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Two New Major League Rugby Head Coaches

The Warriors and Jackals have added a new head coaches to their teams


Two Major League Rugby franchises have already signed new head coaches for the upcoming season. Both coaches bring a wealth of rugby knowledge and experience to the league that will enhance their club's performance.


Utah Warriors Hire Greg Cooper

Source: Warriors Rugby


On July 20, the Utah Warriors announced their hiring of Garrett Cooper as the team's new head coach. Cooper is the fourth head coach in franchise history.


"It is an honor and a privilege to represent you as the Head Coach of the Utah Warriors," Cooper said in letter to Warriors' Nation. "There is a strong history of rugby in Utah and while the Warriors history is young, the courage and the commitment already demonstrated provides me with the belief that the Utah Warriors will be a major force in North American rugby in the future.


"While the wheels are in motion, there is a lot of work to be done. Our preparation must be accurate in all aspects, as we continue to build the framework to achieve success. There will be times when things do not go according to plan, but if the planning is strong, we will react, adjust and move forward.


"For the Utah Warriors to be successful, it will require a united effort. As a team performing on the field, we acknowledge and are grateful for having the best fans in the MLR. We are ONE TEAM! Our strength will be in our unity.


"Thank you all for your loyal and passionate support. I look forward to the hard work, the challenges and the successful times ahead."


Cooper becomes the most experienced Head Coach in Major League Rugby. He joins the Utah Warriors from the Mitsubishi DynaBoars in Japan, who he helped elevate to Japan Rugby League One for the first time in 12 years. Prior to coaching in Japan, Cooper helped lead Stade Francais to a European Challenge Cup Championship – the first European trophy in Stade Francais history – as an assistant coach before being promoted to Head Coach in 2017. Additionally, Cooper has served as Head Coach to the New Zealand U21 team and Head Coach for the Highlanders of Super Rugby and Otago Rugby Union. (Utah Warriors Press Release)


Cooper is coming to a squad that is having an identity crisis. After a season where they finished second in the Western Conference and were 10 minutes away from making the MLR Championship final, the Warriors went 5-11 in 2022. Head coach Shawn Pittman was fired halfway through the season, and the team struggled to win in close matches.


Cooper will be looking to right the ship with the great rugby talent pool Utah has including University of Tennessee alumni and recent draft pick, Greg Janowick.


Dallas Jackals Hire Agustin Cavalieri

Source: Dallas Jackals


In late August, the Dallas Jackals, announced the signing of their new head coach, Agustin Cavalieri. According to the Jackals' press release on the new hire. "Cavalieri brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience from Argentina and Italy and his experiences across many levels of the game in Italy combined with a desire to develop players garners Cavalieri well–equipped to lead the Jackals in the upcoming 2023 MLR season.


"Cavalieri joins the Jackals with experience as the U20 Italian National team Forwards’ Coach. Earlier this year, the side competed in the U20 Six Nations displaying their best efforts historically earning wins against three top tier nations (England, Scotland, and Wales), a feat never done before by another nation. Cavalieri also lead the side to a successful 2022 Summer Series finishing third. Prior, Cavalieri served on the U18 National team coaching staff from 2017-2020."


Cavalieri is coming to the latest expansion franchise in the league with the Jackals only having one season of experience. Last year, the team went 0-16 coming up short in a few close matches. However, with a young core and newly drafted #1 pick, Sam Golla, the squad has something to build off of for the new season.


“I’m incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity with the Dallas Jackals,” said Cavalieri in the press release. “The challenge ahead is an exciting one and I cannot wait to start working with everyone involved. I would like to thank the Italian Rugby Federation for their years of commitment to me. It was an honor to work closely with the players, coaches, and fans.”


Who Will Do Better?

Cooper and Cavalieri are exciting new additions to the MLR landscape. With their experience overseas and desire to build better American players, the coaches will do a great job expanding rugby in their markets.


Both coaches are looking to make an impact with their new squad. Cooper looks to bring Utah back to its former glory by making the playoffs and winning the franchise's first ever playoff match. Cavalieri looks to teach the young squad critical skills that will help them get the franchise's first win and stay competitive in a tough Western Conference.


We look forward to seeing how these coaches do in the upcoming 2023 MLR season.


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