Old Glory DC: on the Same Page
After an opening day 46-13 loss to NOLA, not many would have anticipated that Old Glory DC would go four games unbeaten from that point forward. After that result in Louisiana, Andrew Douglas' side went straight home and got their first ever win.
Beating Seattle 28-22 at Cardinal Stadium, in front of a full crowd, the side went from strength to strength. From then on the wins kept rolling in with victories over the Houston SaberCats, Austin Gilgronis and Rugby ATL meaning that Old Glory would be placed third overall and second in the Eastern Conference.
Canadian international Doug Fraser joined the team following a spell with Austin, the back even scoring the team's first ever try. Fraser says that the loss was extremely humbling for a side that had prepared perfectly for league action with preseason wins over Navy and Rugby ATL.
"The first game was pretty funny," Fraser said. "We got absolutely walloped and quite honestly, I think winning both of our preseason matches, maybe had us a bit overconfident going into NOLA. I don't know what it was, but we just didn't have it that day. We had to take a hard look in the mirror, re-evaluate and kind of say; this is not going to be a walkthrough.
"In every game you have got to go out and compete. That is how we changed. I think it is a blessing that NOLA thumped us because it changed our whole year. Our next four games, I think we were on the right path. I thought we were creating something pretty special there, it's just kind of too bad it was taken away from us."
Whilst South Africa legend Tendai Mtawarira might have taken the headlines worldwide, it was the sides backline that really made them tick. Forward Jack Iscaro was injured in the exhibition games for 2020s short-lived campaign but watched from afar as his teammates produced dominant performances on the field.
"I think you didn't have to watch too many of our games to see how well our backline performed," Iscaro said. "The scrumhalf, flyhalf combo of Danny Tusitala and Jason Robertson was probably up there with anybody with the league, if not leading the charge.
"Then, just with the finishers on the outside with Renata Roberts-Tenana, Declan O'Donnell and Dylan Taikato-Simpson, really you could go through the entire backline and I think the way they play with the flair, the speed, it was tough for teams to hang with."
In just five games, New Zealander Jason Robertson gathered 67 points, leaving him as Major League Rugby's top points scorer after five games. It was his kicking that guided DC to their four wins and his connection with Samoan international scrumhalf Tusitala was huge for the team.
Iscaro's preparation for 2020 was certainly unique. Having grown up in DC, Iscaro represented the hugely successful high school rugby side Gonzaga College High School. After that, he carried on his rugby journey with another top-class rugby program, this time on the west coast at the University of California, Berkeley.
Thanks to Old Glory being part-owned by Scottish Rugby, Iscaro signed a training contract with Pro14 side Glasgow Warriors. His time in west Scotland was spent learning the ropes of professional rugby with seasoned internationals and seasoned club players.
"I went into it prepared to be the guy making the most mistakes, just ask as many questions," Iscaro said. "I knew why I was there and that was to learn. I was happy to take on that role and luckily the team, the players and the coached couldn't have been more supportive, patient and helpful with me. There was certainly a lot to learn.
"It was kind of a dream come true to get to train day in, day out with a top caliber team. I went from watching these guys on the TV just a few months prior, to getting a chance to play with some of the big names that you watch in the Six Nations. It was unbelievable for me."
Having been so impressive in four of the five games we got to see in 2020, Old Glory already have their sights set on 2021. Not even having had the opportunity to play leaders of the East, Toronto, Fraser believes that DC have already shown they are a good side and need to replicate their form from earlier this year to achieve.
"The goal is to make the playoffs and then from there, it is anyone's game, same with any other sport," Fraser said. "That's kind of where our head is at. I think we showed that we can do that, I think we showed that we are at a level where we can compete with those teams in the East and the West.
"I don't think there is any reason for us not to be looking at either winning the Eastern conference at the very least. A lot of guys are on that same page and that was and is our mentality."
Both Fraser and Iscaro have been announced as returning for the 2021 season, with plenty more player signings and re-signings yet to be announced.
Learn more about Old Glory DC by visiting their official website or following them on social media.
Written by Joe Harvey
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Major League Rugby Stories from September 2, 2020
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