With the release of the 2022 Major League Rugby season, fans can now decide where to spend their hard earned money come early February. Last year, with the pandemic, and other unknowns throwing wrenches into just about every teams planning, the season started later, and some teams were not able to host fans for the first few months. But 2022 offers a fresh beginning to what will be another banger of an MLR season.
|Sexy Lookin Bracket ... 🤤|
A few takeaways from the schedule ...
1) Warm weather cities get first home advantage
The AG's host 6 of their first 8 games (and thus travel for 6 of the remaining 8 to end the year). This can work wonders for teams that want to get a hot start and a foothold in the table. Texas weather in February tends to be quite nice (pending random cold fronts that have been known to tax the energy grid), so Rugby PickEm may be looking to catch the opener come Feb 5.
2) Three seeds for each conference (with a built in bye to the semis)
Six out of the 13 teams will make the playoffs in 2022. The Eastern division will field 6 teams, whereas the Western division will field 7. Does this make it harder to make the playoffs in the West? Statistically speaking, perhaps ... but we have to see which conference looks more powerful after about 4 weeks worth of gameplay (we'll check back in on East v West in March). Last year the East was significantly stronger than the West top to bottom. Will it be the same this year? How serious will Dallas' first year squad be?
Another significant change: Number 1 seeds will get a bye week straight into the Semi Finals. The built in bye week for the 1st seeds will hopefully incite competition down to the very final week. The Giltinis had won the west in 2021 with about 4 weeks to go. They essentially ran away with it. Perhaps adding another team into the playoffs will keep those teams in the middle of the table more competitive towards the latter end of the year.
3) Playoffs in June
Love this. Why wait until July where Eagles and other test players are being taken away from their teams? This will allow national selectors to hone in on the final weeks of the regular season and playoffs to see which young players are able to throw their hand up and demand selection in big games. The spotlight creates pressure, and from pressure you get diamonds. Let's hope a few diamonds reveal themselves in the buildup to a crucial RWC qualifying summer in 2022.
Three Teams, One Cup
The Texas Cup is a Rugby PickEm favorite event. However, we did have to educate Tommy NoPiks on what "Cup Matches" actually entail. With Dallas' entry into the fold (officially this time), there are now more possibilities than ever with 3 teams actively vying for the illustrious hardware throughout the year. Can Dallas get their hands on it in week 1 against a strong AG's side? Hoisting the Texas Cup would certainly be a great way to start a franchise (officially this time).
If Austin wins the opener, there won't be a follow up Texas Cup game until 8 weeks later when the Houston SaberCats roll into Bold Stadium on April 3rd.
BUT .... if somehow Dallas does the improbable and beats the AG's, they'll have to defend the Texas Cup just two weeks later. If the MLR is nailing anything, it's slick schedule releases in the middle of the offseason ... and the glorious Texas Cup.
|Can new league entrant Dallas Jackals get their paws on the illustrious Texas Cup???|