Warriors prep for final home game of 2023
HERRIMAN — Utah Warriors coach Greg Cooper has been around the globe, playing in and coaching at every type of rugby venue one could imagine, but has grown particularly fond of his current locale.
As the Warriors (9-5) prepare to take on the Chicago Hounds (1-13) this Saturday at Zions Bank Stadium, Cooper offered a big smile when asked to compare his team’s home environment to those he’s experienced throughout his more than 30 years.
“It’s right up there with the best,” Cooper said. “There might be bigger stadiums, there might be bigger crowds, but in terms of atmosphere, it rivals some of the best I’ve ever been to. It’s an exciting place to play. The support — it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Indeed Zions Bank Stadium offers a fun environment and an enthusiastic crowd, which will in no doubt come out in full support of the Warriors in what will be the final home game of the 2023 season.
It’s been a season that’s seen some downs, but far more ups as the Warriors look to provide their best win total since the start of Major League Rugby Competition back in 2018. That fact isn’t lost on players, along with what is still a possibility of making the postseason despite last week’s disappointing 27-20 loss to the Seattle Seawolves.
“We can equal the most-ever win total by winning this game on Saturday, and then achieve the most wins in team history if we go on and beat New York the week after,” Cooper said. “So there’s still a lot to play for, and on top of that there’s a playoff opportunity. That may not be in our hands, so the best we can do is focus on what we do.”
Saturday will mark the second time Utah has played Chicago this season, with Cooper’s team slugging out a 14-10 win on the road clear back on March 5.
“I was a really proud coach that day because last year it was a situation where this team probably would have lost,” Cooper said of the win versus Chicago during the third week of the season. “But we hung tough and it was a difficult game to play in what was arguably one of their best games of the year.”
A lot has changed since then, with Utah proving competitive against the league’s very best while the Hounds have struggled significantly in their first year as a franchise. As it stands currently, Utah is on the outside looking in with regards to a postseason berth, sitting four full points behind third-place Houston in the Western Conference standings.
But as Cooper mentioned, what Houston does in its final two games of the season is completely out of the Warriors’ control, although players remain optimistic and energized to take of their own business. All of that helps tremendously when given the opportunity to play at a venue like Zions Bank Stadium.
“It’s one thing to talk about having friends, family and supporters, but we get to absorb it,” Cooper said. “The Warriors don’t just talk about it and (everyone) genuinely appreciates all the support — the players, the family, the friends — they all appreciate it tremendously.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. CHICAGO HOUNDS
DATE: SATURDAY, JUNE 10
TIME: 8:3-00 PM MT
WHERE: ZIONS BANK STADIUM
BROADCAST: KMYU, TRN, 92.1 KOOL FM, ESPN960, ESPN700, KSLSPORTS.COM
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