The Fire and Ice Cup, Toronto vs Atlanta - Game #8 Preview, Lineups & Streaming Info
Source: @TorontoArrows via Twitter
*cues Game of Thrones theme
The Toronto Arrows will battle Rugby ATL in the inaugural Fire and Ice Cup on Saturday night. The Fire and Ice Cup was born out of the Arrows’ relocation to Atlanta for the 2021 season. The Cup itself is engraved with “A commemoration of sportsmanship and unity through rugby”. Rugby ATL have been gracious hosts to the Arrows this season and it’s great to see the relationship built in this bizarre season be commemorated in a fun way in the true spirit of the rugby ethos.
This will be the second meeting between the two roommates this season. Rugby ATL came out on top in the opening week of the season, defeating Toronto 21-14. In the extremely tight eastern conference, the Arrows and RATL both have 3 wins and 16 table points. The Arrows +50-point differential sees them in 3rd place as the currently hold the tie-breaker over RATL (and New England, who also sit at 16 points).
Rugby United New York currently sit on top of the East with 19 points and the entire conference is only separated by 6 points. Ultimately this makes every match in the conference absolutely critical this season. The Arrows are 2-1-0 in their last three matches and are coming off a loss to the NOLA Gold. Rugby ATL is 1-2-0 in their last three, but are coming off their bye week.
RATL is led by Canadian captain Matt Heaton who gets the start at openside flanker. Conor Keys will once again find himself coming off the bench as Marno Redelinghuys and Johan Momsen start at lock.
Rugby ATL is coming off a win over the NOLA Gold before the bye week and Scott Lawrence has not made a lot of changes to the lineup. Vili Helu will start at blindside flanker after Connor Cook was injured in their previous match. Rowan Gouws starts at scrumhalf as Ryan Rees will now come off the bench. Mark O’Keefe gets the nod in the midfield pushing Robbie Petzer to the bench.
Chris Silverthorn has made minimal changes to his lineup for the Fire and Ice Cup. In the starting xv, the only change is Leandro Leivas starts on the wing allowing Gastón Mieres to cover for Joaquín Tuculet at fullback. Tuculet left the last match after a collision with Carl Meyer. The bench will feature a bit of a different look as Adrian Wadden, Kolby Francis, and Will Kelly all draw into the lineup.
The Arrows and RATL have great defenses. A big reason for that is both club’s tackling ability. The Arrows’ tandem of Tomás de la Vega and Lucas Rumball sit 1-2 in the league for tackles made. RATL’s Matt Heaton and Johan Momsen also find themselves in the top 10. This game is full of some of Major League Rugby’s best tacklers. Not only do players like de la Vega, Rumball, Heaton, and Momsen have a lot of tackles, they do it at high percentages too. They all rarely miss. Linebreaks may be hard to come by in this match. The attacks may have to get creative.
The Toronto Arrows lineout has been struggling for most of the season. It will not get much easier as Rugby ATL has proven to be quite good at making life miserable for opposition lineouts. Momsen and Redelinghuys in particular give team’s plenty of trouble and can either steal the ball outright or just make it messy. Cook is also great at this, but is not in the lineup today. De la Vega will likely be the Arrows main target in the lineout once again. The Arrows will need a big game out of him and some precise throws from Andrew Quattrin.
Rumball vs Heaton
This is one of those heavy-weight matchups that Canadian rugby fans mark their calendars for. As mentioned above, the two opensides are among the best tacklers in MLR. They are also a huge presence at the breakdown on both sides of the ball. Rumball’s breakdown steal total is immense and Heaton will be charged with trying to slow that down. The two players are among Canada’s best. They both captain their sides and play the same position. It makes for some great viewing.
The one that comes out on top in this battle may find themselves lifting the Fire and Ice Cup at the end of the game.
You can catch the Arrows battling Rugby ATL for the Fire and Ice Cup on tsn.ca or the TSN app. If you are outside of Canada, the Rugby Network is the place to be. The match kicks off at 7pm.