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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Potential PRO Rugby Players: Club Edition

Earlier we looked at some of the U.S. capped or U.S.-eligible players playing overseas that might come back and play PRO Rugby and we looked at some of the potential coaching candidates. Today we thought we'd take a look at some of the top domestic club players that could come in and make an impact. To help us do that it's easier to look at different regions and competitions across the country.

Seattle: The Saracens have arguably been the top team in the country over the last few years. World Cup call-ups, injuries, and a couple of moves have taken their toll on the team this year but with the resources of ATAVUS available to the players they will still be a draw for younger players. The obvious candidates from the team to play PRO Rugby include Shalom Suniula, Matt Trouville, Ollie Kilifi and Tim Stanfill. The only complication is that both Suniula and Trouville work for ATAVUS who have lots of camps in the summer. It might be hard to ask your employer to take five to six months off when they have also been extremely supportive of your Eagles play.

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The list doesn't just end with the capped Eagles. Val Lee-Lo is an up and coming prop and could add depth to a side. Kellen Gordon is extremely underrated as a player and a great teammate. Mike Nelson and TC Elliott are also possibilities. Even with the constrictions you can bet that several of Seattle's players will end up in PRO Rugby.

PRP: As it stands (there will be some debate from the ARP) the PRP has the deepest reserve of players in the country at the moment. With at least two teams already based in California and one almost certainly headed for Denver it makes a lot of sense that many of the players in the competition will supply a lot of players. The top of the want list has to start with last year's leading try scorer Pila Huihui. He's been on the radar for the Eagles over the last year for good reason. He's strong, tall, and quick. Other players that seem like obvious choices include Max De Achaval, Logan Collins, Harry Bennett, Josh Williams, Keegan Engelbrecht, Colin Hawley, Dustin Muhn, James Muse, Brian Doyle, Ben Pinkelman, and Kalei Konrad (a breakout player of 2016?).

SFGG and Glendale alone have a whole host of players. At prop you have the likes of Nick Wallace and Patrick Latu. Zach Fenoglio is an automatic choice at hooker. Brendan Daly has put together a couple of solid years with SFGG while Mose Timoteo never seems to age. The backs similarly feature a number of players like Chad London, Dustin Croy, Samisoni Pone, Velney Rouse, and Tai Enosa. Another up and coming play to watch out for is Hanco Germishuys.

ARP: The ARP also has a whole host of potential players. Out of Boston you have the likes of Duran Vota and Richie Lobb. From NYAC you have capped Eagle Al McFarland but also Nate Brakeley, Justin Hundley, Troy Hall, and James Denise. NYAC has undergone a bit of change as some players have retired but they are expected to restock and are a natural funnel to PRO Rugby.

Old Blue also have a number of players worthy of consideration. It begins with Luke Hume. He's back from injury and playing well. During the last season he played out on the wing as well as at scrumhalf. His halfback partner James Bird will be a target for any team as well. The only thing holding him back is that he is not yet U.S.-eligible but some are already talking about him as contender for an Eagles shirt. Then there are the Northeast ODA crossovers such as Ryan Matyas, Rick Kirkland, Mike St. Claire, and Harry Higgins. At Life, you have David Gannon, Shaun Davies, Cornelius Dirksen, Lance Cavanaugh, and Demecus Beach.

DI: Stretching from coast to coast there are a lot of DI players under consideration as well. Metropolis has several players on the radar, including Lemoto Filikitonga, Jojo Tikoisuva, Veli Veamatahua, and Joel Yogerst. Kansas City has Ed Mills and Brodie Orth. In Chicago you have JP Eloff. Down in Austin, players like Chris Baumann, Brendan Rams, Zach Mizell, and Pat Sullivan could get drawn in.

The East and West Coast also have a number of players flying on the radar. The Life West Gladiators could see four or five players on a PRO Rugby team while it wouldn't be surprise to see members of the East Palo Alto Razorbacks as well. Rocky Gorge in the Mid-Atlantic could have a few players on rosters.

Overall, there is a lot of talent at the club level and most likely the bulk of the players in PRO Rugby for the first year will come from men's clubs.

Feel free to share in the comments who you think would make a good fit.


  1. you are also forgetting Russell Armstrong? Quality fly half for Seattle past few years. Ben Roach from Seattle Saracens/Serevi Selects - he had stints in europe and has been playing well. Shane Donovan has quick pace and speed as we have seen.

  2. Your problem with player is how they are selected. New Zealand had a system of Play club and get selected for province. Play province and you get selected to Super Rugby then super rugby to International.

    What's happening here is you're going from club and jumping straight to Professional. You have no buffer in between to check out player performance. Pacific Rugby Premiership and American Rugby Premiership need provincial competitions. That is where you will start seeing your Pro players. The selection needs more depth.

    1. There has never been regional competition. I agree that is a problem. There has always been a need to have a Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, Southwest competition. This way players could be brought up to play against other select players. However, we are at a point we can't work backwards to move forwards at this point in time.

  3. neil barret for for golden gate as good as any hooker in the country