PHILADELPHIA, PA – Sacramento is the PRO team that, from afar, seems to be getting the best local press. They also have the biggest venue to fill, Bonney Field. With a capacity of 14K (recently up from 11K, apparently), it is more than twice as big as the next largest venue, Torero Stadium, in San Diego. Healthy crowds at Bonney should help everyone feel good about Year 1 of PRO Rugby.
Reasons for Optimism
The front row features two props who are already used to playing together: Val Lee-Lo and Olive Kilifi have moved down from Seattle Saracens. Almost certainly starting with them in the front row, Canadian hooker Ray Barkwill does a lot of work in the loose and looks to get involved as both a ball carrier and a distributor. Additionally, with John Quill and Kyle Sumsion, they should lead the league in turnovers and penalties won at the breakdown.
Mirco Bergamasco is the only “big name” in the back line for Sacramento, but he will provide plenty of leadership and help steer the attack. Scrum-half Jope Motokana was included in a USA Falcons tour to South America in January. He will keep defenses honest around the breakdown. Likely to play on the wing, Josh Holland is a strong finisher… and he can dance.
Reasons for Worry
While Bergamasco will lead, Sacramento will need reliable play from their halfbacks. As of yet, it isn’t clear who will be running the show from 10. Many of their players, more than the other PRO rosters, will be taking a big step up in this professional environment.
Sacramento will score some beautiful tries, but they won’t have the reliable attack necessary to top the league. Anything more than 6 wins is bonus.
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