Old Glory Returns to Georgia for Final Road Game Against Toronto
By Evan Lappen
Old Glory DC is back on the road this Sunday when it returns to Lupo Family Field in Marietta, Ga., to face the Toronto Arrows. Both teams are in the midst of losing streaks and hope to use this weekend’s victory as a springboard to build confidence and momentum. Old Glory will be out for revenge and redemption from its defeat to the Arrows in Week 3. Celebrate the Fourth of July with Old Glory DC at 6:00 pm on FS1 and the Rugby Network internationally.
Nick Saban once said, “One thing about championship teams is that they’re resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.”
While Old Glory isn’t playing for the championship this season, it has had its fair share of adversity. The one thing the team has shown this year is the never-quit attitude. The team has the talent and direction to succeed and now needs to find the confidence and motivation to complete the season.
“We have to be a professional team and keep working hard,” head coach Andrew Douglas said. “At the moment, the boys are trying. We need to find a sense of what we’re playing for right now and find what’s going to drive us through the next three games.”
With the Atlanta game in the rearview, it’s time to focus on Sunday’s opponent, the Toronto Arrows. Unfortunately, for the next two games, DC will be without its four international test players in Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, Mikey Sosene-Feagai, Mike Dabulas, and Doug Fraser. The other injury of note is that Cory Daniel is in the concussion protocol and monitored during this week.
The absence of the international test players will allow the coaching staff to see their up-and-coming players thrive with increased playing time and evaluate them for next season.
“It’s a good time to see where they’re at,” Douglas stated. “Give them experience and grade them a bit. We’ll look to develop players. Hopefully, give new energy to the group and give us some excitement. At the same time, our established players really want to play and want to do well, but they know they haven’t been at their best this season. There is still hunger and a drive here, but it’s making sure we channel it and find that desire to win.”
Awaiting them this Sunday is Toronto. Like DC, the Arrows’ season has not gone the way they hoped after a successful run last year. Toronto is 4-10 this season and is desperate to break its five-game losing streak. However, one of their wins was a 40-19 defeat of Old Glory in early April. The Arrows deployed an opportunistic, clinical attack to score early in that game and never looked back.
“[Toronto] was big and strong and pretty powerful that day,” Douglas said. “They were pretty physical against us. They played a bit more expansive than I thought they were going to be that day… Their set-piece was better than we gave them credit for, and they certainly attacked us in the right areas.”
More recently, the Arrows never gave up at home last week against New York. “They were quite aggressive and stuck in that game,” Douglas said. “New York had more of the flash, but Toronto never gave it away… Up to the last couple of minutes, they could have snatched a win. I think they will bring that same tenacity against us on Sunday.”
Toronto is dealing with its own international test departures with an MLR-high 12 players competing for Canada and Uruguay. The Arrows brought in a slew of replacements, most notably Sam Malcolm, who led the league in points last season.
Even without its internationals, Toronto is dangerous. The Arrows can score from any position as they did against New York. Joaquín Tuculet started with a try off a turnover, Mike Sheppard dove in on a forwards ball following a lineout, and Mitch Richardson finished a nifty counterattack after a beautiful offload by Tuculet. Add in Ronan Foley, the Irish U20 led the team with 21 tackles and 56 carry meters.
“Sam Malcolm and Tayler Adams will probably run the show,” Douglas indicated. “Those two are key for them. Obviously, [Tomás] de la Vega at #7, their captain, is going to pull a few strings. It’s hard to know what their team is going to be with some many players away. You have to wait to see what their squad is going to be like because there is a lot of changes.”
This weekend’s match will be less about Toronto and more about what Old Glory brings to the pitch. Thretton Palamo and Callum Gibbins each scored their fourth tries of the season on Sunday, and Mungo Mason continues to get back into top playing form. The Danny Tusitala-Jason Robertson connection is strong, and Renata Roberts-Te Nana is a threat on both sides of the ball.
As for the rookies, everyone wants to see what D’Monate Noble can do with the ball in his hands. The Kutztown winger has been electric and will look to earn a start in the final stretch. Sam Cusano continues to impress, Casey Renaud is learning the ropes in the engine room, and Cory Daniel is a beast on defense. Jack Iscaro and Dante Lopresti in the front row have been solid and have shined in relief.
“We have to want to win,” Douglas concluded. “It’s an easy thing to say, but it’s that urgency and desperation… I’d like to get out there and see if we can express ourselves. It’s got to come from these players. It’s not that they want to do well, but they need to find their inner motivation to really want to achieve and the desire to win. I really hope they do and do themselves proud.”