Match Preview: Old Glory DC vs New England Free Jacks

Old Glory DC hosts the New England Free Jacks on Sunday, April 25 at 3:30 pm ET at Segra Field in Leesburg, VA. The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

Old Glory DC needs a win to get back into the competitive MLR Eastern Conference race. They have a 1-2-1 record, with 8 points in the standings with a win over Rugby ATL, a draw against NOLA Gold, and pushed the first place Rugby United New York to the limit last Sunday in a 38-34 loss.

The New England Free Jacks have a 2-2 record with 11 points and come into the match after losing 30-29 to NOLA Gold last Saturday.

The Eastern Conference standings have RUNY #1 with 15 points, NOLA Gold #2 with 14, #3-5 are Toronto, New England, and Rugby ATL with 11 points, and Old Glory with 8.

This week features Conference matches with NOLA Gold at Rugby ATL on Saturday night, followed by RUNY hosting the Toronto Arrows in a Sunday match that precedes the match between Old Glory and the Free Jacks. Last year Rugby ATL beat their rivals NOLA Gold, while the other two matches were not played during the pandemic shortened 2020 season. In 2019, the matches between RUNY and Toronto were very close, and expect the same this Sunday.

Old Glory DC Head Coach Andrew Douglas will have two new additions to the team which has previously played for the Houston SaberCats. Former Fiji Olympian Osea Kolinisau and center Thomas Morani were signed to a two-week and four-week contract, respectively, as injury cover for Canadian internationals Doug Fraser and Ciaran Hearn. Both Morani and Kolinisau jump into the starters at right wing and outside center, respectively.

Meanwhile, some younger players for Old Glory have been starters in the back three, with Sam Cusano, D’Montae Noble at wing, and Mike Dubulas spending time at flyhalf and fullback. This week Cusano is being rested, Noble is a reserve, and Dublaus continues at fullback.

Young talent is also being developed in the reserves with Jack Iscaro and Dante Lopresti are at prop, Casey Renaud at lock, and Cory Daniel in the back row. Jack Carroll is out of the roster this week.

Old Glory had a change of strategy against RUNY last Sunday, kicking to touch for attacking lineouts to score tries, instead of kicking penalty goals. That resulted in two tries and helped their attack.

“[New England] is a structured side, organized, and has threats across the board,” Douglas stated. “The likes of Beaudein Waaka and Dougie Fife are dangerous players and also have good ball-carrying back rows in Joe Johnston and the Canadian captain Josh Larsen… They are pretty tidy and bring the heat on defense with their line speed. We have to be aware of that probably more so than the last two weeks.”

New England Head Coach Ryan Martin has a team that has a veteran presence. Recent collegiate graduates Justin Johnson and Joe Johnston have played regularly, and Tom Brusati was on the matchday roster last week but looks to make his MLR debut. Harrison Boyle, who is eligible to play for the USA National Team, and Mitch Wilson have started regularly, and Harry Barlow, from England, is also a young talented back.

This week Harry Barlow gains a start for Mitch Wilson at wing and Ronan McCusker is at lock with Conor Kindregan nursing an injury. New England will be without flanker Joe Johnston who is serving the final game of his suspension.

Evan Geist returns to the roster in the reserves at back row, while Peceli Rinakama and jared Collinson look to make their season debuts. Collinson would make his MLR regular season debut after playing with the team durin gthier exhibition season in 2019 and in preseason matches in 2020.

Old Glory DC Theme Day

“Sunday marks the first themed day, Celtic and Club Heritage Celebration, at Segra Field. When the gates open at 1:30 pm, Old Glory invites its fans in celebrating their own rugby clubs by wearing their club jerseys and t-shirts, celebrate our partners in the Scottish Rugby Union across the pond with SRU gear, or more generally represent with Irish, Welsh, or other Celtic-themed rugby kits. Scottish Rugby jerseys will be available for purchase along with a limited-edition Old Glory DC Celtic-inspired shirt, and bagpipers will perform during pre-game and at halftime. Players and clubs are encouraged to bring their banners and club flags to the stadium.”

Squads with Player Article Links

Old Glory DC: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Mikey Sosene-Feagai 3 Steven Longwell 4 Tevita Naqali 5 Stan South 6 Callum Gibbins 7 Mungo Mason (c) 8 Jamason Fa’anana Schultz 9 Danny Tusitala 10 Jason Robertson 11 Renata Roberts-TeNana 12 Thretton Palamo (c) 13 Thomas Morani 14 Osea Kolinisau 15 Mike Dabulas 16 Max Lum 17 Jack Iscaro 18 Dante Lopresti 19 Casey Renaud 20  Josh Brown 21 Daniel Thomas 22 D’Montae Noble 23 Cory Daniel

New England Free Jacks:  1 Sef Fa’gase 2 Pieter Jansen 3 Erich de Jager 4 Jackson Thiebes 5 Ronan McCuskerJosh Larsen (c) 7 Justin Johnson 8 Wian Conradie 9 John Poland 10 Harrison Boyle 11 Harry Barlow 12 Aleki Morris Lome 13 Dougie Fife 14 Poasa Waqanibau 15 Beaudein Waaka (VC) 16 Vili Toluta’u 17 Kensuke Hatakeyama 18 Quentin Newcomer 19 Tera Mtembu 20 Evan Geist 21 Tom Brusati 22 Jared Collinson 23  Peceli Rinakama

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant