Toronto Arrows, Rugby ATL put friendship aside for the day as they meet again

Sharing training facilities in Marietta, Ga., it’s not unusual for players from Rugby ATL and the Toronto Arrows to cross each others’ path.

And as co-captain of Rugby ATL, Canadian flanker Matt Heaton is happy to share local dining recommendations and other tips with the visiting Canadian side. But it will be all business Saturday when the two teams face off in Major League Rugby play.

It’s the second meeting between the two in 2021. Rugby ATL, whose roster also includes Canadian lock forward Conor Keys, downed the Arrows 21-14 in the season opener March 20.

That was officially listed as a Rugby ATL home contest. On Saturday, ATL will deemed the visitors at Lupo Family Field at Life University.

” I know the boys love playing against Atlanta and the Canadian boys especially — against Heaton and Keys,” said Arrows co-captain Lucas Rumball. “It’s something we always look forward to.”

The two teams are close, with the Arrows grateful for ATL’s hospitality.

“Anything we’ve ever needed or asked for, they’ve delivered. It’s been absolutely fantastic,” said Chris Silverthorn, Toronto’s director of rugby. “There wouldn’t be a Toronto Arrows this year, I don’t think, without Rugby ATL and the partnership that we’ve created here.”

There is a trophy on the line Saturday with Toronto (3-4-0) and Atlanta (3-3-0) announcing this week the creation of the Fire and Ice Cup. The two clubs will contest the cup each season.

“We’re trying to build sport rivalries,” said Heaton, a native of Godmanchester, Que., who has roomed with Rumball in the past on international duty. “We’ve got two great franchises. We’re happy to host them. We’re teammates, we’re all friends so there’s that good little competitive rivalry in it.

“At the end of it, we’re all going to have a beer and laugh about it.”

The Arrows could use a chuckle. They’ve been away from home since mid-March.

“I would say it’s taken a toll, absolutely,” Silverthorn said of having to set up shop in the U.S. due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. “I think we’ve had a rough couple of weeks as a team. There’s been a lot of personal stuff going on. But you know what, the guys have rallied around each other, really regrouping.

“Living in a hotel isn’t easy, as anyone will tell you. We’ve had our moments. But on the whole, we’re together. There have been some positives too.”

Rumball says the separation from loved ones and friends is challenging,

“But the boys will bind together,” said the influential flanker. “They’ll find ways to make it easier on each other, whether it’s going to grab a coffee, going to see a sight, doing something to take your mind off being away from familiar faces.

“But having people like Heats and guys we know here is great as well. Having everyone be so welcoming makes that home kind of environment away from home. So it’s not easy, but the boys know that everyone here is pulling for them, everyone back home is pulling for them. So it makes it just slightly easier for us.”

Both teams are coming off losses to NOLA Gold in the tight Eastern Conference, which sees the top five teams separated by just three points.

Atlanta, on a bye last week, went into last weekend first in the East and came out in fifth spot. Toronto has the same number of points as ATL but stands third on points difference.

ATL coach Scott Lawrence sees plenty of similarities between the two teams going into Saturday’s contest.

“It will be who executes more consistently,” he said.

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

A Comox Valley 55+ baseball team isa being organized for the 2021 season. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
18U AAA Carstar Braves start season strong

The Red Deer Carstar 18U AAA Carstar Braves started the Baseball Alberta… Continue reading

(Contributed image).
Online poetry reading to benefit Red Deer women experiencing period poverty

The Period Promise Poetry Powerhouse is a central Alberta collective of some… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron, right, celebrates after scoring on Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Montreal hangs on for 3-2 win to even series with Golden Knights at a game each

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (Series tied 1-1) LAS VEGAS — Montreal… Continue reading

New York Yankees Gary Sanchez celebrates his two-run home run during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Cole, Sánchez, Chapman come through as Yanks edge Blue Jays

Yankees 3 Blue Jays 2 BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gerrit Cole pitched eight… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, right, is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Hawks rally from 26 points down, stun 76ers in Game 5

Hawks 109 76ers 106 (Atlanta leads series 3-2) PHILADELPHIA — Trae Young… Continue reading

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

OTTAWA — Annamie Paul is firing back against the coterie of party… Continue reading

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan leaves the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Bill to implement UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples clears Senate

OTTAWA — A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) flips a shot on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Russian goalies highlight Lightning-Islanders series

NEW YORK — Semyon Varlamov is the wily veteran, coming off a… Continue reading

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime reacts during his ATP Tour Singles, Men, Round of 16 tennis match against Switzerland's Roger Federer in Halle, Germany, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Friso Gentsch-dpa via AP
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Roger Federer in second round of Noventi Open

HALLE, Germany — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime earned one of the biggest victories… Continue reading

A course official keeps out of the sun on the seventh green during a practice round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
A different US Open than imagined at Torrey Pines

The spectacular ocean vistas will fill TV screens as usual, along with… Continue reading

Most Read