SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – With the popularity of rugby in the state of Utah, it was only fitting that the new 7-team Major League Rugby is based here, with the Utah Warriors one of the league’s signature franchises.
“It’s awesome,” said Warriors player and former BYU star Paul Lasike. “It’s something that Utah has been on the fringe for many years. They’ve had small club teams like that, so everyone has kind of been waiting for this. At least the rugby community has been waiting for a professional team to finally settle here in Utah.”
“This is going to be exciting, fast-paced, hard-hitting rugby,” added Kory Olsen, a former Utah rugby player. “It will be really fun to watch. If you don’t know the rules and don’t understand it, it will probably take you about ten minutes.”
Lasike described rugby in another way.
“Men wearing short shorts, sweating and playing in muddy grass,” he said with a smile. And killing each other.”
The Warriors, who will kick off their inaugural season March 30th against Glendale, Colorado, have players from New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Zimbabe and the U.S. There are different styles the team has to mesh under head coach Alf Daniels, a New Zealand native. There are also plenty of rivalries to get over, most notably, a local one.
“Honestly, there’s more of a Utah-BYU rivalry than anything else with a lot of Utes and Cougars on the team,” Olsen said. “Other than that, just hearing all the different accents at practice, it’s just really fun stuff.”
The Warriors will play their first two home games at Rio Tinto Stadium before moving to the RSL training complex in Herriman.
“You’ll see unbelievable talent, you’ll see guys who are super human in their size, super fast in their speed and athleticism,” said Warriors general manager Kimball Kjar.
And if you don’t like it, Kjar is willing to make a guarantee.
“If you come and didn’t enjoy it, email me and we’ll let you get your money back,” Kjar said. “But I promise, people will enjoy this.”
The Warriors will play an 11-game schedule against teams from New Orleans, Glendale, Austin, Seattle, Houston and San Diego.