What Can Nate Osborne Accomplish in DC?

Old Glory’s new coach is focused on future success.

In a recent appearance on on Rugby Wrap Up, Osborne addressed his new position, noting that he felt the team was close while acknowledging the playoffs are out of reach. While Osborne was not technically in charge for DC’s near win in New York, he was in the coaches box as assistants discussed sliding Junior Sa’u to the wing. He was happy to experiment.

One thing of note is Osborne’s interim tag. He doesn’t seem to see it that way. The coach noted that he’s treating the role as permanent. He’ll focus on evaluating players and implementing things he’d like to bring to the full time role.

Osborne brings an intriguing background. He coached backs and attack under Mike Tolkein during the Eagles’ 2015 World Cup campaign. Recently capped Eagle Mike Dabulas could be one player to watch under a more attack oriented system, while Osborne specifically mentioned Danny Tusitala and Renata Roberts-Tenana as players he’s excited to work with.

One player to watch is Owen Sheehy. Andrew Douglas was pushing the youngster despite him not necessarily blowing anyone’s shoes off. (Certainly, that had nothing to do with the team owner sharing the same last name. Or the team sponsor.) Sheehy’s presence on the team remains a tough point. Focus on developing him would appease the owner, but it could dampen the mood in the changing room. Focus on building the best plan for the total team could produce better results, but indirectly disappoint the owner.

DC has a winnable run of fixtures coming up. After traveling north to Toronto, they’ll host a flailing Utah team and a drowning Dallas team. They’ll also visit Osborne’s old team in NOLA, host a Houston side that might be eliminated by then, and pay an extra visit to Toronto at the end of the year that could mean nothing of everything to the Arrows. Scrapping out 3 wins and a few bonus points could give Osborne a leg up in the job hunt.

One thing is working against Osborne. Instead of sacking Andrew Douglas earlier, DC is throwing in a new coach as it approaches its most winnable stretch. Instead of having time to ramp up, he’ll be thrown in at a time when the side has its best chance for results. DC’s second bye comes in Round 13. Expect to see more extensive changes after that.

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