Old Glory Prepares for Toronto - Preseason Match Preview
By: Alistair Kirsch-Poole
Feb 10, 2023 - 3:00pm
Old Glory will line up against the Toronto Arrows for their second and final preseason match tonight. The Arrows are a familiar opponent, with Old Glory having played them a total of four times last season alone. However, Toronto has pivoted in the offseason and could be dramatically different this year.
- When: Friday, Feb 10, 2022
- Time: 7:00 pm ET
- Where: The St. James (Springfield) (map, tickets)
- Broadcasts: No broadcasts available
- Weather forecast: Indoor field
What to expect from the Toronto Arrows
The Arrows, as Canada's only professional rugby team, has historically loaded up on domestic Canadian talent. In some ways, they were a pseudo national team, packed to the gills with Canadian national team players.
In the offseason, though, they took a fairly dramatic turn. There was an exodus of many long-time Arrows, with many heading to other MLR rivals, particularly New England. They've also lost many of their overseas players, such as Tomás de la Vega, who went to France, and Gastón Mieres, who returned to Uruguay.
They do have a good looking squad for 2023, though. Returning stars include flanker Lucas Rumball and flyhalf Sam Malcolm, both of whom are absolute legends in Toronto. New signings coming in include Super Rugby center Tautalatasi Tasi, who looks like he'll have a great impact.
Toronto and Old Glory actually already have an opponent in common this season, as both have played Rugby New York. While Old Glory lost by less than Toronto did, the two performances were roughly equal. That should mean a good matchup tonight.
What to expect from Old Glory DC
We saw a lot of good things last week, with tackling being much improved from last year and the forward pack showing some dominance. Still, there are some things we should hope to see improved:
Protecting the breakdown
Old Glory allowed a number of turnovers in rucks last week, and the task isn't going to get any easier against Toronto. Lucas Rumball is a notrious ball thief, and so will be a good test of how well OGDC is protecting the breakdown.
A plan in the backs
The back line was a little too basic last week. They didn't have much creativity or variation in how they attacked, and it left them open to being hit behind the gainline. I'm hoping to see a bit more variation in the attacking strategy to open up what is otherwise a great back line.
A great crowd
Last week it was standing room only in the St James. Hopefully that energy continues and we see another sellout crowd.
Once again, Old Glory has decided to have separate teams for each half. They have also again decided to have both teams be a mixture of starters and backups, which is an interesting choice. I was expecting them to put the expected starting lineup out for at least part of this match so that they could get some game time together as a full unit, but the coaches have clearly decided against that. It may be a strategic choice in order to avoid showing too much of their game plan ahead of the season.
Old Glory First Half
- Jack Iscaro
- Nic Souchon
- Cali Martinez
- Stan South (VC)
- Collin Grosse
- Lautaro Bavaro
- Cory Daniel
- Jamason Fa'anana-Schultz
- Danny Tusitala
- Tito Diaz Bonilla
- Junior Sa'u
- Fermin Martinez
- Thretton Palamo
- Mike Dabulas
- Kurt Baker
- Koi Koi Nelligan
- Mike Weir
- William Talataina
- Jose Reyes
- Alex Balladares
The first half lineup includes a number of notable aspects. Collin Grosse will start at lock, a position he played in college but that pundits have speculated he would be too short for in the professional ranks. Clearly, this will be a test of that theory.
Also notable is the return of Junior Sa'u and Thretton Palamo, neither of whom played last weekend due to injury. That they are both healthy again is excellent to see.
Finally, a new player will be coming off the bench: scrumhalf Jose Reyes, who was just signed a couple days ago.
Old Glory Second Half
- Quentin Newcomer
- Facundo Gattas
- Kyle Stewart
- Api Naikatini
- David Beach
- Brady Daniel
- Alejo Daireaux
- Tevita Naqali
- Gardy Lebon
- Gradyn Bowd
- John Rizzo
- Doug Fraser
- Marcos Young
- Peni Lasaqa
- Owen Sheehy
In the second half we'll see Tevita Naqali, normally a lock, play at number eight instead. He's played there for Old Glory before, and this could be a sign that the team wants to use him more in the back row.
New scrumhalf signing Gardy Lebon, who made a surprise appearance in last week's match, will start the second half.
Not appearing for Old Glory
There are a few players who aren't on either of the rosters. Ramiro Herrera, the big signing at prop, is still not with the team yet. Hopefully he arrives before the season starts, but I wouldn't count on it.
Fintan Coleman, who played both halves last week, is curiously missing. Whether that's because of injury or if the coaches simply wanted to get a look at other player, I don't know.
John Lefevre was injured just before last week's game and will sit out this one as well. His injury is short term, with the team expecting him back in the next week or two.