Friday, December 16, 2011

TIAR Awards: Youth Player of the Year, Maka Unufe

Unufe tackling and Canadian player at the Pan-Am Games

Our selection for Youth Player of the Year was an easy choice. This year Maka Unufe crowned himself the next best thing in U.S.A. Rugby after his sensational play with the Utah Warriors and the U.S.A. 7's team.

Unufe's rise has been nothing short of meteoric this year. Maka began the year playing with United (Utah) U-19 team. From there he had latched onto the Utah Warriors newly formed 7's team. Together with Ben Nichols and Mike Palefau, Maka and the Warriors tore up summer play winning tournament after tournament. While the Warriors may not have won the National Club 7's Championship, it wasn't due to Unufe's play.

After playing for the Warriors, Unufe found himself on the Pacific Coast Grizzlies roster for the National All-Star Championships. Much like the Warriors, the Grizzlies found themselves dominant at the tournament only to suffer one trip up that cost them the title. Due to his strong play, he was selected by Al Caravelli to be one of the players to stay for a try-out match after the tournament.

Maka played well enough at that tournament to eventually earn a spot in the camp preparing for the Pan-Am Games and to the surprise of some, Maka was included on the roster. Once the tournament started it was easy to see why Al Caravelli had chosen the youngster. Not only was he strong and quick, but he also showed rugby smarts beyond his years. His rise would have continued if commitments hadn't kept him from being selected for the first three tournaments of the IRB Sevens Series.

The future only look bright for Maka Unufe. At least he gets is started out well with This Is American Rugby's Youth Player of the Year Award.


  1. Very proud of you Maka... Now, get to work!!!

  2. Well done Maka! Great rugby ahead of you!

  3. A Star in The Making!

  4. This Kid has Mad Skills, seen him play on Thanksgiving, all i gotta say is, Best Talent ever seen from a Kid his age! Good job Maka

  5. Jake Spencer [Chicago]December 18, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    This is a great article. This kid is an awesome rugby player.
    I watched him play in the United vs Highland U19 Championship game at Rio Tinto for the first time earlier this year.
    Then out of nowhere saw him on the Utah Warriors Rugby team, where he was a phenomenon.
    Then again saw him on the roster for the USA Eagles.
    This kid played at three different levels of rugby in ONE YEAR.
    Congratulations Maka Unufe! Looking forward to watching you play for many years to come.

  6. Congrats to my boy Maka Unufe.

  7. way to go Cuzo!!