Utah preps for WarriorsFest, final game of 2024 season

HERRIMAN — The Utah Warriors (5-10) hope to end the 2024 Major League Rugby season with a strong impression when taking on visiting RFC Los Angeles (4-10-1) Friday night in a historic game played at America First Field in Sandy.

The Warriors are coming off a thrilling 50-46 win over the Dallas Jackals and hope to put on display the exciting rugby set forth last week for what is certain to be a number of relatively new rugby fans in attendance this week.

“It’s a great stadium, and we’re expecting a great crowd,” said Warriors Coach Greg Cooper. “We want to finish out in style because the last impression is often the lasting impression…So this is great for the organization — great for the Warriors and rugby in Utah. So it will be nice if we can put on a great display for a great lasting impression.”

Rugby is still a new sport for many in the United States and a primary goal of everyone within the Warriors organization is to promote the game with Friday’s historic match providing a great opportunity to do as much. Sure, the Warriors have been eliminated from postseason play this season, but the goal for Warriors CEO Kimball Kjar and everyone else is the big picture of promoting the sport.

“It’s a great reflection of the Warriors organization,” Cooper said. “We haven’t achieved what we wanted this year, but this, to me, is more of a reflection of what has gone on in the past. Kimball has been outstanding in driving this and it’s been a catalyst for rugby in Utah. It’s really important.”

The good news is Utah appears to have the pieces necessary to put on the type of show envisioned when the game was initially scheduled.

It’s been no secret to those who have followed the team this season that an uncommon rash of injuries have compounded the team’s overall play considerably, but come Friday, Cooper plans to have most of his team available. Star winger Mika Kruse is expected to be sidelined, but other top players such as Tommy Tu’avao, Paul Mullen and Dylan Nel are set to return, which should boost Utah’s potent attack considerably.

As for Los Angeles, it’s also been eliminated from postseason play, although Cooper anticipates a highly-motivated opponent come Friday.

“They’re dangerous,” Cooper said. “They like to attack and I’m pretty sure they’ll want to come and ruin our party. I’m sure that’s motivation for them and I’m sure they’ll be firing everything at their attack, so we need to be accurate defensively. So I’m pretty confident we’ll face a team that is going to throw everything at us and ruin our party.”

As for his own team, Cooper noted a palpable boost to his team’s training this week after last Saturday’s win which snapped a six game losing streak. Sure, the Warriors gave up too many points for Cooper’s liking, but the amount of standout attacks entertained the home crowd considerably, which is important for new fans to see.

“We knew we were far from perfect defensively, but at times we were pretty magical with our attack,” Cooper said. “It’s about showing appreciation to our supporters because they want to see us win, and we haven’t been able to do that. But it’s not due to lack of trying. There’s been a number of circumstances. So, for us, it’s been good for morale.”


WHEN: Friday, June 28


TIME: 8:30 P.M. MST



"I was able to bring my family to three games. It was a lot of fun for all the kids, my wife, and myself. The atmosphere is very family-friendly for even my youngest kids. I had 4 children attend the pregame Jr. Warriors clinics on 2 separate occasions; they had a lot of fun with those experiences and it was a very positive and encouraging environment."