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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Potential PRO Rugby Players: U.S.-Eligibles Overseas Edition

PRO Rugby already has two teams announced in San Francisco and Sacramento with more on the way. After the teams are announced the coaches and administrators will be next. Then comes the players. With 30 players on each team and six teams that means the competition is going to need 180 players. 30 of those will likely be from overseas and not U.S. or Canada eligible still leaving 150 spots to fill. Even when you consider the domestic Eagles and Canadian pool that is a tall task. Over the next little while we'll talk about some of the players that could fill the gap. In this edition we'll look at some of the capped and U.S. and Canadian-eligible players overseas that could be potential players.

Thanks to the circumstances of both countries the U.S. and Canada have a number of players to choose from. There are a number of players playing at lower-levels that haven't been capped because of 1) ability/not in the visibility of coaching staffs or 2) they can't afford to leave their jobs to play international rugby. PRO Rugby could fix that. There would be no better place to get visibility than the competition and with a nice payday, it could be what they need to make the jump.

Take the jump to read more.
In terms of U.S.-eligible players there are a number in the United Kingdom and Ireland that could potentially work out. Ronnie McLean is the first name that comes to mind. He looked like he might break into the Eagles last November and is back playing in the National League 1. He's already made the move toward playing with the Eagles and now six months in the U.S. could put him over the top. Plus, PRO Rugby could be a step above the National League 1. Robbie Shaw is another option playing in that competition but as an older player would probably have to give up too much and be too much of a risk for a team. That said, he may be a veteran presence that teams need.

Other players that make good options include former Junior All-Americans Will Magie and Louis Mulholland. Magie gives teams an option at fly-half while Mulholland is on the Eagles radar right now.

Ireland has a whole host of candidates that could be lured over. Tim Maupin is capped and has been playing very well for Trinity scoring tries. That's seasoned him a lot and being from the Bay Area he could slide back into a San Francisco team with plenty of players he's familiar with. Kingsley McGowan is with Trinity at the moment and he's coming back. The only thing that might keep him out is the lure of 7s. Liam Murphy is also capped and has played in the States before in Boston. A return to the Northeast would make a lot of sense.

Pierce Dargan and Ross Deacon are two players that should be prime targets. Dargan is an animal and is thought highly of in a lot of circles. Playing PRO Rugby might be his first real opportunity to show American fans what he is all about. Deacon, who is seeing regular time with Lansdowne, is in a similar boat. Both forwards they are also the right age to be making the move. Conor Kearns from Trinity and Liam Bourke are two play-makers that teams could find useful and are also the right age. Gearoid McDonald played with the Eagles Select several years ago and has mostly disappeared since then but it might be worth having teams take a look at him.

Before folks get too carried away you can dismiss the notion that a player like Dave or Paddy Ryan or even Titi Lamositele will make the move. Dave Ryan makes too much money and plays at too high of a level with Agen. Lamositele would only make sense on a loan move if he isn't seeing much time, which doesn't seem to be a problem this year. At least in the beginning (probably for awhile), PRO Rugby is not an alternative for players wanting to playing in a competition like the Top 14, ITM Cup, or even the RFU Championship.

That said, players that are in the academies of teams in the competition could work and it might work out for their parent teams to loan them out. Victor Camptat is with the Toulon Academy and Mose Fualaau is with the Clermont Academy. Also in France, a veteran like Roland Suniula finishes his season in April and would be an ideal candidate as would Mate Moeakiola if a team could swing that. Christian Ostberg is trying to break in with Aurillac but playing time might help him, PRO Rugby, and his club.

Other players overseas that might work include Tom Coolican, crossover Kevin Reed (who has been with Manly and is a bit of a project but one that could pay off), Anthony Estrella, and Graham Harriman. Canadians that might fit the mold include Cam Pierce, Travis Larsen, Djustice Sears-Duru, and Richard Townsend.d

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