend will offer a blast from the past — with more information about it in this article. 

Here’s a look at what to watch for in Week 10 of the Major League Rugby season, all part of FloRugby’s coverage and analysis of the league all season long: 

Giteau Solidifies Rugby Return

The San Diego Legion are in need of a pick-me-up right now after two straight defeats,. They lost to the Utah Warriors in Week 8, before shockingly being blanked 33-0 by the Western Conference-leading Houston SaberCats in Week 9 for the MLR’s first shutout in roughly a calendar year. 

Luckily for San Diego, its highlight offseason signing — who just happens to be one of the greatest players in Australian rugby history — finally is making his first appearance for the club at potentially just the right time. 

San Diego announced this week that utility back Matt Giteau, a centurion with the Wallabies and one of the finest names ever to play in Super Rugby with the Brumbies and the Western Force from 2001-2011, would be making his long-awaited club debut at Snapdragon Stadium against the Dallas Jackals on Sunday, after he was coaxed out of retirement to play at least one more season of professional rugby.

Giteau, now 41, last played in the MLR with the now-defunct LA Giltinis in 2021, helping the club win the league title that year, while also being named to the MLR’s team of the season in the process, though he did suit up in a preseason match with San Diego earlier this year. 

Plus, for the first time since they were teammates together at Toulon in the mid-2010s, Giteau and All Blacks legend Ma’a Nonu will wear the same kit. They’re both slated to suit up for the Legion this weekend, pairing together to mark themselves as one of the most storied 1-2 punches ever seen in MLR history. 

Will they help San Diego pick up crucial points against a hard-charging Dallas squad trying to unseat the Legion in third place in the West, however? That remains to be seen, but it’s also not often you see one club trot out two international centurions in the same match.

Can Hounds Strike Wounded Free Jacks?

The New England Free Jacks may be the defending MLR champions and the leaders in the Eastern Conference at the league’s halfway mark this year, but they’re in a bit of danger of falling apart at the seams, despite 29 points and a strong 6-2 record against league opposition this season. 

The reason? The dreaded injury bug. 

As noted in last week’s weekly recap on FloRugby, New England comfortably defeated Rugby FC Los Angeles despite entering the match without the services of two stars in scrum-half John Poland and No. 8 Wian Conradie, then losing standout back Reece MacDonald for much of the second half due to what appeared to be an arm injury sustained while he dived for his seventh try of the season. 

Already short-handed, a long-term injury to MacDonald, the MLR’s leader in meters run this season at 1,050, would throw the Free Jacks into added disarray for the regular season’s final stages — and for this weekend’s purposes, it also may be a stroke of fortune for the visiting Chicago Hounds. 

Ahead of a top-of-the-table clash between the two best teams in the East, Chicago (which quietly has won three straight games) can cut deeply into its current six-point deficit to New England for the East’s No. 1 spot with a win and potential bonus points. 

The Hounds have broken the 50-point barrier in each of the past two rounds, as well, and reigning MLR Back of the Year Nate Augspurger has been a key to Chicago’s recent surge, as he had a 17-point effort in the Hounds’ win in their last match over Rugby FC Los Angeles on April 21. 

New England will need men to step up and will need its depth to show out at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Sunday, or else the race for the Eastern Conference title could start to become a lot more intriguing.

Warriors’ Form No Fluke?

We’re about to quickly find out whether or not the Utah Warriors are here to stay as potential Western Conference spoilers for the rest of the season. 

After a dreadful 1-3 start to the year in which they were struck down by a host of injuries and struggled to find points, the Warriors have gone on to win three of their past four matches, including a victory this last weekend against Old Glory DC. 

So, who’s up next on the docket and traveling to Zions Bank Stadium on Saturday to try and end Utah’s positive momentum with a thud? None other than the white-hot Houston SaberCats, who lead the West halfway through the regular season and just shut out a very, very talented San Diego side in an impressive performance in Week 9. 

But perhaps Utah’s chances against the probable favorite to win the league aren’t as bleak as they may seem at first glance. 

For starters, Houston will be short-handed, as hooker Tiaan Erasmus was handed a red card in probably the only thing that went wrong for the SaberCats against the Legion last week, making him sit out this weekend’s clash against the Warriors. 

When the two teams met for the first time this season back in Week 1, Utah kept it close and competitive with the SaberCats in Houston, losing 22-15 after finding a spark and scoring 12 points in the final 13 minutes in what proved to be a futile comeback attempt. 

If the second leg between them in Herriman proves to be worth the wait for the Warriors, they’ll need to strike fast against Houston and get it off its game right away, which few sides have proven capable of doing yet this season. 

But with the elevation in Utah and a busy attack that’s completed more passes (1,286) than any club in the MLR this season, the Warriors most certainly have a fighting chance against the current best in the West.

How To Watch Rugby Matches In the United States On FloRugby

The Investec Champions Cup will stream all its matches on FloRugby and the FloSports app in the United States. FloRugby and FloSports also are the U.S. home to:

FloRugby also is home to match archives and match replays. 

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