TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows will open the 2022 Major League Rugby season Feb. 6 at the Seattle Seawolves before hosting the defending champion Los Angeles Giltinis the next week in Langford, B.C.
The Arrows, who played the entire 2021 season out of Marietta, Ga., due to pandemic-related restrictions, will then play five straight on the road before their April 2 Toronto home opener at York Lions Stadium against Rugby ATL.
The Feb. 11 game against the Giltinis at Starlight Stadium in Langford is considered a home match, shifted to the West Coast because of the Toronto winter.
“The Arrows are very excited to participate in the first professional rugby game ever played in British Columbia,” Arrows COO and GM Mark Winokur said in a statement. “British Columbia has a long and storied tradition of rugby across the province, and we know our match with Los Angeles will have an incredible atmosphere in a stadium of passionate fans."
The fifth season of the North American pro rugby league will kick off Feb. 5 with 13 teams thanks to the addition of the Dallas Jackals.
The regular season will last 18 rounds with each team having two byes. As in the past, the Arrows will spend almost all of the first half of the season on the road due to the Ontario winter
After the game in B.C., Toronto will play at NOLA Gold, Old Glory DC, New England Free Jacks, Utah Warriors and Rugby United New York before returning home to host Rugby ATL on April 2 in Round 9. The Arrows will play seven of their eight home games in the second half of the season, wrapping up the regular season June 5 against Old Glory DC.
The Arrows' last league match in Toronto was June 2, 2019, when Sam Malcolm's 77th-minute drop goal gave the team a 22-20 win over Rugby United New York at Lamport Stadium, sealing a playoff berth in the club's inaugural season.
Toronto has played 22 straight games on the road since, winning nine and losing 13.
The 2020 season was cut short after five games, all on the road for the Arrows. The team spent 4 1/2 months in a suburban Atlanta hotel this season when perhaps not surprisingly, it finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 5-11-0.
Their time in the U.S. apart, the Arrows have played just one game outside of Toronto — in October 2018 when playing as the Ontario Arrows they defeated the New England Free Jacks 40-14 in an exhibition game at Wanderers Grounds in Halifax.
The Arrows did host an exhibition game last month against the Atlantic Selects at York Lions Stadium, ending an 867-day absence from Toronto.
Dallas will join the Austin Gilgronis, Houston SaberCats, Los Angeles Giltinis, Seattle Seawolves, San Diego Legion and Utah Warriors in the Western Conference. Toronto is joined in the East by Old Glory DC, New England Free Jacks, NOLA Gold, Rugby ATL and Rugby United New York.
The regular season will conclude June 5. While the No. 1 seeds in both conferences will get first-round byes, with the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in each conference facing off June 11 and 12. The winners will meet the top seeds June 18 and 19 in the conference finals with the championship game set for the weekend of June 25-26.
Dallas will visit the Austin Gilgronis on Opening Day in a Texas showdown.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press