Capital Selects vs. NOLA Gold
The New Orleans Gold will play their first pre-season match against the Capital Rugby Union Selects on Saturday, January 20 at 1 pm CST at Gretna City Park, 1130 Gretna Blvd., Gretna, LA. The match will be live-streamed by Gift-time Rugby Network Facebook page. Admission is free. Follow match updates on @USMLR Snapchat.
The New Orleans Gold Rugby Club opened their training camp on January 3rd and have had only a couple of weeks to prepare for the Captial Selects. Look for the reserves from both sides to have some significant time as the Selects travel to New Orleans and the Gold need to assess their final roster spots for the inaugural Major League Rugby season in April.
Players on NOLA Gold will have opportunities to impress the coaches, with some other players not on the 23 man match roster contending for a roster spot with NOLA Gold, instead of New Orleans RFC D2 team.
The Capital Rugby Union Selects have been establishing an impressive representative schedule the last two years. They have already played the USA Rugby South in November and will play the Houston SaberCats on Feb. 3rd at 7 pm CST away at Constellation Field.
NOLA Gold will field a strong side against the Capital Selects. They are missing Canadian International loosehead prop, Hubert Buydens, who has been training at the Canada training camp in England prior to returning to Vancouver for the Rugby World Cup Qualifier match January 27 against Uruguay.
The front row will have an experienced professional side of Eagle Ben Tarr at loosehead prop, Canada international Eric Howard at Hooker and former Sacramento Express hooker Cam Falcon at tighthead prop. Chile international Nikola Bursic, who also played professionally with the San Diego Breakers, will pair at lock with Mystic River and Northeast academy player John Sullivan. The back row consists of Vince Jobo, who played in the Currie Cup with the Free State Cheetahs, Matt Hughston, who played professionally with the Ohio Aviators, and Sebastian Kalm, who also was one of the leading try scorers for the Ohio Aviators.
In the backs, USA Selects & St. Mary’s graduate Holden Yungert at scrum-half will pair with fly-half Taylor Howden, formerly with the Ohio Aviators. The centers will feature Zach Stryffeler, formerly with the Aviators and Moni Tongauiha (Life West). The wings will include Jojo Tikoisuva, who played professionally with the Sacramento Express and Ratu Peceli Rinakama, a versatile back from Fiji, who played during the Fall with Metropolis Rugby Club. Eagle JP Eloff rounds out the starting XV at fullback.
Five of the eight reserves have been already been announced by NOLA Gold signing professional contracts. Derrek Van Klein is a loosehead prop from Metropolis. William Waguespack is a lock, who played with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Myles McQuone is also a lock who captained the D3 National Champion Fairfield Yankees. Michael Baska, a scrum-half/fullback, is a Collegiate All-American who played at Lindenwood University and Arkansas State. Bobby Johns played with New Orleans RFC for many years at center and is capable of shifting to other back positions, as well.
NOLA Gold has not announced the signing of three of the reserves. They and several others are in contention for the remaining MLR roster spots, with some ultimately playing with New Orleans D2 team. Matt Wirken is a lock, who played with the Kansas City Blues and with Lindenwood University. Joey Sok is a wing, who has played with the USA Falcons and Melvin Desouza is also a wing who played at Metropolis.
Six of the starting forwards for the Capital Selects played together in November against the USA Rugby South. The only changes are Tyler Barberi (Baltimore-Chesapeake) at Lock and Josh Brown (Rocky Gorge) at No. 8.
In the backs, only fullback Nick Kuhl from Rocky Gorge was not on the team that played against USA South.
The Capital Rugby Union Selects, are one of the leading active representative union sides in the United States. They will provide a good early pre-season test for NOLA Gold and perhaps a player may impress and result in a professional contract offer.
New Orleans Gold & Capital Selects Squads and Staff
NOLA Gold: 1 Ben Tarr 2 Eric Howard 3 Cam Falcon 4 Nikola Bursic 5 John Sullivan 6 Vince Jobo 7 Matt Hughston 8 Sebastian Kalm 9 Holden Yungert 10 Taylor Howden (C) 11 Jojo Tikoisuva 12 Zach Stryffeler 13 Tesimoni Tongauiha 14 Ratu Peceli Rinakama 15 JP Loff 16 Derek Van Klein 17 Matt Wirken 18 Joey Sok 19 William Waguespack 20 Myles McQuone 21 Michael Baska 22 Bobby Johns 23 Melvin Desouza
Capital Selects: 1 Jim Irey (Norfolk) 2 Adam Floyd (James River) 3 Evan Harkum (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 4 Tyler Barberi (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 5 Matt Holsopple (Norfolk) 6 Vili Siale (Pittsburgh) 7 Alex Diegel (Beltway Elite) 8 Josh Brown (Rocky Gorge) 9 Sean Hartig (Rocky Gorge) 10 Jake Humphrey (Norfolk) 11 CJ Burnes (NOVA) 12 Campbell Johnstone (Beltway Elite) 13 Brian Mulloy (NOVA) 14 Blake Carroll (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 15 Nick Kuhl (Rocky Gorge) 16 Eric Sweeney (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 17 Guy Lopresti (PAC Exiles) 18 Zack Jessell (Pittsburgh) 19 Mike Fletcher (Washington Irish) 20 Kevin Jackson (Rocky Gorge) 21 Zach Schell (Pittsburgh) 22 Calvin Storey (Raleigh) 23 Ted Sheedy (Pittsburgh)
Capital Selects Staff: Head Coach Chuck Moore (Rocky Gorge), Assistant Coaches Jeremy Frayne (Norfork) & Jon Grasso (Beltway Elite), Manager Roland Pratt (Beltway Elite), HP Director Steven Davis (Washington RFC)