The Next Chapter of Old Glory Begins on Saturday in Canada

The Next Chapter of Old Glory Begins on Saturday in Canada

Following Old Glory’s most competitive and complete match of the season, the Nate Osborne era begins as OG plays its first international match at the Toronto Arrows in Canada on Saturday. DC nearly pulled off an epic upset of Rugby New York last weekend, where it pushed the opponents to the brink. OGDC has built on top of each game this year and, with a new head coach at the helm, the team is excited for the second half of the season. It’s a rematch of Week 4 on Saturday at 12:00 pm, and it will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Washington and the Rugby Network. 

 

An Almost Upset in Hoboken, But Still Nets Two Bonus Points

 

Although Coach Osborne watched from the stands, the team found plenty of positive takeaways from New York, including two bonus points for scoring five tries and keeping the game within seven points.

 

“I’ve been on the record many times saying that New York will win the championship this year,” Osborne said. “If that is the pinnacle of what the best team in the league is, we were right there. We were probably a couple of our own mistakes away from winning that game.”

 

“This team has the ability with its backs to play that wide and fast game,” Osborne continued. “There were different parts of that game on Sunday where we got on the front foot and started streaming through them and playing fast. I think that’s something we want to keep building on and do for longer periods of time.”

 

Roster Readjustment North of the Border

 

A decidedly different lineup will travel north this weekend. Injuries to Facundo Gattas (out for the season with a fractured foot) and Doug Fraser (orbital bone injury) and a slew of impressive, inspired performances have caused Coach Osborne to make several changes to the game day 23. 

 

In the backs, Rohan Saifoloi makes his return to flyhalf, and Mike Dabulas moves back to fullback, where he flourished last year. Coach Osborne believes Chicken can be more of a playmaker with more time and space at fullback, while Salfoloi plays a more traditional #10 where he can dictate and drive the team around the field.

 

Thretton Palamo made an immediate impact when he was inserted into the game against New York, and his play has earned him a start next to William Talataina in the centers. Junior Sa’u thrived after switching to the wing in the second half and will join Renata Roberts-Te Nana at the position. The electric Peni Lasaqa will be the first man off the bench, ready to give his teammates a game-breaker in the second half. Danny Thomas and Owen Sheehy are the backups on the sideline. 

 

“Thretton is a huge leader on this team,” Osborne noted. “I’ve been on the record saying Thretton and Cam Dolan are the two best American-born players I’ve ever coached. Knowing Thretton well and knowing what he was going to bring to the game, his carries, and energy [improve everyone on the field.] Putting Junior in a position where he’s never played and scoring those two tries gives all the boys confidence. We can move around, but we have to get the best players on the field.”

 

As for the forwards, Jack Iscaro returns to the starting lineup at loosehead after a three-game absence. The Golden Bear will join Rob Irimescu and Kyle Stewart in the front row to confront the Arrows. The rest of the pack remains the same with Stan South and Tevita Naqali at second row, Dom Bailey and Cory Daniel at flanker, and Luke Campbell at No. 8. Api Naikitini, Jake Ilnicki, Jack Carroll, Fintan Coleman, Dacoda Worth, and Mo Katz are the impact subs.

 

Big Test in Canada on Saturday

 

After starting the season 1-2, Toronto ventured into Segra Field and handed Old Glory one of its worst defeats of the season in Week 4. DC scored first, but the Arrows dominated, scoring four straight tries for the 29-5 victory. Toronto has gone 2-2 since to even their record at 4-4 and is firmly in the hunt for the playoffs. However, after beating New York at home two weeks ago, the Arrows fell to Atlanta 20-14 in their first home match at York Lions Stadium in almost three years. 

 

“Toronto is always a tough, physical team, and that’s why they beat New York,” Osborne said. “They were more physical than New York. For me, you can’t say they have bad weeks. They’ve had games where they didn’t play well. They’ve never been out of a contest. Even against Atlanta, every time it looked like Atlanta was going to run away with it, Toronto was right there and would fight to the death.”

 

The Arrows are a forwards-heavy outfit led by captain Mike Sheppard and flyhalf Sam Malcolm. Andrew Quattrin, Kyle Baillie, Cole Keith, and Lucas Rumball are menaces in the pack and the set-piece. However, a rash of injuries has taken its toll on Toronto, especially at scrumhalf. The team is on its fourth #9 after Chris Bell went down last weekend, and Malcolm had to switch positions, which limited his effectiveness. Nevertheless, the Arrows hope to have a few players back against DC.

 

“They are a good team, but I also know what we got here,” Osborne stated. “We know what the job is in front of us, but we’re really focused on ourselves right now. We’re not that focused on Toronto. I know it’s weird to say, but we understand how they play. If we play how we want to play, we will be hard to beat.”

 

Old Glory Ready to Start Anew on Saturday

 

With eight games in the can, Old Glory will start the second half of the season with a new slate and a new head coach. “Last week, we talked about closing that chapter of the book that Andrew [Douglas] was here,” Osborne reflected. “Andrew is a great man and a great friend of mine. I thought he did a good job, but sometimes change is needed, and change comes. Everyone is excited, and I’m excited to open this new chapter this week. We want to start my era here, and I plan on being here for a long time. I want to start it on a winning note and everybody firing in and playing together. Playing as mates, not teammates.”

 

Old Glory is going to Toronto looking for a fight and bringing back a win for DC on Saturday. “It’s going to be a battle of the forwards,” Osborne concluded. “Our backs are quicker than them. If our forwards can lay a platform for us and win the middle, we can take a huge step forward toward winning this game. I like to say the forwards are the stuntmen and the backs are the movie stars. If the stuntmen do their job, we should get some Oscars in the backs.”

 

 

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