Old Glory Seeks Revenge Against NOLA – Week 1 Preview

Old Glory DC is starting of the 2021 season the same way they started out the 2020 season: with a visit to the Gold Mine in New Orleans. Last year, this match delivered a rude introduction into the league, with OGDC getting blown out 13-46. This year, Old Glory is aiming for a different ending, and for revenge.

Details

  • When: March 21, 2021
  • Time: 4:00 ET
  • Where: The Gold Mine (map)
  • Channel: FS2, The Rugby Network (overseas only)
  • Weather forecast: 69°F and sunny
  • Line: NOLA by 3 (from Tackle the Numbers)

Preview

How good is NOLA Gold

This is going to be a tough match for Old Glory, for a number of reasons. First of all, NOLA is a very good team. They were showing clear playoff potential last year before the season ended and are generally considered the second best team in the Eastern Conference.

They have struggled with inconsistency in past seasons, which has held them back in the league standings overall. However, more recently they’ve had a fair amount of continuity, with all but one of their players returning from last year. Star players like Cam Dolan at 8, Dino Waldren at prop, and JP Eloff at fullback are all returning. On top of that, NOLA has pulled in a raft of new players, including JP du Plessis and Devin Short from the San Diego Legion.

Continuity can be a double-edged sword, but when you’re a team that has been playing at a high level like NOLA it’s almost always a good thing. They have a great defense, which never gave up more than 25 points in a match last season. They even held the best attacking team last year, the San Diego Legion, in check (although they did end up losing that match).

However, it’s not as if NOLA is without weaknesses. They were decent on attack, but they also capable of being shut down. The best example of that was against Rugby ATL, when they were held to a mere 10 points. A determined defense can slow them down, so that will have to be Old Glory’s path to victory.

Where Old Glory stands at the start of the season

After their disastrous first match, Old Glory improved dramatically, climbing to third in the league standings after four-straight victories. This was driven by a bend-don’t-break defense and an increasingly confident attack.

Old Glory is bringing almost all of their most successful players back, with star players like flanker Mungo Mason, flyhalf Jason Robertson, and scrumhalf Danny Tusitala returning. They’ve also brought in a number of new, experienced players, particularly on the front row. These include former Glasgow Warriors captain Callum Gibbins and experienced props Steven Longwell and Jamie Dever.

If you want to know more about how the roster is shaping up, check out our full analysis of the 2021 roster.

The biggest weakness last season was the scrum. Old Glory had the worst scrummaging statistics of any team ever in the MLR, and it wasn’t even close. It was bad to the point that Old Glory fans would cheer if the scrum just managed to stay stable long enough to get the ball out.

The bad scrum was the major culprit in the blowout loss to NOLA last year. While there were a number of things that needed improvement from that match, it was the inability to maintain possessions in scrums that allowed the Gold to run away with it. Not only did it cause tactical problems, it also crushed the morale of the brand-new team.

There are a lot of reasons to think that scrums won’t be as much of a problem this season. First of all, Old Glory is bringing a number of experienced players into scrum, especially the front row. It remains to be seen how good they are in the MLR context, but they should at minimum bring the scrum up from catastrophic to mediocre. Furthermore, the coaches and players have been working all offseason to improve. The scrum was neglected as an area of practice going into 2020. This year, it’s the number one focus.

Finally, Old Glory found ways around their bad scrum last year. Despite the lack of a stable attacking platform, they score plenty of points. That experience should help them, as even a modest improvement in the scrum will improve their chances dramatically.

Wrapping it up

This will be an interesting test for both teams. NOLA is going to want to prove early that they are a contender for the shield and capitalize on their recent momentum. They have a lot of continuity, so there will be no excuses for a poor performance.

For Old Glory, this is about revenge. Listening to what’s been coming from the coaches and players, everyone in very motivated to make a point here that last year’s match was a fluke. That sort of determination, that fire, could be the difference maker that gives Old Glory a fifth-straight win. Expect DC to come out swinging, with hard-hitting defense and lots of energy.

The biggest question for Old Glory, aside from the scrum, is how rusty they will be out of the gate. Despite starting with three on the schedule, DC did not get to play a single preseason match. That could hurt them right at the beginning of the season, as they haven’t had a chance to come together as a team.

NOLA is favored to win this match, but it’s unlikely to be a blowout, and Old Glory definitely has a chance to come away with a win.

Team lineups

Old Glory DC

  1. Jamie Dever
  2. Mikey Sosnene-Feagai
  3. Steven Longwell
  4. Tevita Naqali
  5. Api Naikatini
  6. Callum Gibbins
  7. Mungo Mason
  8. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz
  9. Danny Tusitala
  10. Jason Robertson
  11. Renata Roberts-Te Nana
  12. Ciaran Hearn
  13. Doug Fraser
  14. Sam Cusano
  15. Mike Dabulas

Reserves:

  1. James King
  2. Jack Iscaro
  3. Jack Carroll
  4. Casey Renaud
  5. Luke CAmpbell
  6. Sean Hartig
  7. D’Montae Noble
  8. Josh Brown

NOLA Gold

  1. Matt Harmon
  2. Eric Howard
  3. Dino Waldren
  4. Kyle Baillie
  5. William Stewart
  6. Devin Short
  7. Andrew Guerra
  8. Cam Dolan
  9. Holden Yungert
  10. Robbie Coleman
  11. Julian Dominguez
  12. JP Du Plessis
  13. Juan Cappiello
  14. Joeli Tikosuva
  15. Carl Meyer

Reserves:

  1. Pat O’Toole
  2. Kevin Sullivan
  3. JAmes Irey
  4. Ignacio Dotti
  5. Tesimoni Tongauiha
  6. Damian Stevens
  7. Ross Depperschmidt
  8. Timothee Guillimin