Arrows Add LeSage and Big Pieces Return
The Toronto Arrows have announced their 3rd group of signings for the 2020 Major League Rugby season. The group includes seven returning players and two new additions to the club. The seven returning players are:
Prop: Rob Brouwer, Pat Lynott Lock: Mike Shepard Scrumhalf: Riley DiNardo, Jamie Mackenzie Wing: Dan Moor, Johnny Sheridan
The two new additions are:
Prop: Tyler Rowland Centre: Ben LeSage
Arrows fans will be pleased to see that many of the previously unannounced stars and fan favourites have returned. Rob Brouwer, Mike Sheppard, and Dan Moor highlight the group of returning players. Moor served as the Arrows’ captain in 2019. He had a team-leading 7 tries and 1,092 metres carried in 2019. He frequently showed off his versatility by excelling at wing and centre throughout the year. His play earned him 2nd All-MLR Team honours (at 11) in 2019. Brouwer and Sheppard were unstoppable in the Arrows pack last season.
Both of them were the best players at their position in MLR rugby last year. Both men excelled on the defensive side of the ball. Sheppard led the Arrows with 203 tackles (and he missed 2 games) with many of them falling under the bone-crushing variety. Brouwer hit equally as hard leading the team with 19 dominant tackles. Both Brouwer and Sheppard were key members of the great Arrows scrum that created a solid attacking platform throughout the season.
The Arrows had great depth at scrumhalf last season and they will continue to in 2020. Jamie Mackenzie, one of Canada’s Rugby World Cup scrumhalves, returns as does Riley Di Nardo. Both Mackenzie and Di Nardo will join the already re-signed Andrew Ferguson and the Arrows have all three scrumhalves return.
Loosehead prop Patrick Lynott had 26 tackles in 10 games last year. Lynott primarily came off the bench in relief of Brouwer last season and looks poised to play a similar role in 2019.
Rounding out the returning group is Johnny Sheridan. Sheridan was primarily an Academy player last season. He appeared in 6 games, scoring 2 tries. Unfortunately for him, the wing was one of the Arrows deepest positions last year making it difficult for him to regularly crack the lineup. He did put in plenty of offseason work and was a member of the Markham Irish side that appeared in the McCormick Cup final.
Two UBC Thunderbirds have been added to the squad for the 2020 season. Tyler Rowland is a 20-year-old tighthead prop who has featured extensively on the Canadian national age grade sides. He most recently represented Canada at the U20 Trophy earlier this year. Rowland will join a load group of front-rowers. Rowland, Lynott, and Brouwer all either return to or join a group that already features Andrew Quattrin, Steven Ng, Cole Keith, Mike Smith, and Richie Asiata.
Ben LeSage was Kingsley Jones’ first choice at outside centre throughout the Rugby World Cup (including the pre-tournament games). LeSage has earned 15 caps for Canada throughout his career. LeSage was one of 3 amateur players selected by Jones for the Rugby World Cup. LeSage has earned his first pro contract with the Arrows and has previously played for UBC and the Calgary Canucks.
The signing of Ben LeSage helps illustrate the benefit of the Arrows and MLR as a whole. An amateur player who just graduated from UBC and has already represented his country on the biggest stage gets an opportunity to stay in a professional environment throughout the year and further develop his skillset.
The Arrows have talked a lot about adding depth this offseason and the signing of LeSage accomplishes that task. He will join a group of centres that includes Guiseppe du Toit, Spencer Jones, Mitch Richardson, and (occasionally) Dan Moor. Ultimately, this should create plenty of competition for both the 12 and 13 jerseys when training camp rolls around.
The Arrows now have 30 players signed for the 2020 season. The majority of the core that helped the Arrows earn a playoff birth in their inaugural season is set to return. Mark Winokur has done well to add some depth at certain positions.
A notable omission from this group of signings is flyhalf Sam Malcolm. Malcolm was key player for the Arrows and became the first non-Canadian to captain the side when he led the team against the Utah Warriors. Malcolm is believed to be returning, but just has not officially put pen to paper. The Arrows will announce more signings in the coming weeks. As of now, the 2020 Toronto Arrows are:
Props: Richie Asiata, Rob Brouwer, Cole Keith, Patrick Lynott, Tyler Rowland, Mike Smith Hookers: Steven Ng, Andrew Quattrin Locks: Paul Ciulini, Mike Sheppard, Josh Van Horne, Tom Van Horne Back Row: Tomas del la Vega, Manuel Diana, Peter Milazzo, Lucas Rumball, Marcello Wainwright Scrumhalf: Riley DiNardo, Andrew Ferguson, Jamie Mackenzie Flyhalf: Tayler Adams, Will Kelly Centre: Giuseppe du Toit, Spencer Jones, Ben LeSage, Mitch Richardson Wing: Leandro Leivas, Dan Moor, Johnny Sheridan Fullback: Gaston Mieres