Glendale Raptors look to Experience for 2018 MLR League Squad

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Glendale Raptors look to Experience for New MLR League
DENVER, CO - MAY 18: The Glendale Raptors professional rugby team works out at Infinity Park on May 18, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Over the past few years, the Glendale Raptors have established themselves as one of the best rugby union clubs in the United States. During last year’s Major Rugby Championship, Glendale Raptors absolutely dominated the National champion Austin Huns. Now they are readying themselves for a new challenge – Major League Rugby.

In taking on six other sides, who all have the same goals – to become the first Major League Rugby champion side – Glendale have looked at experience, as a key ingredient for their 2018 squad.

The Glendale Raptors look to capitalize with some of the best experience in the upcoming season of Major League Rugby.

Glendale is one of the newer clubs in the United States, having been established in 2007. In that time however, the men’s team have the Division One national championship, and are two time Pacific Rugby Premiership champions.

The Raptors are the only team in Major League Rugby (MLR) that has maintained their name following the transition to full professionalism in the US system. Glendale changed the name of their amateur side to the Marlins, to maintain the recognizable ‘Raptors brand’ as a stand alone name.

2018 Major League Rugby Squad

The Glendale Raptors have 8 capped USA Eagles players; the second most out of any MLR team. The 9/10 pairing for the Raptors is the best in the nation. Shaun Davies and Will Magie work well together as seen during the America’s Rugby Championship. Both players were featured during the sole season of PRO Rugby, Davies playing for Ohio Aviators and Magie playing for the Denver Stampede.

Glendale also has a good centre pairing with Bryce Cambell and Chad London. Each has scored three tries for the Eagles in a combined 17 appearances. Zach Fenoglio, Ben Landry, and John Quill lead the forwards, with a combined 53 caps between the three of them. Both Fenoglio (see below) and Quill played in PRO rugby, with Quill having additional experience with the London Welsh team in the United Kingdom.

The best part of the team is that none of the major players are new. They all have had time in the Glendale system, and have played together for a while. The Raptors players have the most experience as a whole playing as a unit of any MLR team.

Infinity Park Facilities a big investment by Glendale Raptors

Infinity Park in Glendale is the premier rugby stadium in the USA. With a capacity of 5,000 people, Infinity park is one of the few for purpose rugby stadiums in the country. The facilities are nice, and already set up for professional television coverage and have hosted professional rugby matches before. Prior to a falling out with the Denver Stampede, the Stampede featured some of their matches at Infinity Park.

The only part of concern is not the stadium itself, but the nature of that area of Colorado. The hard winters and blistering summers, as well as the elevation, will make thee travel to Denver very difficult for most teams. Utah is the only other team in the League with an elevation similar to that of Denver. All other teams in the league are from coastal or near coastal cities.

Going in to the first season of MLR, its hard not to look at the Glendale Raptors as a favourite to win the league. Between their talent and experience, they have been firing on all cylinders heading into this season, including a victory over NOLA Gold in an exhibition match this past weekend.

It will be up to the Glendale Raptors to live up to those expectations, as we head into the debut season of Major League Rugby.

 

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