Banking on a resurgence Friday night, Old Glory DC hopes the home crowd at Segra Field will spark its first victory against New England. OGDC will work to rebound after a dismal pair of road games and face a squad it already has beaten this preseason. The Free Jacks are coming off a bye and will look to improve their record to 2-0. The coaching staff will shake up the Old Glory starting 15 with new arrivals and new position groupings to ignite a fire under the team.
Old Glory’s home opener is this Friday night at 8:00 pm at Segra Field in Leesburg, Va. for Light Up Loudoun Night. Gates open at 6:00 pm with various familiar activities like a kid’s zone, face painting, and beer garden to new 2022 activations like a hype squad, photobooth, multiple giveaways, and a light show. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster. If you can’t be there, tune in to Twitter to follow the Monument Man’s live updates, NBC Sports Washington, and the Rugby Network for all the action.
A Rough Start to the Season
Things couldn’t have gone worse in the first two games of the 2022 MLR season. Poor performances and a rash of injuries resulted in a pair of over 30-point losses. To add on top of it, the 57-12 defeat to Austin meant the surrender of the Cuisine Solutions Cup to the Gilgronis.
Old Glory is now faced with a similar situation as early last season after a two-game losing skid. After losing to Toronto and New York, DC returned to Segra Field and beat New England 35-22. The victory served as a ‘get-right’ game and evened OG’s record. The team has an opportunity on Friday night to do the same.
“It has to be,” Douglas said in regards to New England being a ‘get-right’ game. “We don’t have a choice, do we? We can’t carry on with those sorts of performances. Against Atlanta, we at least showed something. Obviously, the result was disappointing, but at least for the first 55 minutes, we played rugby and were in the fight. We showed nothing against Austin. So, it has to be.”
Changes in the Lineup
In order to accomplish its goal, DC needs make adjustments and that starts with a new starting 15. “If nothing changes, nothing changes. That performance last weekend wasn’t acceptable… We just have to be better,” Douglas concluded.
A shuffle in the front row has Jack Iscaro, Rob Irimescu, and Jake Ilnicki in the lineup with Api Naikitini and Stan South back at lock. Cory Daniel will flank with Dom Bailey in the back row and Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz will lead the forward pack at No. 8. For the reserves, Kyle Stewart, Mo Katz, Will Vakalahi, Dante Lopresti, Matt Gordon, and Fintan Coleman are in the mix.
The backline is where the coaching staff expects a new energy to reinvigorate the unit. Rohan Saifoloi and Peni Lasaqa are finally poised to make their MLR debuts at flyhalf and wing, respectively. Danny Tusitala will captain the team at scrumhalf and with an injury to Junior Sa’u, Renata Roberts-Te Nana will join the centers at outside and William Talataina will move back to inside. Doug Fraser returns to the wing and John Lefevre makes his first MLR start at fullback. Mike Dabulas is day-to-day with an injury leaving Owen Sheehy, Simi Moala, Danny Thomas, and LJ Koi-Larbi as the reinforcements.
Focus on the Free Jacks
On the road in Week 1, the Free Jacks defeated NOLA, 24-13, behind a 14-point performance from Beaudein Waaka (a try and 4/4 from the tee). However, new England will be well-rested and prepared following an early bye week in Week 2.
“New England is a pretty good side,” Douglas reflected. “They are very efficient, their set-piece is sound, and are defensively solid. They don’t make a lot of errors. They have some good threats with Waaka and Joe Johnston is good over the ball. Good side and dangerous.”
The coaching staff examined the game tape for flaws but didn’t come up with much. “They didn’t have a lot of ball,” Douglas said. “Most of their points came off of turnover attacks, so that’s the key thing. They are turnover dangerous, so we have to make sure we shut them down and not give the ball over too easily as we did against Austin.”
Waaka is NE’s main catalyst/playmaker, and he garners a lot of attention. With Dougie Fife getting suspended for a dangerous play versus NOLA, Waaka will probably shift back to fullback with Harrison Boyle at flyhalf.
“[Waaka] is very good on his feet and has a good kicking game,” Douglas said. “We have to put pressure on him and run on him and make sure he is making his tackles. Take energy away and force him into errors while taking his time away.”
Return to Segra Field
Rugby under the lights at Segra Field is a sight to behold. Old Glory DC can’t wait for the roar of the crowd and have a proper home-field advantage cheering them on Friday night.
“We’re really excited about it,” Douglas said. “We love our fans, and I truly believe we have the best fans in the league. Even after the last two weeks, they have been pretty loyal to us. We know we need to pay them back and thank them for their support. We are pretty keen to do that… It will be nice to be home.”
Light Up, Loudoun is presented by Loudoun Economic Development. When the lights are on at Segra Field, rugby is playing. When rugby is playing, the community comes together. And when the community comes together, anything is possible. Join Old Glory DC for its home opener in Loudoun County, to help us celebrate the kickoff of #MLR2022 and our beautiful game. The game of rugby isn’t for just anyone; it’s for everyone. It’s an experience that captivates and forms connections well beyond the final whistle.
Schedule of Events
6:00 PM – Doors open
6:30 PM – Loudoun Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
7:00 PM – Face Painter and Kid’s Zone opens
7:15 PM – Free Rugby 101 session for all-ages at information bike
7:20 PM – Old Glory DC and New England Free Jacks Warmups
7:50 PM – Ball Delivery
8:00 PM – National Anthem and Glory DC and New England Free Jacks Kick-Off
Don’t miss the 2022 home opener at Segra Field. Buy Tickets.