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NOLA Gold Team Series

Like with all of our conversations with teams in Major League Rugby, we began ours with NOLA Gold early. My first conversation with General Manager Ryan Fitzgerald was in February. We talked a bit at length with a question I had regarding their home ground and plans, but then conversed about our times in the Marine Corps and Army respectively.  I had been told about Ryan by my colleague Gift Egbelu who said that he knew character and would recruit men of high character to New Orleans.  That part became pretty clear in our first conversation. And I love almost every conversation we have together. The team has been built on character and toughness, that may seem cliché, but the conversations I've had with Nathan Osborne, Eric Howard, and Holden Yungert show you that. 

Nate Osborne is another person I've come to hold in high regard; he's known for how tough his Metropolis RFC teams were. Sometimes they weren't the most talented, but they were mentally prepared and tough. That reputation recruited talent by itself in addition to the club making the decisions required to always push forward. That led to the development of players from Metropolis that are on multiple MLR teams this year.

Speaking with Eric Howard you notice the selection and signing of players with international experience. Great young player coming out of the Ontario University System leaving his final year as a champion and the MVP.  He's a dynamic player that will bring a good set of young leadership to the front row.

Finishing the team series I spoke with Holden Yungert who just graduated from St Mary's and was the starting scrum-half that won last year's D1A National Championship. You hear a lot about how people should be playing rugby from the age of 6 to become an elite level player. Not using Holden as an example against that theory, yet you see him only starting playing in high school, choosing the right school to develop under Tim O'Brien at St Mary's College that set him up to break out in his final year. In my opinion I believe he's the second best domestically available scrum-half in the United States and MLR will show that this year.

When it comes to the Gold, they're definitely a team to like!

Ryan Fitzgerald was appointed General Manager of New Orleans Gold in February of 2017 shortly after his tour with 2016 Senior Bowl Recruiting and Scouting. Following that early period he began pushing forward with a coaching search, player scouting and contracting for the new professional side that would begin their first season in Hope Haven in 2018 on the West Side of the Mississippi River. Ryan first began playing rugby in High School in Wisconsin and then joined the Marine Corps. During his time in the Marine Corps he continued to play rugby in between deployments to Iraq.  When he moved to New Orleans he played with New Orleans RFC. 

Nathan Osborne- Nathan grew up playing rugby outside of Canberra, playing Schoolboy Rugby at St Edmund's College. His father coached both rugby union and rugby league and he played both for his father. He would eventually break into the ACT Brumbies Academy playing professionally for them on their lower side at the turn of professionalism in the late 90s Came to the US one summer for a rugby sabbatical, eventually meeting his wife and did the things he needed to do to stay and become a resident. He moved to Minnesota where he played for and then coach Metropolis RFC in a highly successful run that earned him an appointment to the 2015 USA Eagles Rugby World Cup staff. Most recently appointed as the Head Coach for NOLA Gold Rugby.

Eric Howard, a recent graduate of Guelph University is a hooker from New Orleans Gold Rugby Club and Canada (#425), formerly of the Ontario ArrowsRugby Ontario Blues, the Brantford Harlequins Rugby Football Club, and the Guelph Gryphons. Talking about his rugby life and how he was recruited down to New Orleans for the first season in Major League Rugby.

Holden Yungert, a recent St Mary's College graduate and now NOLA Gold scrum-half. He's led a very competitive rugby life since picking up the egg in High School. A trip to the Shute Shield with Easts Rugby Club and the ACT Brumbies Academy. All-American Selection 1st XV Honoree and selection in the match against Oxford Blues. He helped lead the USA Selects this last summer in the Americas Pacific Challenge and is one of the top two scrum-halves currently residing in the US.

~Aaron Castro