When the Glendale, Colo., Raptors show up at Starfire Stadium to face the Seattle Seawolves this Saturday (April 28), they’ll be without two of their dominant players.
Ben Landry, second row, and Connor Cook, wing forward, have both been suspended for three weeks by Major League Rugby. Both Landry and Cook received red cards last Saturday for dump tackling – upending a player and driving him head first into the ground – during the Raptors’ 41-26 win over the Austin Elite.
Both Landry and Cook had scored tries before they were ordered out of the game, not to be replaced.
Landry has played for the U.S. national team, and when his MLR season ends, he’ll head off to England to play for the Ealing Trailfinders.
Cook played for the Waimea Rugby Club in Hawaii, for Arkansas State University and might have the best dreadlocks in rugby.
While not having these two players on the field might seem advantage Seawolves, Seattle fans might be wise to hold their glee in check. Despite losing Landry, Cook and then another player who received a yellow card at 73:35, the Raptors were able to prevent the Elite from scoring. Playing 12 men to 15 and keeping the 15 out of the try zone for almost 10 minutes indicates some defensive prowess.
The Seawolves’ lineup will probably be missing Riekert Hattingh this week. He took a blow to the head during the first half of the 39-23 win over the San Diego Legion last week that left him staggering to the sideline with the help of medical staff. Before that, he had startled the San Diego backs and thrilled Seattle fans when he burst out the back of a San Diego ruck that seemed to have the ball well protected and ran 50 yards up the field before passing to his backs. He’s a thrill to watch, but safety says to keep him out for the week.
The Seawolves come into Saturday’s game riding a positive wave of good tidings. They were named the team of the week by Major League Rugby. Both Seawolves’ props, Kellen Gordon and Tim Metcher, made the league’s rep side of the week as did fullback Matt Turner. Player coach Phil Mack didn’t make the team of the week but he was named player of the week.
How does that happen?
Nonetheless, the league had nice things to say about Mack, who took over head coaching duties only a couple of weeks before the first game:
“Mack’s duties over the past few weeks have increased,” the league said. “Stepping into the lead coaching role, he built a game plan based around the Seawolves strength in the scrum. His agility and ball speed out of the ruck put the ball in the hands of his fly-half Will Holder for quick-play. Mack’s timely box kicks took the pressure off the Seawolves when they were within their own half.”
Seawolves’ management says the fan experience will be even better this week at Starfire. Twice as many beer and wine stands. More bathrooms. Another food truck. Lines on the field made more visible (they’ll be the blue ones).
But they promise the sunshine from last week?
Gates open at 5:30, and there is a curtain raiser between two youth clubs: Budd Bay vs. Liberty Club.
The game is sold out, but it’s the game of the week on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff and broadcast at 7:30 p.m.
(See last week’s game coverage in The Seattle Times.)