Old Glory to Take on New York in Team-First Playoff

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Jun 24, 2023 - 11:00pm

In their fourth season since joining the MLR, Old Glory DC is finally playoff bound. A seven win regular season, another first for the team, has them finishing third in the eastern conference. Tomorrow, they will take the field opposite the New York Ironworkers in an attempt to advance to the conference finals.

Despite the match taking place in New York, Old Glory will enjoy a strong showing of travelling supporters. Two bus loads of fans will be travelling with the team, with more expected to make their own way up.

New York, of course, is a little more used to playoff rugby. They have made the post-season ever year since joining the league in 2019, with the exception of the cancelled 2020 season. Their first two playoffs ended in early defeats, but last year they made it all the way and lifted the shield.

Despite that pedigree, Old Glory is unlikely to feel intimidated heading into the eliminator match. While New York were the winners of the early season matchup between these two teams, it was Old Glory that took the cake in the most recent match. They also played the Ironworkers in the preseason, making this a team OGDC is very familiar with.

New York does present a particular sort of challenge for Old Glory. They have a stable of physical speedsters in the back line, with the oft-touted Ed Fidow alongside Sam Windsor and Brooklyn Hardaker. They love getting the ball wide and smashing their way down the sideline. Old Glory will need to be careful covering the wings and limiting their impact.

The key to doing that will actually be in the forwards, interestingly. When Old Glory has played well against New York, it's been because they've denied any easy meters to the forwards. When OGDC has made their tackles and brought players to ground at the gainline, it's denied New York the forward momentum that usually opens up space on the edge.

Old Glory will also need to avoid making unforced errors. Their most recent match against Atlanta was full of simple mistakes that dramatically undermined their best efforts: balls dropped, kicks sent straight out of bounds, that sort of thing. There isn't space for that in playoff rugby.

On attack, they don't need to change anything significant. Hard running from the forwards, good support lines, and exploiting space with the backs should get them where they need to go. The key, though, will be not killing their momentum with bad kicks. Old Glory does a poor job of box kicking, and an even worse job chasing kicks. While there will be moments to put kicks in the air, if they kick as much as they have done in recent weeks it could ruin otherwise good scoring opportunities.

  1. Lineup

Fortunately, Old Glory is coming into this with a lineup that is close to the ideal. Jack Iscaro, Nic Souchon, and Kyle Stewart take their usual spots starting in the front row. Facundo Gattas is back as the reserve hooker, with Cali Martinez and Quentin Newcomer the backup props.

In the second row, Tevita Naqali and Kyle Baillie take the starting roles, with Collin Grosse the likely cover on the bench. Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz returns at flanker alongside Lautaro Bavaro, with Nico Jones holding on to the eight jersey. Langilangi Haupeakui and Alejo Daireaux come off the bench.

In the backs, Tusitala and Bowd are the halfbacks, with neither having any cover on the bench. Doug Fraser and Willie Talataina hold down the center with Thretton Palamo a reserve. Marcos Young is back on the wing, joining Junior Sa'u, while Kurt Baker makes a surprise return at fullback. John Rizzo is the backup back three player. Peni Lasaqa is left out despite recent success.