MLR Expansion Draft: RUNY
MLR Expansion Draft: RUNY
Rugby United New York began the season with injury and visa issues and needed to shift players to other positions and to have several young players see action during the first two weeks of the season in Las Vegas.
Editor's Note: Our list of unprotected players is our list alone—not an official team list of unprotected players but our speculation based on what we know.
After a loss to New England, the team rebounded with three straight wins before a close loss to the San Diego Legion. All matches were played away with the MLR season ending before their home opener. Still, the team finished in 5th place with a 3-2 record.
The team's 38 players ranged in age from 21-35. Eleven players are 30-35 (Mike Petri 35, Ben Foden, James Denise 34, Trevor Cassidy 32, Nate Blakely, Matt Wirken, Kirkland Hamilton, Kyle Sumsion, Harry Bennett, Mike St. Claire 30). Fourteen players are 21-25 (Mark O'Keeffe, Jake Feury, Charlie Hewitt, Eric Tack 25, Connor Wallace-Sims, Will Leonard, Rob Irimescu, Will Burke, Julio Cesar Giraldo, Troy Lockyear, Evan Mintern24, Hanco Germishuys, Alec McDonald 23, Jonas Petrkopoulos21). The remaining thirteen players are 26-29.
Starting props are Irish prop James Rochford and USA international Paddy Ryan with Anthony Parry and Kirkland Hamilton the reserves. The team has three younger props in Alec McDonnell (LH/TH), Will Burke (TH), and Jonas Petrakopoulos (TH/H) which could develop. Former Penn State prop Brian McKellar (LH) has not played during regular-season matches in his two years with the team.
USA National Team hooker Dylan Fawsitt was named the captain of the team and was backed up by Mike Brown. Fawsitt, who has moved to the back row in some matches, is a team leader and would be devastating if lost. Rob Irimescu and Jonas Petrakopulos could also play hooker if the need arose.
USA National team lock Nate Brakeley was an iron man during the shortened season. He played every minute for the team initially at blindside flanker in the first match, before moving back to lock. He had stats on arriving at the breakdown that was off the charts. The team lost Alex MacDonald to a preseason injury and then Trevor Cassidy in week one. Matt Wirken saw greater starting time before the arrival of Charlie Hewitt from the Houston SaberCats.
In the back row, the team expected Kiwi Super Rugby flanker Kara Pryor and Irish No.8 Evan Mintern, but their visas were not approved until after the season. They will be joining the team in 2021. Hanco Germishuys, a USA National team player, was also a late signing addition at blindside flanker and joined openside flanker James Denise in starting roles. With Mathieu Bastareaud moving from the center to No.8, Kyle Sumsion played both blindside flanker and No. 8 when he did not have employment obligations at West Point. Colombian Julio Cesar Giraldo also played in Las Vegas as a reserve.
The halfback combination had Marcus Walsh pairing with Cathal Marsh, with former USA international Mike Petri gaining a spot start with other appearances as a reserve. Harry Bennett was a reserve at flyhalf and fullback.
Chris Mattina started five matches, with four at inside center and one on the right-wing. He paired with Will Leonardfor three matches as Leonard missed two matches due to a match infraction. Troy Lockyear started those matches in his place. Jake Feury did not play during the regular season.
In the back three, England international Ben Foden started all five matches at fullback. Connor Wallace-Sims started all matches on the left-wing, with Mark O’Keeffe playing in four matches, starting three others on the right-wing and Quentin Pradere the other.JP Aguirre also played in one match as a reserve. Australian international Drew Mitchell was also signed by the team, by his visa approval came after the shortened season ended. Eric Tack did not play during the regular season.
The team has several future needs. The team needs to add younger players at key positions. They need one/two experienced props, a lock, scrumhalf, flyhalf, and fullback. Both Irish scrumhalf Jason Higgins and lock Cormac Daly visas were not approved and did not join the team.
With Mathieu Bastareaud signing a two-year contract with Lyon, the team needs to leave seven players unprotected. Both Mike Petri and James Denise have employment ties to the area and are included in our list. Brian McKellar, Eric Tack, Julio Cesar-Giraldo, JP Aguirre also are on our list. Jack Feury is the last selection and is a business owner in the area. Should the team want to protect one of the other players, they could add Army West Point Assistant Rugby Coach Kyle Sumsion to our list instead, as he is not leaving the area.
DJCoil Rugby articles by Doug Coil are also available on Facebook. Other Social Media sites to follow or subscribe include Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for interviews.