Imagine the speed and non-stop strategy of major league soccer fused with the strength and power of National Football League (but without helmet or protective padding), and you have the makings of what would be a very exciting and engaging pastime for American fans and viewers.

Interestingly, what you would have would be major league rugbythe five-year professional sports league rooted in the Rocky Mountain region by the Utah Warriors.

This Saturday, the Warriors will participate at noon in their home opener at Bank of Zions Stadium in Herriman.

For info: Tickets for Warriors home games range from $14 to $44 and can be purchased here.


Launch of professional rugby in the United States

At the top of the Warriors the organization is Kimball Kjar (pronounced “care“), the CEO and Managing Director, and a former rough guy himself.

In fact, not only was he a three-time All-American for the rugby union team Brigham Young University (2001–2003) and 2002 collegiate All-American team captain, Kjar also played for United States Rugby for over six years (2001-2007) as a scrum half (or halfback).

In addition to having spent five years as an assistant coach for BYU Rugby after his playing days are over, Kjar went on to a successful professional career in executive search and talent placement (in the high tech world).

Then came the opportunity to help bring professional rugby to both Utah and America. {FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Kjar is also a member of the board of directors of major league rugbyposition he has held since its official creation in 2017.}

The challenge with rugby for most Utahns, Kjar told me earlier this week is that they have “…” I haven’t touched it, I haven’t felt it, I haven’t experienced it yet.

But, he added, when they do, “They are addicted.”

the Warriors were an inaugural team in MLR when formed five years ago, and last year the team advanced to the conference semifinals with a 10–6 record.

Picture of the Utah Warriors vs. San Diego Legion match June 12, 2021. Photo by David Wilsonwith permission to use via Hunter Miller from the Utah Warriors.

the Warriors The team is made up of 35 full-time players, and this season the league has grown to 13 teams (one in Canada and the others in the United States) who will each play 16 regular season games coupled with two byes.

The regular season is followed by three levels of playoffs, crowned by the MLR Championship game at the end of June.


My tentative journey to being a rugby fan

Personally, I love American football – the NFLcollege football, the high school game, even Pop Warner (aka, little league football).

When it’s played well, it’s an incredible sport.

Soccer? I understand, at least I understand the rules.

I also watched quite a bit of football “Games,” both on the sidelines of high school games and on the TV while following American teams in World Cup or Olympic level competitions.

Nationally…love watching the United States Women’s National Team the best, and not because they are women.

It’s just that they are SO much better than the men’s national team.

And female players tend to spend less time writhing on the ground in supposed pain after being bumped or tripped on the pitch. {I can’t stand this, by the way.}

To be clear, I’ve never seen a rugby match in person, although I’ve watched clips of matches on cable, as well as the two most popular American rugby movies (Invictus and always strong). {I liked them both, BTW.}

So… when I explained all this to Kjarhe suggested that my experience was not that different from that of most people in Utah, even though Utah has a high percentage of transplants from South Pacific nations where rugby is played and followed religiously, in especially New Zealand, home of the famous All Blacks.

After the majority of people watch a rugby match for the first time, Kjar explained that the most common reaction is something like

“I didn’t know what was going on, but I loved it.”

Apparently, rugby matches are made up of two 40-minute halves, with a 12-minute half for MLR competition.

Bottom line, you got in and out in two hours of a Warriors meet, Kjar noted.

And with that, Kjar got me “hooked” (figuratively).

I guess I will attend at least one Warriors home game this season.

And you?

Utah Warriors 2021 Season Highlights Video uploaded to Youtube March 03, 2022.

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David Politis

A sports fanatic known to his friends as “Poppa P”, David is passionate about making the world a better place by helping to find and share the amazing stories of the Silicon Slopes business community.