Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PRO Rugby Positional Breakdown: Lock & Back-row

With the PRO Rugby season fast approaching we're looking at each of the five rosters and comparing and contrasting players at various positions. Yesterday we looked at the prop and hooker positions and today we turn our attention to lock and the back-row.

Like the props yesterday, the back-row should be a position of strength for the competition. The U.S. has been producing a lot of solid players in those positions recently and the league has supplemented that with a few imports. Lock is a different story. While the Eagles have had some depth at the position most of those players have played overseas. As is reflected in the rosters as they stand now it's not the deepest of positions at the domestic level. That should come with the standard disclaimer that rosters are still going to chance ahead of opening day but it's still something to keep an eye on.

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Overall, Denver looks to have some of the best depth in the competition in both the locks and the back-row. Ben Landry and Brodie Orth were a solid combination during the ARC becoming the top choice pairing. If they can continue their chemistry they should be able to click early. Casey Rock is also there and has been in the Eagles pool in the past. 

The back-row looks solid as well. Even though Hanco Germishuys is going to miss time for the Junior World Rugby Trophy and may be moved to hooker he's a great option. He's bounced around in some professional settings gaining experience for the last year and this is going to be his time to shine. He'll also be mentored by Pedrie Wannenburg. The South African brings the most caps of any Tier I player to the competition outside of Mirco Bergamasco and Mils Muliaina. Gannon Moore from the Kansas City Blues has a lot of fans while Logan Collins from the Barbarians does a lot of dirty work. Peter Dahl has also been very good for Glendale since moving to Colorado.

Lock: Ben Landry, Brodie Orth, Casey Rock
Back-row: Hanco Germishuys, Zac Pauga, Pedrie Wannenburg, Gannon Moore, Logan Collins, Peter Dahl

Ohio are similarly going to have strength in the back-row and they have two experienced players in the locks. Canadian Kyle Baillie and Nick Civetta should be the first choice locks from day one. Baillie only gained his first cap for Canada during the ARC but impressed. Civetta has been playing in Italy the last couple of years. That overseas experience should be helpful in settling the team down. 

In the back-row we're looking at Pierce Dargan to potentially be a breakout player. The former Junior All-American spent most of his career with Trinity in Ireland even playing for Leinster 'A' on occasion. A break in his studies has allowed him to play in the tournament and we think that his overall rugby IQ is what is going to put him over the top. Filippo Ferrarini has international experience while Spike Davis was impressive with the Falcons in Vegas. How that 7s skill translates into full-time pro duties is still a question. Chad Joseph from the Dallas Reds has people talking while Sebastian Kalm and Peter Malcolm are two college standouts. However, they may not be joining the team until their college seasons are finished. 

Lock: Justin Allen, Kyle Baillie, Nick Civetta
Back-row: Pierce Dargan, Spike Davis, Filippo Ferrarini, Chad Joseph, Sebastian Kalm, Peter Malcom, Dom Pezzutti

Sacramento are going to be using plenty of local talent along with a few key imports. Sione Sina was a starter at Cal and brings bite. Robert Meeson and James Reddey are the two other locks listed on the roster. One of them is going to have to step up into a starting role barring a new player coming into the picture. 

The back-row has the potential to be one of the best in the competition. Both John Quill and Kyle Sumsion have had their bright moments with the Eagles. Quill especially has been a very useful player over the last few years. Sumsion took a break to focus on school and his family but he's back and ready to go. It wouldn't be a shock to see either of those players on the Eagles in the future. Ryan Koewler is the only other player on the back-row at the moment but given the level of depth in Northern California there will be others ready to play. 

Lock: Robert Meeson, James Reddey, Sione Sina
Back-row: Ryan Koewler, John Quill, Kyle Sumsion

San Diego is currently looking thin in both the locks and the back-row in terms of announced players. However, from what we understand OMBAC players Brian Doyle, Tai Tuisamoa, and Tim Barford will all be on the team. That should add some much needed depth. Doyle and Tuisamoa could easily be the starting lock combination with Barford pairing with Chilean Nikola Bursic and Jabari Zuberi. Still, given the amount of talent on San Diego in other part of the field this area does standout as a weakness. 

Lock: Brian Doyle, Tai Tuisamoa
Back-row: Nikola Bursic, Jabari Zuberi, Tim Barford

San Francisco, like most of the other teams are going to have a lot of local talent in the mix. That's not a bad thing, especially when you are drawing from strong clubs like SFGG, Olympic Club, the EPA Razorbacks, and local college teams like Cal. Expect them to bring in more players when the college season comes to a close. Right now they have John Colvill and Siaosi Mahoni listed as locks.

In the back-row the team has David Tameilau, Alec Gletzer, and Sam Finau. There may not be a more powerful back-row in the competition. For us, Tameilau was the standout player of the ARC and even in matches when the Eagles looked lost he played with purpose. It could easily be the case that he is the breakout player of the initial PRO Rugby season as well. Gletzer has proven his worth over and over again with Cal, Olympic Club, and in a few brief moments with the Eagles. Sam Finau comes from the Auckland development system and is U.S.-eligible from what we understand. 

Lock: John Colvill, Siaosi Mahoni
Back-row: Sam Finau, Alec Gletzer, David Tameilau


  1. Mils Muliaina is the most capped player in the competition with 100 caps for the All Blacks. Mirco Bergamasco has 89 caps with Italy. Pedrie has 20 caps with the Springboks.

    "He'll also be mentored by Pedrie Wannenburg. The South African brings the most caps of any Tier I player to the competition outside of Mirco Bergamasco."