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Toronto Arrows vs. NOLA Gold 20190407
All photos are Copyright © Jeff Chan, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications including by the Toronto Arrows, NOLA Gold, MLR, and Rugby Canada, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan.
All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved.
Jeff was the co-founder and co-Chairman of the inaugural Canadian University Men's Rugby Championship in 2017, and is the Chairman of the 2019 CUMRC hosted by Concordia University in Montreal, QC, November 20-24.
Toronto 31, NOLA 35
ARROWS EARN TWO BONUS POINTS IN HOME OPENER DEFEAT TO NOLA GOLD
From the highlight-reel tries and show-stopping tackles to the roar from the raucous, sell-out crowd, the first-ever professional rugby union match played in Canada was unquestionably full-value for fans, but a last-gasp try from the NOLA Gold dashed the Toronto Arrows’ hopes of securing a win in the club’s 2019 home opener on Sunday afternoon.
A sold-out crowd of 3,081 took in the match at York Alumni Stadium, and was treated to an engaging, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw the visiting Gold steal a 35-31 win after NOLA lock Ignacio Dotti scored a try on the final play of the game.
Toronto enjoyed a dream start to life at home, with wing Dan Moor scoring less than a minute into the match. Outside centre Spencer Jones started the scoring play with a slicing run through NOLA’s defensive line, and after drawing defenders in, he sprung Moor with a deft pass.
The Arrows’ joy would be fleeting, as the top-seeded Gold wasted little time responding. Just minutes after Moor’s opening try, NOLA was awarded a penalty try and Arrows wing Avery Oitomen was sin-binned for what the referee deemed as a dangerous tackle in the corner. The Gold struck twice more with the man advantage, scoring back-to-back tries from fullback JP Eloff and outside centre Tristan Blewett to put the visitors up 21-7 after 13 minutes.
Urged on by home supporters, momentum began to swing back in Toronto’s favour, and the hosts were rewarded after fullback Gaston Mieres went over in the corner in the 25th minute.
New Orleans hooker Eric Howard added to the visitors’ lead when he barged across in the 31st minute, but the Arrows answered back just before the stroke of the halftime whistle. After Gold lock Kyle Baillie was issued a yellow card for a high tackle, Mieres scored his third try in two matches following a pinpoint long-distance pass from fly-half Sam Malcolm.
Toronto regained the lead after receiving early second-half tries from scrum-half Andrew Ferguson and prop Morgan Mitchell, putting the hosts ahead 31-28.
While the opening 55 minutes of the match featured a nine-try scoring spree, the remaining 25 minutes became a defensive showcase. The two sides traded possession until late in the match, when NOLA slowly advanced into Toronto territory to eventually score the winner at the death.
“We’re gutted after this one,” said Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn. “To fall on the last play of the game is a result we’re all disappointed with, especially in front of our home fans. We had so many positives throughout the match, and to not take all five points leaves a bitter taste in our mouth when we know we should’ve done better.”
Sunday’s match marks the second time Toronto has fallen to NOLA by less than a one-try margin this year; the Arrows lost to the Gold 36-31 in the first week of the 2019 Major League Rugby season.
“While the loss stings, I was so impressed by the home crowd this afternoon,” added Silverthorn. “The turned out in droves, filled up the stands to the point where it was standing room only, and were loud and supportive from beginning to end. Today was a special day in Canadian rugby history, and we can’t wait to provide more of these hallmark days in the coming months and years.”
The double bonus-point defeat drops Toronto’s record to 4-5-0, though the expansion club remains in sixth position in league standings with 24 points. NOLA’s victory keeps the Louisiana outfit at the top of the table with a 7-2-0 record and 38 points.
The Arrows enter round 12 of the season with a home match against Austin Elite Rugby (0-9-0) on Sunday, Apr. 14. Match tickets can be purchased at torontoarrows.com/tickets.
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: D. Moor (1), G. Mieres 2 (24, 39), A. Ferguson (45), M. Mitchell (52)
Conversions: S. Malcolm 3 (2, 40, 46)
NOLA Gold Score Report
Tries: Penalty Try (5), J.P. Eloff (11), T. Blewett (13), E. Howard (30), I. Dotti (79)
Conversions: J.P. Eloff 4 (12, 14, 31, 80)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. NOLA Gold
1. Rob Brouwer // Lindsay
2. Andrew Quattrin // Aurora Barbarians
3. Morgan Mitchell // Southland Stags (New Zealand)
4. Mike Sheppard // Stoney Creek Camels
5. Paul Ciulini // Aurora Barbarians
6. John Moonlight // Ajax Wanderers
7. Peter Milazzo // Toronto Scottish
8. Lucas Rumball (C) // Balmy Beach
9. Andrew Ferguson // Oakville Crusaders
10. Sam Malcolm // Manawatu Turbos (New Zealand)
11. Dan Moor (C) // Balmy Beach
12. Guiseppe du Toit // UVic Vikes
13. Spencer Jones // Hamilton Old Boys (New Zealand)
14. Avery Oitomen // Oakville Crusaders
15. Gaston Mieres // Lobos (Uruguay)
16. Steven Ng // Barrhaven Scottish
17. Tom Dolezel // London St. George’s
18. Cole Keith // Belleisle Rovers
19. Kolby Francis // Brantford Harlequins
20. Marcello Wainwright // Toronto Scottish
21. Jamie Mackenzie // Balmy Beach
22. Kainoa Lloyd // Mississauga Blues
23. Theo Sauder // UBC Thunderbirds
Vice President & General Manager: Mark Winokur
Director of Rugby: Chris Silverthorn
Coaches: Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector, Peter Smith
Performance Analyst: Rodin Lozada
Team Physicians: Dr. Anthony Dixon, Dr. Chris Gallimore, Dr. John Gillis
Athletic Therapist: Perry Fan
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
TORONTO ARROWS BRING PRO RUGBY UNION TO CANADA, LOSING HEARTBREAKER TO NOLA GOLD
By @NeilMDavidson, National Post
Pro rugby union arrived in Canada on Sunday, complete with a sellout crowd, a run on beer and a heartbreaking ending for the Toronto Arrows.
Trailing the NOLA Gold 28-19 at the half in Major League Rugby play, expansion Toronto pulled ahead 31-28 on tries by Andrew Ferguson, in the 45th minute, and Morgan Mitchell, in the 54th minute. Sam Malcolm converted the first try but saw his kick crucially hit the post for the second.
The rest of the match was an arm-wrestle with an effective Toronto defence holding off NOLA Gold, in midfield for the most part. But a penalty to the Arrows allowed the visitors from New Orleans to attack the goal-line late.
After some spirited Toronto defence, Ignacio Dotti dove over for the winning try in the 79th minute as the league-leading NOLA Gold edged the Arrows 35-31.
“Very disappointed,” said Chris Silverthorn, the Arrows’ director of rugby, who questioned some of the calls that went against his team late. “I thought we had it … I’m very frustrated right now.”
The expansion Arrows (4-5-0) had their first eight games on the road. They will play their next seven matches at home.
The one stand at York Alumni Stadium was filled for kickoff with the PA announcer drawing laughs when he mistakenly said the game ball was being brought out to centre ice. Attendance was announced as a sellout of 3,081 with organizers temporarily running out of beer.
The spectators got to see an entertaining game on a milestone day for Canadian rugby.
“It’s awesome, because you can see here we can actually make rugby work in Canada,” said veteran Arrows flanker John Moonlight, a former Canada rugby sevens captain. “Three thousand people at our first game and it’s only going to get better, especially when we move down to Lamport.
“And it gives these young guys something to strive for. They can now see at home where you can go to, how you can make a living off of playing this sport.”
After four games at York, the Arrows will play their final four home games of the season at Lamport Stadium.
Gaston Mieres scored two tries while Dan Moor added one for the Arrows. Malcolm kicked three conversions.
J.P. Eloff, Tristan Blewett and Canadian Eric Howard also scored tries for the visitors from New Orleans, who were also awarded a penalty try. Eloff, a U.S. international, kicked four conversions for NOLA Gold (7-2-0).
The Arrows join the Toronto Wolfpack, who play the 13-man rugby league version of the game, as pro rugby teams in Canada.
It was dream start for the Arrows, with Moor touching down in the corner for the first home try in the second minute. Malcolm converted for a 7-0 lead.
But just minutes later, NOLA was awarded a penalty try and Arrows winger Avery Oitomen was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle in the corner. Back-to-back tries by Eloff and Blewett put the visitors up 21-7 after 13 minutes.
The Arrows laid siege to the NOLA goal-line, kicking for touch and opting for scrums given several penalties. Rather than kick for goal, they kept looking for the try only to have the prolonged attack end in a handling error.
Toronto began to win control of the scrum and, after a set-piece penalty, Uruguay’s Mieres went over in the corner in the 25th minute to cut the lead to 21-12.
NOLA added to its lead in the 31st minute when Howard, completing a lengthy onslaught near the Toronto goal-line, crashed over for the try. Minutes later Canadian Kyle Baillie was sin-binned for a high tackle on Oitomen.
There was some ill-temper in the game, with Arrows vice-captain Lucas Rumball complaining to no avail that a NOLA player pulled his hair while they struggled on the ground.
Mieres scored his second in the 40th minute, the last man on a Canadian overlap down the left flank.
The Arrows blanked NOLA in the second half until the decisive try.
New Orleans beat visiting Toronto 36-31 on Jan. 26 in the season opener for both teams. The Arrows, trailing 24-7 at the half, rallied for 24 points in the second half but their spirited comeback fell just short.
New Orleans is captained by Howard, a hooker who played for the nearby Brantford Harlequins. The NOLA roster also features fellow Canadian internationals Hubert Buydens and Baillie, who celebrated his 28th birthday Sunday.
“We knew it was going to be a scrap going through the whole thing,” said Baillie. “It was just whoever could slug it out the full 80 (minutes).”
Silverthorn made two changes to the starting lineup that beat Utah 64-31 last time out. Hooker Andrew Quattrin returned from injury and Moonlight, whose day job is firefighter in his hometown of Pickering, Ont., made his second appearance of the season.
The Arrows’ 23-man matchday squad included 14 full internationals — 13 from Canada and one from Uruguay.
All photos on this site are Copyright © Jeff Chan, except as noted, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved, and any use of these photographs without the author’s express written consent is prohibited.