By Liam Madigan-Fried
While much attention has been paid to the recent developments inside the city of Houston, MLR fans will be excited to know that there is more preseason action ready to get underway just a few hours eastward on I-10.
This Saturday, Coach Osborne’s NOLA Gold will take on some of the best the mid-Atlantic conference has to offer with the Capital Selects side in their first exhibition match of the season. Although the team has made some major signings over the past couple of months, it will be interesting to finally see how they come together and operate as a unit.
Two of NOLA’s most excitable players include capped Eagles Ben Tarr and J.P Eloff. Tarr broke out onto the USA Rugby scene in 2014 as a Select team candidate himself during the USA’s run in the ARC Developmental Tournament. He made his debut for the Eagles later that year against Romania.
Meanwhile, Eloff (younger brother of capped-Eagle Phillip Eloff), will hopefully ignite a spark in the backline to help them get going early against a stout defensive front. As fullback, Eloff will need to exhibit some great leadership skills from the bak to ensure his wings get moving quickly and fluidly.
Tarr will hopefully provide that veteran presence in the scrum to ensure NOLA maintains possession. And he will definitely have some help in the form of Hubert Buydens later in the season (EDIT: I originally listed Buydens as active for Saturday, he's not. Ooops. Bruh is training in Canada), who if you don’t remember him, was an absolute FORCE of a loose-head Prop during the PRO days, and he’s made many a USA Rugby fan groan with his punishing runs playing for the Canadian National team. However, If they can’t come through in the scrum, well…
John Brown of the Selects will be there. The Rocky Gorge 8-Man is built with a POWERFUL pair of legs that he can use to provide that extra push from the backside of the scrum and rucks, but he can also make opponents pay by leaving them in the dust. An early September MAC Championship rematch against the Pittsburgh Harlequins saw Brown score two tries on his team’s way to a 49-28 victory. A repeat of this performance could prove to be disastrous for NOLA should they allow it to happen.
Brown isn’t the only player NOLA will be hoping to keep under control, as the Selects have come with own fusion of youth and explosion in the form of CJ Burnes, a Wing/Center from the University of West Virginia who has proven to be quick within the trenches and capable of turning on the burners at any point. He’s not just a runner, however. This kid will be more than ready to lay somebody out when the time comes.
In the end, if NOLA hopes to come away with the victory, they are going to have to heavily rely on the vets of their team to navigate this game and keep it at a manageable pace. If the game speeds up too much, the lack of chemistry (a result of this team only being together a few months) could cause the play to become sloppy and eventually downright awful, allowing the more familiar-with-one-another Capital Select side to take advantage.
Capital Selects: 23
No matter what, I think this game is going to get sloppy. There’s a ton of new and young players who are going to be really unfamiliar/taken aback by the professional speed of play, and the lack of time spent playing actual games together will have an effect. However, NOLA has Coach Osborne game planning for Saturday, which nothing against Coach Moore for the Selects, but…yeah. NOLA gets this by a hair on the strength of their scrum and a few winger-splash plays in the second half.
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Penguin Tundra Sports Blog was created in 2016 by a very bored college student who was obsessed with Rugby and Football. That same college student knew how to write pseudo-intelligently, so what better way to show off than to create a blog. Along your journey though the Tundra's domain, you may come across outlandish opinions, horrible spelling errors, and some shit that is just outright wrong. Well then, you should comment, give my blog more attention, and we will have our day in internet court. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy talking about sports as much as I do.
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