NOLA Gold makes lineup changes ahead of regular-season finale

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Kyle Baillie
Kyle Baillie and NOLA Gold look to win their regular season finale and guarantee a playoff berth Sunday night in San Diego.

As NOLA Gold Rugby looks to secure a playoff berth in its regular-season finale at the San Diego Legion Sunday night, head coach Nate Osborne has changed the look of his starting unit.

Matt Harmon and Ross Davies will start at prop, while Kyle Baillie and Billy Stewart get the nod at the two lock positions for Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. CDT kickoff against the first-place Legion, which will be televised by CST and ESPN+.

NOLA, which is part of a four-way tie for second place in Major League Rugby’s standings table, can ensure its place in the four-team Championship Series with a win. The Gold can possibly advance with either a draw or scoring sufficient bonus points.

NOLA and San Diego meet for the second time in four weeks. On May 11, the Legion came to Gold Stadium and left with a 26-19 victory to take over the top spot in MLR.

San Diego is the only team in the league to have clinched a playoff berth. It needs two points against NOLA to clinch the top seed in the MLR Championship Series.

NOLA’s second-ranked attack faces off against a San Diego defense ranked No. 1 in the league. The Legion concedes one try every 32.4 minutes and has allowed a league-low 286 points.

Tristan Blewett goes into the regular-season finale tied for second in MLR with 12 tries, one behind John Ryberg of Glendale and level with Dylan Fawsitt of Rugby United New York. The Gold’s Eric Howard is fourth in the league with nine tries.

JP Eloff, who has connected of 53 of 69 conversion attempts, is MLR’s third-leading scorer with 136 points.

Prior to Sunday night’s match, Gold fans will have an eye on Canada on Sunday afternoon when two of the other three teams in the second-place tie, RUNY and Toronto, face off. The other team in the deadlock, the Seattle Seawolves, kick off 30 minutes after the start of the Gold-Legion game against Austin.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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