Arrows launch creates new memory

Sport is one of those interests in life where specific moments become vibrant memories.
Events such as the Toronto Blue Jays winning a first World Series in 1992 in the 11th inning, Dave Ridgway’s field goal in the 1989 Grey Cup with nine seconds left for a 43-40 Saskatchewan win, the Saskatchewan Rush winning their first championship in the province in 2016, Paul Henderson’s heroic goal against Team Russia in 1972 being examples of such memorable moments.
But firsts can be rather memorable too.
The snow that welcomed the Toronto Blue Jays to the majors in their first home game in 1977, being in the stands for the Rush’s first game in Saskatoon, are a couple of memorable firsts for me.
And, Saturday another first happened that I shall probably remember forever.
The Toronto Arrows played their first regular season game in Major League Rugby, and I was eagerly tuned in to watch the game. For future reference the entire Arrows season, 16 games, will be broadcast in Canada in GameTV.
The MLR launched last year with seven teams and a shortened season, each team playing only eight games. I watched a bunch of games even without a Canadian-based team to cheer for because it was a chance to watch my favourite sport, 15s rugby, launching a new league with the promise of growth.
The growth this season has two new teams in the league, New York and more importantly a team in Canada in the Arrows.
It should be noted the league has already announced teams for New England, Atlanta and Washington in 2020, and there have been reports of interest in Vancouver to join at some point.
For a lover of 15s rugby all this is extremely positive news.
As for the Arrows, their extended roster shows four players from New Zealand, one from England and two from Uruguay, the rest of the squad being Canadian. The high concentration of Canadian talent is great for a couple of reasons, it makes being a fan here easier, and it gives a bunch of Canadian players a higher level of competition which should bode well for international teams from this country long term.
The game Saturday had the Arrows in New Orleans to play the Gold, a team which includes Saskatoon native Hubert Buydens, who I have had the pleasure to interview so watching him play was a nice bonus of the TO opener.
The Arrows sputtered through the first half, looking frankly a tad disorganized or over-whelmed and trailing 24-7.
The one play of note was the Arrows first regular season try from John Moonlight, a familiar name in Canadian 7s where he has played in 58 World Series tournaments for Canada scoring 100 tries. He has represented Canada at two Commonwealth Games and won two Pam-Am Games gold medals. He has represented Canada 23 times and was part of the Canada squad at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His joining the Arrows was a major coup for the team.
To the Arrows credit they fought back in a highly entertaining second half but ended up a bit short losing 36-31.
It was also interesting to note the announcers for the game talked of four teams joining MLR in 2020, Atlanta, New England and Washington, all announced by the league, and Dallas, a team much-rumoured, but yet to be confirmed by any official source I have seen. They also suggested Los Angeles and Chicago will follow, again both being rumoured but no more as of yet. That would potentially bring MLR to 15 teams, so Vancouver would be a nicely placed 16th team, (fingers –crossed).
Next up for the Arrows will be a visit to the Austin Elite team Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. EST.

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