Old Glory looking to build winning streak as they gear up for NOLA clash


Old Glory will return to Segra Field this weekend for their fifth match of the 2023 MLR season, hosting New Orleans Gold, the Eastern Conference’s dark horses.

Old Glory’s most recent outing saw the team produce what was arguably their best performance of the season so far, pounding the Toronto Arrows to a 29-3 victory, conceding just one penalty goal on their way to a commanding victory. The side ran like a well-oiled machine throughout the 80 minutes, with determined defending and relentless attacking combining to cause a host of problems for their visitors.

This victory saw Old Glory spend Saturday night as leaders of the Eastern Conference, before being knocked from their perch by the New England Free Jacks, who defeated Northeastern rivals Rugby New York on Sunday morning. DC remain second in the standings, however, and a win on Saturday afternoon could see them return to pole position. The points are incredibly tight, though, and a loss could knock us as low as fifth. As we approach the season’s halfway point, this weekend’s matchup is an absolute must win if Old Glory are to qualify for the playoffs, and a loss could seriously dent our postseason plans.


But can the boarders from the Bayou really threaten to rain on our potential playoff parade? NOLA Gold have had something of a topsy-turvy season, with both dramatic losses and upset victories. They have played five matches this season, one more than Old Glory, and will carry a 2-3 record into week 6. The team didn’t manage to win a match in any of their first three games in 2023, falling to New England, Houston, and Atlanta before returning to batter Rugby New York 31-5, following their maiden victory up with a 37-14 victory over Utah. It is worth noting that NOLA’s two wins have both come at home with the side yet to win on the road this year, a stat which bodes well for Old Glory, who still boast a 100% home record.

The match is very much in the balance, with both sides ready to ask questions of their opponents. Can NOLA upset Old Glory’s flawless home record? Can Old Glory put a stop to NOLA’s run of wins?

To attempt to answer these questions, its worth taking a look at the players who might influence the game’s outcome. On the Old Glory side of things, you can never count out Tito Diaz Bonilla. Bonilla has been untouchable all season, with a hot right foot ready to melt the New Orleans defence. His kicks have set up countless tries this season, not to mention the myriad penalties and conversions he has slotted. The Argentine is currently leading the league for points scored (40) and kicking meters (2857). His fellow countryman Marcos Young is also well worth keeping an eye on. His explosive pace makes him an important weapon on attack as evidenced by his second half try against the Arrows. He is a player with potential to change a game, and will be well worth keeping an eye on. Just make sure you don’t blink.

In the case of NOLA, one man appears at the top of a lot of leader boards. That man is Esekia Iona, Samoan fly-half and Super Rugby veteran. He plays a similar role to Bonilla, sitting just behind our Argentine on the list of top MLR points scorers (39 vs 40), successful goal kicking (12 vs 15), and kicking meters (1490 vs 2857). The kicking game will prove to be important on Saturday afternoon, and the balance of the game may well be swayed by penalty goals and territorial kicking. Other important NOLA names include Tom Florence (flanker) and Jordan Trainor (outside back), both of whom have recorded impressive carry statistics and will put the Old Glory defence through its paces.

There is a lot on the line on Saturday. NOLA is a tough team to read, and the OGs will need to be on top of their game to bring home a result and claim their place at the top of the Eastern Conference.


-by Arthur Ferridge

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