On Saturday, February 16, there will be a battle of MLR unbeaten teams at 2 pm CST (3 pm EST) Gold Stadium in Marrero, LA. NOLA Gold Rugby Club is 3-0 with wins over the Toronto Arrows, Glendale Raptors and the Seattle Seawolves. Rugby United New York is 1-0 with a road win over the San Diego Legion. RUNY travels again after two bye weeks to face the ‘Cajun Hot’ NOLA Gold.
Tickets are still available for an MLR #1 vs #2 match based on USA Rugby Power Rankings. For those who can’t attend, the match will be broadcast on ESPN+, SNY, and internationally on the Major League Rugby Facebook page.
New Orleans is known as a party town and NOLA Gold has partnered with Boomtown Hotel & Casino New Orleans. Boomers Nightclub at Boomtown New Orleans will play host to the post-game parties after every home game. Fans 21 & up are encouraged and welcome to join us as both teams head there to celebrate, mingle, and sign autographs.
Boomers even created a signature cocktail called the Louisiana Swamp Scrum. Drink specials run from 6 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. and guests are welcome to stay as late they’d like. At 9, the Nashville South go on stage to carry us through the night.
Rugby United New York will have their own Watch Party at the Pig n Whistle.
Both teams benefit from the Americas Rugby Championship having a bye week. Players went back to their home clubs, while others needed time to recover between the international matches that resume next week. Both Cam Dolan and John Quill will not factor in their team’s squad as they rest for the USA match against Brazil next week.
NOLA Gold Head Coach Nate Osborne has made four changes in his starting XV. Both Eric Howard and Kyle Baillie return from the Canadian National Team and will play hooker and flanker, respectively. Howard will also assume captain duties along with last week’s Man of the Match, JP Eloff. Tony Lamborn will make his debut with the team at No. 8. Scott Gale also returns to the squad after a week off for a minor injury.
In the reserves, Shawn Riley could also make his NOLA Gold debut this week.
Rugby United New York Head Coach Mike Tolkin has made one change to his starters with Matt Hughston at flanker as John Quill takes a rest between ARC internationals. Matt Wirken and Mark O’Keeffe also may make their debut with the team from the reserves. Both Matt Hughston and Matt Wirken are familiar with NOLA Gold’s system and with many of their players, having played with the team last year.
Both Dylan Fawsitt and Nate Brakeley return from international duty with the Eagles in South America the last two weeks in the ARC.
Both teams enjoy playing expansive rugby. They distribute the ball quickly and look for gaps in the defense. Expect both teams to control their own lineouts and to use that as a platform to attack from short range. The battle in the scrums should be one to watch. Both teams have an excellent group of forwards with NOLA Gold starting seven internationals to RUNY’s four. RUNY held their own against San Diego and expect them to do the same this week.
The match could come down to the team that maintains possession and minimizes any errors. JP Eloff and Cathal Marsh will make teams pay with their boot. Both teams also have a strong tactical kicking game and when they get in close range, they score.
NOLA Gold is on a roll with three consecutive wins to start the season. RUNY began the season with a quality win and has since had to practice in the cold weather of the Northeast. Mike Tolkin will have the team prepared, but Nate Osborne will also. The match shapes up to be a featured one this weekend.
Also, read the Rugby United New York Match preview!
Squads & Player Article Links
NOLA Gold: 1 Hubert Buydens 2 Eric Howard 3 Ben Tarr (VC) 4 Ignacio Dotti 5 Kane Thompson 6 Kyle Baille 7 Zack Stryffeler 8 Tony Lamborn 9 Holden Yungert 10 Scott Gale 11 JoJo Tikoisuva 12 Con Foley 13 Taylor Howden 14 Tristan Blewett 15 JP Eloff (C) 16 Matt Harmon 17 Cam Falcon 18 Kevin Sullivan 19 William Waguespack 20 Billy Stewart 21 John Sullivan 22 Shawn Riley 23 Nick Feakes
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Paddy Ryan 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Trevor Cassidy 6 Kyle Sumsion 7 Matt Hughston 8 Ross Deacon 9 Mike Petri 10 Cathal Marsh 11 Connor Wallace-Sims 12 Will Leonard 13 Ben Foden 14 Chris Mattina 15 Luke Hume 16 Mike Brown 17 Anthony Parry 18 Kirkland Hamilton19 Matt Wirken 20 Alex MacDonald 21 Marcus Walsh 22 Mark O’Keeffe 23 Derek Lipscomb