Legends Cup: Glendale Raptors vs. Seattle Saracens

Marco Cummings   21-Jan-2016   Seth McConnell

Glendale Raptors Rugby Action

Call it preseason. Call it an exhibition. But don’t call it anything but competitive.

This Saturday, the Glendale Raptors will take three sides to the Pacific Northwest as they face off with another powerhouse club of North American Rugby: The Seattle Saracens.

With four recent titles between both teams’ Men’s and Women’s DI sides, it will be a battle of champions when Seattle and Glendale compete in the inaugural Legends Cup, which will honor Dick Smith for his contribution to USA club and national rugby.

“I think the weekend in Seattle will be great for our club,” said Raptors men’s head coach Andre Snyman. “The women’s team, the PRP team and the division II teams will all be there so from a club standpoint it will be great to just bond.”

The two clubs share a rich history that started in the early 1980s. Glendale director of rugby Mark Bullock played for Seattle and coached various men’s, women’s and youth programs in Seattle from 1982-1996. Seattle club president Kevin Flynn and Raptors forwards coach Ted Browner are former college teammates at St Mary’s University in London, England.

“This is a taste of what we used to do prior to our teams playing in the PRP and WPL,” Bullock said. “It is getting back to our roots and having club matches with multiple teams playing the same club opponent.”

Glendale has faced Seattle three times since the club was founded, and each team has experienced wins at the other’s home field. That’s good news for the Raptors, who will be playing at Magnuson Park in Seattle this weekend.

The first game of the day will be between the two women’s teams as the Raptors Women, current back-to-back Women’s Premier League (WPL) Champions will face the Saracen women, who are the current Division 1 National Champions. It marks the debut meeting between the two women’s sides. A host of women’s Eagles with compete for each team with the likes of Hannah Stolba, Rachel Ryan and Sarah Chobart representing the Raptors and Kelsi Stockert, Carrie White and Kristine Sommer for Seattle.

“[Seattle Saracens] are a very good side, the defending USA Rugby Division 1 champions,” explained Bullock, who coaches the women’s side. “They are also in their [British Columbia] season so they are game hardened with a strong and talented team. They are very physical and have strong running backs. They will be difficult for us to handle as we are just playing this one-off match prior to our season beginning in March.”

That match will be followed by one between the two men’s B sides, one that will prove to be important for players and coaches alike in terms of evaluating talent.

“It’s just an opportunity to see players play, especially the new faces,” explained Snyman. “Whether they play on a PRP team or DII, I just want to see some of the talent out there and scout and recruit within the club and finalize my final 50 guys.

Closing out Saturday’s action will be the fourth meeting between the men’s first teams, with Glendale entering as the current holders of the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) title and Seattle as recent winners of the league crown in the British Columbia Rugby Union (BCRU).

Each team has its fair share of USA Eagles on their respective rosters. Glendale has recent World Cup participants Zach Fenoglio and Niku Kruger, however both aren’t rostered for the weekend. Likewise Seattle will bring along its own World Cup participants including Olive Kilifi, Louis Stanfill, Matt Trouville and Shalom Suniula.

“You measure yourself against a quality team that are the champions of their league. Strength vs. strength,” Snyman explained.

It will provide a formidable test as Glendale’s men prepare for the upcoming PRP season.

“The last two years, we never had a game before the PRP started,” Snyman added. “This time we do, so it will be interesting to see what kind of impact it has. It will help the guys settle their nerves and get the rust and the dust off of themselves. The bottom line is to get the guys game time and prepare them for the season.”

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