Warriors Set to Kick Off 2022 Season Against San Diego
HERRIMAN — It’s absolutely fitting that the Utah Warriors open the 2022 season taking on the San Diego Legion this Sunday (February 6) at Torero Stadium.
Considering what occurred the last time the two teams squared off, and what the Warriors took from the thrilling 45-41 comeback win, Sunday’s opener holds a good amount of intrigue. It also features two teams that most expect to be among the best in Major League Rugby this season.
As for Warrior wing James Vaifale, he won’t forget the last time the teams squared off any time soon.
Subbing in late, Vaifale took the ball across the try line in what was literally the final seconds of the game to complete a thrilling 17-point comeback win for his team over the Legion.
“It was a great comeback for us, but it was also a really big win because it put us up in the standings where we eventually clinched the No. 2 spot,” Vaifale said. “It really meant a lot for the team and gave us a lot of momentum.”
Indeed the Warriors won three of their final four games of the season from there, earning the second spot from the Western Conference for the MLR playoffs.
While it will be hard to match the sheer drama of the last time the two teams met, the match holds the same level of importance.
“We try and approach every game the same and give it everything we got,” said Paul Mullen, who previously played for the Legion in 2019 before joining the Warriors last season. “We’re excited to get this thing going and to start off the season hopefully with a win.”
Defeating the Legion is rarely an easy task as it’s proved one of the top organizations within Major League Rugby since the league was founded in 2018. Two finishes on top of the Western Conference standings in four years speak to the team’s ability to form a top team, which players and coaches expect this year.
We've been waiting 𝟏𝟗𝟎 𝐃𝐀𝐘𝐒 to post this 👀
— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) January 31, 2022
What can also be expected in Sunday’s match is a close contest. Before staging the aforementioned thrilling comeback win, the Warriors dropped a narrow 31-29 decision at San Diego where a late rally came up just short.
“We’re looking for another good game,” Vaifale said. “And we’re excited to get this thing going. We’re feeling good after the scrimmage we had and it’s time to get this thing going. It’s exciting.”
Spirits are high among both players and coaches at the outset of the 2022 season, which has the Warriors pegged as one of the top teams to contend with given their breakthrough campaign last year. As for whatever expectations are placed on the team, the players and coaches are doing their best to ignore them.
“We’re just focused on San Diego and giving them our best effort,” Mullen said.
Focus on what’s just in front of them is imperative, given the Warriors somewhat compressed start to the 2022 season. Following Sunday’s match versus the Legion, Utah will jump on a plane almost immediately after to travel to Seattle where it squares off versus the Seattle Seawolves on Thursday.
UTAH WARRIORS VS. SAN DIEGO LEGION
Date: Sunday, February 6
Time: 3:00 PM MT
Where: San Diego, Calif.
Broadcast: KMYU, The Rugby Network, KSLsports.com
Radio: ESPN 700 and ESPN 960
Brandon Gurney is the Utah Warriors Team Reporter. With nearly two decades of experience covering BYU Football in print and on radio, Gurney brings a wealth of experience to the Utah Warriors beat. You can read all of Gurney’s stories on the Utah Warriors throughout the 2022 Season at WarriorsRugby.com
LANDMARK 3-YEAR PARTNERSHIP FOR OFFICIAL KIT PARTNER OF MAJOR LEAGUE RUGBY ANNOUNCED
HERRIMAN, Utah – The Utah Warriors have added Sebastian Pearson to their
The Rugby Alliance Officially Formed: Stade Toulousain and Utah Warriors Unite to Elevate Rugby to New Heights
SALT LAKE CITY (Sept. 21, 2023) – Stade Toulousain, led by President
Largest Scrum in History Bested Guinness World Record after USA Eagles Victory over Stade Toulousain
SALT LAKE CITY (Sept. 17, 2023) – A new Guinness World Record
SANDY, Utah (September 15, 2023) — Five Utah Warriors athletes will pull