It’s Dallas week in DC. If you are a sports fan in the District area, you know what that means. (If you’re not familiar with it, read up on the rivalry here.) A day of rugby at Segra Field culminates in a fierce contest between Old Glory DC and the Dallas Jackals on Saturday night. Fresh off its first win of the season, Old Glory will look to build on the 22-21 victory over the Utah Warriors. The Jackals are still searching for their first win and come to the Nation’s Capital hungry. Join the excitement for Pride Night OUT as the game kicks off at 8:00 pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster and the game will be broadcast live on FS2.
Team DC hosts its annual Pride Night OUT Series at Old Glory’s Week 12 home match. This series is one of the largest annual LGBTQ community events in all professional sports. As a part of the series, Team DC members Washington Renegades kick off in a 15s match at a neighboring field (42214 Greenfield Mill Drive, Leesburg, VA 20175) at 5 pm. Additionally, DC Furies will be playing an intrateam 7s match at halftime! Last but not least, Team DC will be raffling a team-signed ball on the concourse. So come out and show your Pride on Saturday!
Victory Unlocked Against Utah
The weight of a winless season was finally lifted last Friday as Old Glory defeated Utah. Down by eleven points in the second half, the defense shut out the Warriors for the final 30 minutes, and the offense fought for every inch behind tries from Junior Sa’u, Peni Lasaqa, Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz, and Fintan Coleman.
“The first thing I did [Monday] morning was congratulating the boys on the victory. I said I never want to hear about it again for the rest of the week,” head coach Nate Osborne said. “There isn’t any point winning a game and turning up this week flat and getting beat by Dallas. We want to use that victory as a springboard to build from.”
“It was awesome,” Felix Kalapu reflected. “A change of momentum. Get the boys hustling for the next game and try to carry on that buzz… [To keep winning,] we need to win our battles, especially around the ruck area. Be in the game and play direct.”
Getting Healthier and Ready for the Final Run of the Season
Setting up for the last six games of the season, Coach Osborne and his staff have made a few changes to the lineup for Dallas. After playing nearly every minute of the season thus far, Stan South will take a rest on Saturday, with Kalapu replacing him in the second row. The front row of Jack Iscaro, Rob Irimescu, and Kyle Stewart remains the same and Tevita Naqali slotting in at lock. Fa’anana-Schultz is inserted at No. 8, with Luke Campbell sliding to flanker with Cory Daniel.
The coaching staff sees no changes in the backline with captain Danny Tusitala and Saifoloi at #9 and #10 and Thretton Palamo and William Talataina in the centers. The back three consists of power and quickness with Sa’u and Lasaqa at the wings and Renata Roberts-Te Nana at fullback.
On the bench, health has provided some much-needed depth. Back from injury, Doug Fraser will provide pop and experience in the reserves. Api Naikitini is rested and ready for the final stretch and joins Jack Carroll, Coleman, Jake Ilnicki, Mo Katz, Owen Sheehy, and Danny Thomas to fill out the rest of the 5-3 split.
First-Ever Meeting Against Dallas
Although Dallas has struggled mightily as an MLR expansion franchise, Old Glory knows they shouldn’t take the Jackals for granted.
Injuries are one of the major reasons for Dallas’ poor showing recently, as it has dropped its last four contests by a total of 169-28. After an unfortunate off-field accident in March, many players were sent to the injured list, and a few have since returned. Adding to the list, flyhalf Alejandro Torres suffered a knee injury early in the game versus Austin. Newcomer Matoko Noudéhou is Jackals’ third flyhalf after Adriaan Carelse went down with an ankle against LA.
“Dallas is an interesting team,” Osborne noted. “When they have their top 15 players on the field, they are a very dangerous team. They’ve had a lot of injuries and have a lot of guys coming in from other teams. They are a team that’s a lot like us because they feel like they are better than their record shows. They have been in a couple of games where they lost in the last few seconds.”
“Teams that are getting beat every week, you’ve got to get on top of them and take away that belief that they can beat you,” Osborne said. “We talked about our start being slow, but this is the week more than ever that we need to start fast… I don’t want to have players have a letdown or breathe a sigh of relief that they won a game. We got to build on top of it and stay on top of them because they can be dangerous.”
The return of captain Chris Pennell last week brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the backline. The Jackals hope to have Eric Naposki back to team up with Chad London, Campbell Johnstone, and Cael Hodgson.
In the forwards, Conrado Roura and Adriaan Booysen are a formidable duo in the back row. Midseason pickups like Asa Carter, Augusto Böhme, Herman Agenbag, and Charlie Hola have stepped up, and Matthew Frings’ return from suspension should lift the spirits of the team.
Building on Success
After three competitive games in 12 days, Old Glory knows it’s not the time to take the foot off the gas.
“[We need to] build on what we’ve built the last three weeks and not go backward,” Osborne indicated. “Play with belief again and understand how we want to play. When we got opportunities, we got to hunt and hunt together as a pack and as a team. We can’t be one-off as individuals because we saw what that gave us at the start of the year. So keep building and be better than the week before.”
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” Kalapu concluded. “We definitely know that they are going to come at us, and we can’t slip off and think this is going to be an easy win. It’s going to be a great battle, and if we go in with that mindset, we can have a great game out there.”