Old Glory DC Returns to Austin to Defend the Cuisine Solutions Cup


After a rough season opener in Atlanta, Old Glory DC is on the road again this week against the Austin Gilgronis, appearing in the MLR Match of the Week. DC will defend the Cuisine Solutions Cup trophy versus a squad with its sights on a championship in the nationally televised rematch. Having dismantled Dallas to begin its season, the AGs have upgraded in key positions this year and expect to challenge for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Old Glory, having knocked off the dust in Week 1, plans to improve its record over Austin to 3-0. The action unfolds on FS1 at 8:30 pm eastern on Saturday at Bold Stadium in Austin, Texas. 

Week 1 Offers Promise 

Last weekend down in Georgia, Old Glory went blow-for-blow against Rugby ATL until a series of offensive barrages weakened the defense halfway through the second half for the OGs. 

“The first 55 minutes went pretty good,” Head Coach Andrew Douglas indicated. “We stuck in with a very good team and defended really well for long periods of time. I think when they got their try around the 57th minute, it deflated us a bit. We started to get tired on defense which left space out wide. They got the gain line on us which means they got front-foot-ball. So we started chasing a little bit. The last 20 was disappointing to concede that many points after working so hard for the first 55.”

“It was a good first hit up against a classy Atlanta side,” captain Danny Tusitala added. “Our boys took a lot of learnings from that. We had a few debutants and a couple boys who played their first MLR game. They got their first experience of what footy is like over here… It was obviously not the result we wanted, but it was a good start as a new group together.”

Roster Changes for Week 2

Unfortunately, the match took its toll on the squad. Locks Stan South and Tevita Naqali and flyhalf Mike Dabulas sustained injuries that will keep them sidelined this weekend. Luke Campbell and Cory Daniel are still on the mend, but could be game-time decisions come Saturday.

Coach Douglas will shuffle his forwards by bringing in Matthew Gordon to team with Api Naikitini in the second row. The front row of Jack Iscaro, Mo Katz, and Kyle Stewart held their own against Atlanta’s scrum and will test their might against Austin. Ex-Gilgroni Dom Bailey and Fintan Coleman will line up at flanker and Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz will complete the back row at #8 after scoring a try versus Atlanta. Jake Ilnicki, Rob Irimescu, Will Vakalahi, and Josh Brown are just a few reinforcements that may be available in the forwards. With the injury to Dabulas, William Talataina will slide to flyhalf to pair with Tusitala at scrumhalf. Junior Sa’u stays at inside center while Doug Fraser comes in at outside. Simi Moala will make his first MLR start at wing with Renata Roberts-Te Nana manning the other side. Lastly, Owen Sheehy gets the nod at the sweeper spot at #15. The likes of LJ Koi-Larbi and John Lefevre will come off the bench.

A Look at Austin 

Old Glory has a tough task ahead of it this Saturday as Austin demolished Dallas 43-7 in its home opener. The Austin forwards dominated the contest with their devastating set-piece and work rate. Moreover, the relentless defensive pressure caused multiple penalties and cards, which the Jackals could not escape from. 

“We have to get to the line and make our tackles first and foremost,” Douglas said. “Take their time and space away from them. Their set-piece is good, but we have to put pressure on them all the same. We have to repeat what we did for 55 minutes against Atlanta, but do it for a whole 80.”

The brutal front row of Jake Turnbull, Robbie Coetzee, and Namatahi Waa controlled Dallas, and second rows Christian Ostberg and Isaac Ross were instrumental in the blowout. 

In the backs, offseason acquisitions Mark O’Keeffe, Julián Domínguez, and Ryan Louwrens were catalysts on the offense and kept the go-forward momentum for the whole game. When you add in Connor Mooneyham and USA Eagles Bryce Campbell, Will Magie, and Marcel Brache, the AGs are hard to stop. 

The Austin defense was a steel trap after Dallas scored its first-ever try early in the match. For the next 65 minutes of shutout rugby, the Jackals crossed midfield a mere seven times, entered the 22 five times, and got inside the ten-meter only three times. 

“You have to exploit their space,” Douglas indicated. “Our kicking game has to be better to play in better parts of the field and know what to do with it… Like most teams, if you hold onto the ball for long periods of time, you’ll break them down eventually. When we got things right against Atlanta, we looked pretty dangerous exploiting edges, so we’ll look to do the same against Austin.”

With a nationally televised match on FS1 Saturday, Tusitala summed up the potential for the test, saying, “It’ll be just expansive, running rugby. Hard-hitting and explosive. There will definitely be a lot of energy in this game, whether it’s on the ball or off the ball. It will be a game full of rivalry for the Cuisine Solutions Cup. It’s become an awesome rivalry for the last two seasons, and it’s only going to get better.” 

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