Rugby ATL Comes to DC for Regular Season Finale

By Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Jun 17, 2023 - 12:05pm

Later today, Old Glory will host Rugby ATL to close out the 2023 regular season. While OGDC's playoff spot is secure, they could still earn the right to host the Eastern Conference eliminator game with a win and favorable result from the Utah vs New York match. A win here would also set a new franchise record for most wins in a season, beating out the 2021 season's 6 wins.

However, the real motivation for this match is just to beat an opponent that beat us convincingly earlier in the year. Last time these two teams met, OGDC required a huge second half surge to make the scoreline respectable. The team is going to want to set the record straight tonight.

There's also the fact that Old Glory's playoff opponent, Rugby New York, handed this same team a three-score loss just last week. It will be as close to a direct measurement of where the two teams stand as possible, and OGDC isn't going to want to be found coming up short heading into the playoffs.

After sacrificing last week's match to the dual causes of resting their starters and giving their bench players a shot at proving themselves, this week the goal will be to get the first team firing on all cylinders before the playoffs. A dominant win here could prove to be valuable momentum and a confidence boost for next week.

Atlanta present perhaps the perfect opponent for such an outing. Since getting a win over Chicago and a tie against Toronto, ATL has been on a losing streak of four straight, with each of them coming by at least a couple of scores. The Rattlers have struggled on both ends, conceding over thirty points a match on average while scoring under twenty on average themselves.

That said, they have a variety of good players who will provide a solid test for Old Glory. Mid-season signing Sydney Tobias has been a spark plug at hooker, consistently able to break the gainline and get his team on the front foot. In the back line, Te Rangatira Waitokia is always a dangerous playmaker, and Jack Shaw on the wing has been similarly impressive.

Defensively, Atlanta likes to play an aggressive sort of rush defence. It will put Old Glory under pressure, Gradyn Bowd in particular, and should be a good warm up for New York next week.

Overall, this should absolutely be an Old Glory win at home. They have a clear motivation to win and talent to do so.


Things are mostly back to normal after a crazy lineup last week. Jack Iscaro, Nic Souchon, and Kyle Stewart start at front row, with Quentin Newcomer and Cali Martinez the backup props. However, Facundo Gattas is still curiously missing, with KoiKoi Nelligan on the bench at hooker instead. This is particularly interesting as Nelligan will not be eligible for the playoffs having not been capped four times in the regular season. If Gattas is injured, it could put Old Glory in a very tricky spot.

The second row is also back to normal, with Tevita Naqali and Kyle Baillie starting. The back row has some changes, though: Langilangi Haupeakui and Lautaro Bavaro start at flanker with Niko Jones at eight. Team captain Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz is surprisingly left on the bench, joining Collin Grosse.

Danny Tusitala and Gradyn Bowd return as the 9-10 combo, with Doug Fraser earning a starting spot at inside center and Willie Talataina returning at outside center. Junior Sa'u and John Rizzo start on the wings, and Peni Lasaqa dropping back to fullback in an unusual move. John Lefevre and Thretton Palamo are on the bench, along with Alejo Daireaux, who is surprisingly listed in the 23 jersey despite usually playing at flanker.

Tito Diaz Bonilla and Marcos Young are both absent, raising concerns that the knocks they took last week are more serious than initially assumed. If they are injured long term, it could be a serious blow to Old Glory's odds in the playoffs.