The Chicago Hounds' Julian Dominguez (11) battles for the ball against Utah earlier this season. Dominguez scored two tries in a 24-22 victory over Dallas on March 18. Photo by Jeff Vorva

The Chicago Hounds' Julian Dominguez (11) battles for the ball against Utah earlier this season. Dominguez scored two tries in a 24-22 victory over Dallas on March 18. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro Sports Report | SeatGeek to host Major League Rugby championship; Hounds sniff out first win

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

SeatGeek Stadium, host of the expansion Chicago Hounds, will host this season’s Major League Rugby championship game.

The game is scheduled to be played July 8 in Bridgeview. It will air nationally on FOX.

“Moving the championship match to a predetermined venue has long been a goal of Major League Rugby,” MLR CEO Nic Benson stated in a news release. “As the league continues to show an exceptional pattern of growth, we believe this is the perfect time to plan an entire weekend of fun rugby and fan events around our showcase game.

“Chicago’s rich history of hosting large-scale rugby events combined with a great facility at SeatGeek Stadium makes for the perfect place to celebrate and honor our athletes and fans.”

There will be a schedule of activities leading up to the game.

“We are excited to showcase all that American rugby has to offer through it’s remarkable growth from top level men’s and women’s club games to youth rugby and everything in between,” Hounds majority owner Peter Bernick stated in the news release. “The weekend will feature Chicago’s food and music scene while building toward the Major League Rugby championship match on Saturday afternoon at SeatGeek. We expect a full house for what will be a fantastic weekend and can’t wait to bring this event to Chicago.”

In future seasons, MLR intends to allow venues both within and outside the league the opportunity to host the championship final.

 

Hounds sniff out victory
It was a night so cold that “bring your dog to the game night” was scratched. But the humans who braved temperatures that fell below 20 degrees cheered Chicago’s newest professional team to the first win in franchise history on March 18, beating Dallas 24-22.

It appeared the Hounds (1-3-0) were heading for another defeat, but flyhalf Chris Mattina converted a penalty kick in the 77th minute to put the team ahead and Chicago native Paddy Ryan forced a turnover in the closing seconds to secure the win.

MATTINA scaled

Chicago’s Chris Mattina, shown running with the ball earlier in the season against Utah, had the game-winning kick against Dallas on March 18. Photo by Jeff Vorva

The 77th minute seems to be magic for teams at the Bridgeview Stadium.

A week prior, Toronto’s Sammy Malcolm scored all 27 of his team’s points, including a drop goal in the 77th minute which turned out to be the winning score in a 27-26 victory over the Hounds.

This time, the 77th minute was gold for the Hounds. The the Jackals (0-5-0) lose their Major League Rugby-record 21st straight game.

The Jackals scored in the first minute of the game but could not maintain the momentum.

Chicago’s Mark O’Keefe scored a try in the 15th minute and Julian Dominguez scored tries in the 20th and 57th minutes.

 

Up next
After facing back-to-back winless teams in Toronto and Dallas, the competition for the Hounds gets ratcheted up at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, when they host Seattle (4-0-0).

Seattle is the last unbeaten team in the MLR and had last weekend off.

The Seawolves have beaten New York (25-11), Atlanta (28-22), Dallas (35-10) and previously unbeaten Houston (24-12) for the first 4-0 start in team history.

 

Fire II is back

The Chicago Fire II team returns to SeatGeek Stadium for the second year and has a schedule full of free games on tap in Bridgeview.

The first home game is at 6 p.m. Friday, March 31, against Toronto FC II.

The roster consists of first-team players who are signed to MLS NEXT Pro contracts, and members of the Chicago Fire Academy.

The season opener is Sunday, March 26 art Inter Miami CF II.

 

Kit n’ kerfuffle

The good news for Chicago Red Stars fans is that the team kits for the 2023 season are out, have received favorable reviews and should make their faithful followers happy.

The bad news is they are not ready to be sold to the public. According to the team, “unforeseen circumstances” have prevented the jersey from being sold at this time.

There is a presale on the jerseys for CRS Insiders that start Wednesday, March 22. But standard orders won’t be taken until July 1.

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Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound June 12, 2024

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