Old Glory look to build positive momentum in Utah Warriors matchup


This week, the Old Glory faithful are gearing up for their ninth match of the 2023 MLR season, which will see them host the Utah Warriors at Segra Field on Saturday afternoon.

Old Glory enjoyed a classic victory over the New York Ironworkers last time out, overcoming a 12-24 halftime deficit to win 42-31 in the Leesburg sunshine. This was our first ever franchise victory over Rugby New York, and, following a string of three consecutive defeats, could mark a turning point in our season.

Old Glory like to play a form of champagne rugby, enjoying fast paced, free flowing play, but for much of the season the team hasn’t quite been able to pull it all together. On Sunday night, however, it all came good in simply beautiful fashion. All the offloads landed, cheeky trick plays worked a treat, and we did it in style in our stunning one-off cherry blossom jerseys, which raised thousands of dollars for Veterans Moving Forward. It’s hard to imagine what could have gone better!

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the New York match is the fashion in which we turned the tie around. After conceding early and going into halftime down quite badly, the lads rallied, producing a second half display for the ages. That mental tenacity could prove to be crucial this weekend, with the Utah Warriors constituting much tougher opposition than the Ironworkers. The Warriors boast a 6-2 record and are in formidable form, with four wins on the trot, most recently downing the high-flying Seattle Seawolves by a score of 41-35.

Old Glory last faced Utah almost exactly a year ago on April 16, 2022, a nail-biter of a match which ended in a 22-21 bonus point victory for the OGs. Our four tries on that day came through Junior Sa’u, Peni Lasaqa, Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, and Fintan Coleman, all of whom started in Saturday’s victory.

Despite Utah’s impressive record, they sit just fourth in the Western Conference with 27 points to their name, just four points behind the Houston Sabercats in second place.

The Utah squad is home to some incredible players, several of whom are league leaders in various stats. One of the biggest names in the squad is Geordie fly half Joel Hodgson, one of the best #10s in the league besides Tito Diaz Bonilla, who should be set to start after resting last weekend. Hodgson has extensive experience in the English rugby pyramid, scoring 373 points in 105 appearances for the Newcastle Falcons and appearing for the Glasgow Warriors and Northampton Saints. 

The face-off between Hodgson and Bonilla will be nothing short of cinema. While Hodgson sits fourth in the league for points scored (62), Tito sits third (67). Hodgson is second for kicking metres with an impressive 2,851m, Tito blows him out of the water with a league-leading 4,242m. The two are tied for successful kicks at the posts, with 23 successful kicks each. As both men have massive influence over their respective teams’ performances, the battle between the opposite tens will prove to be crucial.

Other notable names in the Utah squad include wing Joe Mano, who has scored a table-topping eight tries, and flanker Lance Williams, who has made an impressive 105 tackles in just eight matches.

For every big number on the Utah stat sheet, Old Glory has an equally impressive player, and after last week’s victory the team should be firing on all cylinders and brimming with confidence. Danny Tusitala has been incredibly impressive in recent weeks. His tactical kicking has been well timed and better executed, and mistakes have been few and far between. He is a leader in the team, and a strong performance from him will be crucial for upsetting Utah.

Of course, I’d be remiss to not mention our newest signing Langilangi Haupeakui. Haupeakui has pulled off one of sports’ most challenging feats, assimilating seamlessly into a new team in an unbelievable timeframe. He arrived in the team on April 4 and made his debut just four days later against Atlanta, going on to make his full debut against New York after less than two weeks. In a game where team chemistry is so important, Langilangi has slotted into the side like a Lincoln Log, producing performances indicative of his class and experience.

After the teams performance in week nine, I could list almost every name on the team sheet as a player in good form who could pose a threat to the Warriors, but to save both my time and yours I will list off a couple of honourable mentions: Lautaro Bavaro and Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz were brilliant, and Thretton Palamo played fantastically after coming off the bench.

This weekend’s matchup with Utah Warriors will not be one to miss. We look forward to seeing you all at Segra Field on Saturday!

-by Arthur Ferridge, @rthur_ferridge

Don't miss a thing, stay in touch with the team

Read More

Rugby 101

Want to Play Rugby? These organizations will help you find a rugby team near by! Youth level Washington DC Youth Rugby   washingtondcyouthrugby.org/ Rugby Maryland