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Cali Cup Team named for huge showdown against SD Legion

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3 weeks ago

Rugby Football Club Los Angeles have announced the starting line-up for their match against the San Diego Legion this Sunday, May 26, kicking off at 3 p.m. local time (PST), at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

RFCLA are looking to make it a club record with three consecutive wins, and are out for revenge for a 19-18 loss to the Legion in Week Three.

With a 3-6-1 record, RFCLA are still in the playoff hunt, trailing the fourth-place Legion by nine points in MLR’s Western Conference with six matches left in the season, with two of their western conference rivals having the bye next week.

Full-back Andrew Coe (No. 15), said the Legion and RFCLA fans should expect more of the exciting playmaking from the past two weeks than what his team delivered in San Diego earlier this season.

“We’re a massively different team,” Coe said. “That was the second game we’d ever played together. We’ve steadily grown throughout the season, getting to know each other and how we play.”

28 year old Coe, who is 6’ 2” and 205 lbs, was born in Markham, Ontario. He started playing rugby at age 10 because he was “too aggressive for soccer,” he said. His father, a rugby player himself, started dropping his son off for practice near where he played with his own team. Coe started out playing fly-half and as he progressed through school, moved out to full-back. He played at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he chose to study in part because of its reputation for top level rugby, and later played for the Canadian Olympic rugby sevens team, competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Andrew Coe on the attack against Anthem. Photo: RFCLA Media

Coe hadn’t considered playing professionally until MLR launched in 2018. “I never had the ambitions to go pro,” he said. “I just liked playing rugby.” Playing rugby sevens in Canada, he had worked other jobs on the side to help pay the bills. He didn’t have an agent, so he started by talking to MLR players on different teams, who introduced him to their general managers. He settled on Rugby United New York, where he played until last season, when the team withdrew from the league for financial reasons. A free agent, Coe was signed by RFCLA. “The opportunity to start with a new franchise excited me and there’s no other place to do it than LA,” he said.

RFCLA has become known for their open style of rugby, and Coe is proud of that. “Other teams say the way we are playing is exciting to watch,” he said. “It excites fans, the style of rugby is exciting… We’re starting to hone our brand of rugby and our identity.”

“It’s a matter of getting it right,” he said, noting that RFCLA’s win-loss record doesn’t reflect the team’s performance.

RFCLA are beginning to click, and back-to-back wins are a sign of the team’s progress. “We understand the momentum of the game,” Coe said. “We’re getting to know each other, getting closer as teammates, on and off the field.” RFCLA have shown how deep their bench is, and the less experienced reserves have proven they are capable of stepping up. “We’ve had guys come in and out, [and] we can read off each other,” said Coe.

RFCLA’s rivalry against the Legion — California’s only other MLR team — is now known as the Cali Cup, and the winner of this match will keep the trophy for a year. “Being at home, we’ll give the fans something to be excited about,” Coe said. “We’ll try to put on a good show on Sunday.”

RFCLA have made some changes to their starting XV this week: Alex Maughan starts at tighthead prop (No. 3) instead of Conor Young; Max Katjijeko replaces Matt Heaton at flanker (No. 7); Tas Smith starts at fly-half and Will Leonard replaces Seth Purdey at outside center (No. 13).

RFCLA’s starting lineup for May 23, 2024, against the San Diego Legion

1. Dane Zander (Prop)

2. Ben Strang (Hooker)

3. Alex Maughan (Prop)

4. Theo Vukasinovic (Lock)

5. Reegan O’Gorman (Lock)

6. Mike Amiras (Flanker)

7. Max Katjijeko (flanker)

8. Jason Damm (No.8/Vice Captain)

9. Niall Saunders (Captain)

10. Jordan Chait (Fly Half)

11. Jack Shaw (Wing)

12. James Stokes (Inside Center)

13. Will Leonard (Outside Center)

14. Brooklyn Hardaker (Wing)

15. Andrew Coe (Full-back)

Reserves

16. Bruce Kauika-Peterson (Hooker)

17. Sam Buckley (Prop)

18. Wilton Rebolo (Prop)

19. Liam Antrobus (Lock)

20. Semi Kunatani (Flanker)

21. Sam Walsh (Back)

22. Seth Purdey (Back)

23. Austin White (Back)

Sunday’s match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports One and streamed live outside of the US on The Rugby Network, at 3pm local time (PST).

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