Photo credit: Davey Wilson
Lehi, UT — The Men’s Premier Division(MPD) is off to a great start with 6 men’s team from both Utah and Salt Lake Counties looking to etch their name into the “Iosepa Shield” at the end of the 2018 Fall season.
The MPD was implemented as a means to give local rugby talent the opportunity to compete at an elite level and provided a pathway to the Utah Warriors. This continues to be the driver behind the competition giving untapped talent within the state of Utah the chance to make themselves known to the sport of rugby. This season will see the return of four veteran teams, current champions Salt Lake Spartans, finalists Utah Misfits Brothers(formerly Utah Brothers), West Valley Lions and Salt Lake City Gladiators. New comers to the competition will see the likes of Mana Rugby and Utah’s newest men’s rugby club, Antelope Island Rugby.
“It’s great to see new teams take up the chance to be part of this competition to help continue to grow the game in the state of Utah” said newly-appointed Director of the Men’s Premier Division Efiafi Fekitoa. “And with a team like the Utah Warriors in town, it gives these clubs and their players something to aspire to” Fekitoa added.
This season kicked off Saturday August 18th at the NUI field in Lehi Utah(3197 Ashton Blvd, Lehi UT 84043). Game 1 of the competition saw Mana Rugby take on the Spartans in a tightly contested match that saw the Spartans walk off the field after 80 minutes with the 29-26 victory. The match also saw the return Spartan mid-fielder and Utah Warrior Maika Hafoka who was also named “Man of the Match”. “I’m glad to be back on the field playing again this season and I’m also looking forward to defending our championship status in the MPD” said Hafoka.
Game 2 gave Antelope Island Rugby the opportunity introduce themselves to the MPD as they went up against veterans, the Salt Lake City Gladiators. The Gladiators proved to be a force to reckon with as they crossed the try line 7 times resulting in 59 to 14 victory and their player Jason Tauialo named as “Man of the Match”. “We’ve started on a high note and want to continue to build on the big win and see the rest of the season through” said Gladiators coach Moresby Tauiautusa.
Last game of week one saw two power houses Misfit’s Brothers and West Valley Lions go head to head. The game ended in a two point difference match 29-27 that saw the Misfit’s Brothers walk off the field with the win and ‘Ofa Teisina named “Man of the Match”. Talking with Misfit’s Brothers coach Siaosi Makoni on their win he said, “It’s a start that we can build on, but most of all it’s awesome to see teams coming together to start this season“. West Valley Lions coach Hameti Lomu shared the same sentiment with Makoni saying “The level of rugby/play in the state of Utah has definitely gone up thanks to the MPD and the Utah Warriors. The MPD season and the Utah Warriors has helped local players propel their level of play to a higher standard.”
The MPD is also fortunate to be associated with a skilled and knowledgeable group of referees who help maintain a standard of play throughout the season. With the help and expertise of the referee’s association in Utah, these clubs and their players are able to play a level of rugby that gets them to the level of play that is played at the next level of rugby.
The Fall 2018 season will continue this week with games going from 1pm-5:40pm every Saturday for the remainder of the month of August going into September. A full schedule and results can be found on either the Men’s Premier Division Facebook page or on our website.