Old Glory head to Louisiana for seminal NOLA matchup


Old Glory DC are once again hitting the road this weekend, heading to New Orleans for what will be our penultimate road trip of the 2023 season. The OGs are gearing up to face Eastern Conference juggernauts NOLA Gold, to whom they narrowly lost in March, in a match which will have direct implications for the race for the two remaining playoff places.

NOLA’s 17-20 victory at Segra Field earlier this year was the third instalment in a series of four victories for our visitors, though since that purple patch they have managed just one victory. They currently sit second from bottom of the MLR Eastern Conference with a 5-8 record, seven points behind second-placed Old Glory. A win on Saturday could see the Bayou-based outfit move up to fourth place in the division, while a rare away win for Old Glory could put us as much as six points clear of Rugby New York.

That said, Old Glory’s away form in 2023 has left something to be desired. They have played away from Segra Field on seven occasions so far in 2023, only managing to defeat the Dallas Jackals in a match cut short by Texan weather. Conversely, NOLA’s home form also isn’t the best, with the Gold toting a record of just three wins in seven appearances at The Gold Mine. This leaves us with something of a conundrum. Who will win out: a team uneasy playing at home, or a team averse to playing on the road?

To answer this question, let’s take a look at both teams’ recent form. New Orleans’ last outing was one that I’m sure few Louisianians will want to reminisce on, as they were schooled by the New England Free Jacks, taking a beating so severe that NOLA needed a bye week to recover. The 50-3 scoreline will have done few favors for NOLA’s previously respectable points differential (-90), so it will be interesting to see how the team has regrouped in its week off. Other recent matches haven’t been much more impressive, with consecutive losses to San Diego (12-26) and New York (54-19) marking a rather dismal period for our host. Despite this form, they remain very much in the conversation for a playoff place, currently sitting just six points adrift of qualification.

To be frank, Old Glory’s form in recent weeks hasn’t been much better than NOLA’s. Saturday’s defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seawolves (19-41) speaks for itself, as do the disappointing midweek Toronto tie and home loss to the seemingly unstoppable New England Free Jacks. Despite the unimpressive record, in their last three matches Old Glory have scored more than double the points of NOLA Gold (72-34). When faced with slightly less intimidating opposition, Old Glory’s boundless potential could come good for the first time in a while.

While one might expect this match to be slightly easier for Old Glory than other recent fixtures, New Orleans are not a team to be underestimated. Some sects of the OGDC faithful might have made that mistake earlier this season when they were upset by NOLA at Segra Field.

It is a given that NOLA has some weapons in its squad. Chief amongst these is South African center JP du Plessis, who scored a try in the reverse fixture. He has recorded 134 carries this season (1210m), placing fourth in the league. Also worth watching is Moni Tongauiha, who carried for 116m and made 13 tackles in 80 minutes in his last appearance.

Old Glory players looking to influence the game could include Niko Jones, an effective young flanker who has been hugely impressive in his recent fixtures, and opposite flanker Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, who has reached 143 carries and 173 tackles so far this season. Other players with potential to make a splash could include our half-back pairing of Danny Tusitala, who made his fiftieth MLR appearance last time out, and Tito Diaz Bonilla, an Argentine international who regularly dictates play from the #10 position.

-by Arthur Ferridge, @rthur_ferridge

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