The Dallas Jackals released the schedule for the 2023 Major League Rugby season as the team looks to rebuild after a disastrous first season that saw the League’s newest expansion team go 0-16. With an entirely new cast of characters in the front office and along the sidelines, the Jackals are poised for a fresh start that will begin against a budding in-state rival.
The Jackals open the season with a fixture at Choctaw Stadium to face off against the Houston SaberCats. The SaberCats led the Western Conference in 2022 with a 9-7 record and 48 competition points, just two points ahead of the Seattle Seawolves. Houston was eliminated by the Seawolves in the Western Conference Finals.
In the offseason, the Jackals brought in Santiago Sodini as general manager and hired Agustin Cavalieri as the head coach, replacing Elaine Vassie and Michael Hodge in their respective positions. Sodini and Cavalieri spoke with The Dallas Express about the upcoming season and the fixtures they see as particularly interesting.
“New staff, new team, a lot of people we are trying to get ready for the new season,” Sodini said of the Jackals’ situation. “To get the first game at home is going to be great for us.”
After the home opener on February 19, Dallas disembarks on a trip to Utah before returning to Arlington to face the Seawolves. Then, the Jackals will head on the road for the next three games, a trip that Cavalieri said he is already preparing for due to the logistics of traveling with a large team.
“It is going to be hard for us, and it is a critical moment of the season,” Sodini said.
The Jackals will not have a bye until after Week 13. Seven of the 13 games in the opening stretch will be road games, including trips to San Diego, Chicago, New England, and Toronto. The Jackals will face Houston, Utah, San Diego, and Seattle twice each in the first 13 games. The team will play on the road in Atlanta in Week 13.
“Thirteen weeks of hard work, so it is going to be good for us to get some rest, physical and mental rest, during that week,” Sodini said.
Immediately following the bye week, the Jackals will face what may be the greatest test of the season as they hit the pitch against Rugby New York, the 2022 MLR Champions. Rugby NY defeated the Seawolves in the championship game with a score of 30-15.
“We are looking forward to playing against the champions,” Cavalieri said. “They are the tough team, the tough ones, so we are looking forward to playing against New York, especially because we are going to play in New York. So, it is the biggest challenge: to play against the champions at their home.”
Both Sodini and Cavalieri said that one of the greatest strengths the team has going into the second season is the growing fan base that was loyal even through the doldrums of a difficult first year.
“I think that is a strength we will have every game,” Cavalieri said. “We must work hard to show [the fans] that we want to win, we want to be a winning team, and that we need them to come to the field even more than last season.
As for last year, Sodini said that was another story, and in 2023, the Jackals intend to begin a new one.