It was May 19, 2019 and I was extremely excited. Today would be the first day of the four game long exhibition season hosted by Old Glory DC at Catholic University. It was a crazy day because a couple hours before kickoff, I was very far away — near Richmond — playing in a rugby tournament of my own. When my last game ended, I literally ran off the field and jumped in my Dad’s car. My mom updated us via text. I was itching to get to the field. We got back to DC a few minutes after kick off — and that was the only part of 2019 exhibition season I missed! When my dad and I pulled up to Cardinal Stadium, I was surprised to hear lots of cheering and music coming from the stands. After we parked and headed into the main building to check in, I rushed outside and saw the stands packed full of supporters. I was so happy because I had never thought this many people would turn up for a rugby game. It really showed how passionate the fans were about this team.
My dad and I joined my mom and my siblings in the middle of the stands. All around me people were cheering, clapping, and enjoying the game. It was so great to be there and to feel the energy in the stands. I remember a certain group of people towards our right who were cheering their hearts out — they started chants and cheers of their own, and soon we all joined in.
The game itself was also awesome to watch. I had been following Old Glory’s Instagram for a while by then, and I had seen the postings about all their new signings, so it was cool to finally see those faces and names in action. The game was very fast-paced, and Old Glory was giving Shannon a fight. At halftime, they even had kids’ touch games on the field.
Old Glory came out flying in 2nd half and mounted a huge comeback. The Irish side looked flatfooted and exhausted. Shannon didn’t score in second half and if Old Glory had five more minutes they would have won. It ended 22-26 and unfortunately the Irish boys had beaten Old Glory. Old Glory still played very aggressive and had Shannon in their defending half most of the second half of the game.
My family enjoyed the game as well. My little brother liked the Kid Zone and the ability to run around – something which you can’t do at most stadiums. My little sister liked it a lot too (but she hopes there will be more food trucks in the future!) I loved how the players walked around at the end and greeted fans. It was awesome to talk to them and give them a high five or a handshake. My dad liked the tailgating section where he could go hang out with his old rugby buddies, tell the same stories again and have a beer. My mom liked how well-organized the whole event was, especially how there were activities for kids. It was really a great day.
The following week’s match also a very special treat. Old Glory took on the Scotland Under 20 national team. This was a big day for international rugby, and it was also a big day for Old Glory because they have partnered with the Scottish Rugby Union. The Scottish team was incredible, especially the forwards. Old Glory lost to a talented and aggressive U20 side, and the final score was 7-70 favoring Scotland. Regardless of the score, I still had fun and enjoyed the overall experience.
The final two games — against the US South select side and a talented Canadian side — were great as well. Old Glory won both, the crowds were big and boisterous, and a great time was had by all.
When my friends asked me about Old Glory, I tell them this: When you go to these games, not only are you going to watch a great team play, you are going to have a blast. You will be part of a great fan group, you will get to enjoy great food, and you will be part of a real and authentic rugby community that’s growing every day. I enjoyed every game at this year’s exhibition season, and I am ecstatic to see Old Glory’s first season in MLR next spring.