Rugby action returns to Infinity Park this weekend with another full slate of games featuring both the men’s and women’s Glendale Merlin sides.
The Glendale Merlins Elite Men’s Team will face stiff competition this weekend, facing off with the visiting East Coast powerhouse Mystic River (3 p.m.) in a non-league match.
Like Glendale, Mystic River is a team loaded with quality. Most notable is the presence of 34-year-old Fullback Robbie Malneek, a legend with over 100 appearances for New Zealand provincial union Tasman Rugby Union.
“Mystic have some good physical players that want to play fast and to their system,” said Glendale Merlins head coach David Williams. “Josh Smith is a good coach and will always have some tricks up his sleeves.”
As the Glendale Raptors, Glendale beat Mystic River by a score of 22-16 back in May. Now reborn as the Merlins, Williams’ side will once again look to be the victors. Having come off a dominant 41-7 home win over the Ontario Arrows earlier this month, Glendale hopes to continue to build momentum.
“This is only our second game so we are continually working on our systems and processes and progressing as a team,” explained Williams. “We have to be more efficient in our play and utilizing all of our weapons and threats, and overall working hard for each other.”
Following the men’s match, the Glendale Merlins women will take to the pitch, closing out a rugby double header in the stadium at Infinity Park.
With a bye week from Women’s Premier League (WPL) play, the Merlins women will look to keep sharp as they host collegiate powerhouse Lindenwood University in a non-league friendly match (5 p.m.).
While the team has started strong with a 3-0 record in WPL to start the season, this weekend’s bout with Lindenwood offers the opportunity to stay fresh and test out some up and coming talent within the team.
“We are going to be able to rest some people and heal up some people,” explained Merlins captain Sarah Chobot. “It’s a huge opportunity though to get a good look at some players in some different roles. This weekend will be huge for player and team growth and building depth to the side.”
In facing Glendale, Lindenwood continues to build a program that has aspired to be one of collegiate rugby’s best in recent years. Lindenwood lost out narrowly, 28-25, in the USA Rugby Division I National Championships to 12-time champions Penn State this past May.
“They are a great team, and have a top-notch program, loaded with talent throughout the 23,” said Chobot. “I think both teams are looking for different thing out of this, but both wanting a big win. I’m excited to see them have a run against a young group of Merlins with something to prove. It should be a crackerjack of a game.”
The stadium gates open at 2 p.m. on Saturday and tickets are available online or at the gate.
Outside of the stadium match ups and on the Infinity Park Turf Field, we have the undefeated Glendale Merlins U20 Men taking on the University of Denver (1 p.m.) and the Merlins D1 Women facing Lindenwood’s second team (3 p.m.).
Featured Image Credit: Seth McConnell, Glendale Merlins