We’ve finally reached the final of the 2021 Major League Rugby season, and Sunday’s match looks set to be a classic between LA Giltinis and Rugby ATL.
This is the third edition of the final, and we will have a brand new winner this season. The previous two in 2018 and 2019 have seen the Seattle Seawolves win both. There was no final in 2020, as the season was canceled just 5 weeks in due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Match – 2021 Major League Rugby Final
- Teams – LA Giltinis vs Rugby ATL
- Venue – LA Memorial Coliseum, 3911 Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90037, United States
- Date – 1st August 2021
- Time – 4pm ET
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Road to the Final
Major League Rugby has two conferences, they are the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference.
There are 6 sides in each conference, and in total, all 6 sides play 16 matches each.
At the end of the regular season, the top 2 sides from both conferences play off against each other. The winners of both play-off matches then go into the Major League Rugby Final.
The match is to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is the home stadium of the Giltinis.
This is because LA Giltinis had a better record in their conference than Rugby ATL did. Giltinis won 63 points in the Western Conference, while Rugby ATL won 57 points in the Eastern Conference, meaning Giltinis ranked highest and got a home advantage for the final.
Let’s take a look at the two finalists.
The first team to reach the final were Eastern Conference winners Rugby ATL. It was far from plain sailing for the men from Atalanta, as they needed a late Try and Conversion to beat Rugby United New York (RUNY) 10-9 on Saturday.
Going into the final 10 minutes of the first semi-final, RUNY were leading 9-3 and looked set to reach their first-ever final.
That was until Alex Maughan scored a 75th minute Try to reduce the deficit to 1 point. Then Kurt Coleman kicked the match-winning Conversion 60 second later and put Rugby ATL into the final.
Before their semi-final, Rugby ATL and RUNY finished first and second in the Eastern Conference. Third place went to New Orleans Gold, but New Orleans was always playing catch up, and never really looked like breaking into the top 2.
Rugby ATL finished the regular league season with an 11-5 record. They had an impressive Tries Difference of +17 as well.
ATL’s closest rivals were RUNY. The New Yorkers had a 10-6 record, which ultimately cost them the top spot. In the finish, it was the one win less than ATL that was the difference, as both sides had identical bonus points (13 each).
Rugby ATL did have a far superior points difference over RUNY as well. ATL ended the season with a points difference of +99, which was a cool 70 points better than RUNY, who finished the campaign on +29.
As you will see when you read on, ATL may have been the strongest side in the Eastern Conference, but their record comes a distant second to Sunday’s opponents in the MLR Final.
Los Angeles Giltinis won an impressive 12 out of 16 matches in what is their first season in Major League Rugby. A 12-4 record is impressive enough, but LA also had an astonishing +240 points difference.
No other side in either conference had a positive points difference in three figures.
LA was run close in winning the Western Conference by Utah Warriors. The Warriors had a decent enough 10-6 record, in finishing just 6 points behind LA.
The team that came closest to splitting up the two runaway leaders was Austin Gilgronis. Unfortunately for Austin, impressive as their 9-7 record was, they still finished 10 points behind Utah (57 points) due to not picking enough bonus points.
While Austin picked up just 4 points less than Utah for wins, Shawn Pittman’s Utah side captured 17 bonus points, to Austin’s 11 bonus points.
In the finish, the top 2 teams in the Western Conference were LA Giltinis and Utah Warriors.
Going into the MLR semi-final match, LA was rightly the favorites with all sportsbooks. But with an hour played, Utah was leading and looked set to cause a major upset.
That was until LA’s superior class eventually shone through, and a late Try double from Ryan James (68 and 77 mins) seen the home side win 17-13.
And then there were two.
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) July 26, 2021
Who will win the Major League Rugby Final?
The top sportsbooks have LA Giltinis as favorites in the latest rugby betting, and it’s not difficult to see why.
To start with, Giltinis have a far better conference record than Rugby ATL. The gulf in class is no better illustrated than in Points and Tries Difference.
In Points Difference, LA has a huge +240 record, to Rugby ATL’s +99. While in Tries Difference, it’s +43 for Giltinis, to Rugby ATL’s +17 record.
As well as that, big game players will be crucial, and not surprisingly, LA Giltinis have the upper hand there as well.
They have two Australian legends in Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper. Both players have over 100 international caps each.
They may be short on honors, but they aren’t short on experience and know-how. Having spent entire careers battling with world champions the All Blacks, these two know their way around a rugby pitch.
They know how to get the job done. And with these two in the side, I can’t see anything other than a maiden MLR win for LA Giltinis.
Check out Top Sportsbooks for more odds on the Major League Rugby Final 2021, and also for the best betting odds on Rugby.