The second-ever Major League Rugby (MLR) Championship Final was played in San Diego on Sunday, and in front of a packed Torero Stadium, the defending champion Seattle Seawolves beat the top-seeded San Diego Legion 26 to 23 with a last-minute try to become back-to-back champions and retain the 2019 MLR Championship Shield.
“It was crazy, man,” Seawolves wing Brock Staller said after the match. “That last 15-20 minutes for myself personally was kind of an emotional roller coaster. I had a bit of a slip-up and I just kept telling myself, ‘What’s important now? What can I do in this moment for us to be successful?’ Just tried to keep those demons out of my head.”
The Seawolves finished 11-4-1 this season and boasted the league’s top scorer in 27-year-old British Columbia native Brock Staller. After edging the Glendale Raptors in the 2018 championship to cap off MLR’s inaugural season, they are once again the top team in the league.
While the result was not what the home San Diego Legion-friendly crowd had hoped to see, the sold-out championship game capped off a successful second season for MLR that has seen spikes in viewership and attendance across the board.
“On behalf of the MLR I’d like to congratulate the Seattle Seawolves ownership group, management and of course their players on a fantastic season,” said MLR Commissioner Dean Howes. “The dramatic finish to the match was a truly exciting way to end our second season and we’re thrilled for the fans in Seattle to taste victory for the second straight year.”
As the MLR looks towards its upcoming third season, it will be welcoming teams from Washington, Atlanta, and Boston as the league continues to gain momentum.
About the Championship Series
Major League Rugby’s Championship series consists of two semi-final games and the MLR Championship game over the course of two weekends. Both semi-final matches were played on Sunday, June 9 with the San Diego Legion beating Rugby United New York at Torero Stadium, San Diego and the Seattle Seawolves beating the Toronto Arrows at Starfire Stadium, Seattle.
MLR is a professional rugby league launched in April of 2018. It’s an initiative of the North American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that North American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR will be the pinnacle of North American rugby, and provide a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for North American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes. There are already over 40 internationals and players from more than 15 countries playing in the MLR. Twenty-two MLR stars represented the USA Eagles and Canada national teams in the opening round of the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship, with more than 30 called up over the course of the tournament.
The teams that competed in MLR Season 2 are Austin Elite, Glendale Raptors, Houston SaberCats, New Orleans Gold, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, Utah Warriors plus new additions Rugby United New York and Toronto Arrows. In 2020, New England Free Jacks and Old Glory DC will bring the total to 11 teams for MLR Season 3.