Major League Rugby Pre-Season First XV
Aaron Castro, League Correspondent
- Loosehead Prop, Blake Rogers (Glendale Raptors) – Blake attended Jesuit High School in Sacramento before attending the University of Colorado. While at Colorado, he anchored the blind-side of the scrum, contending for Junior and Senior All-American honors.
- Hooker, Eric Howard (NOLA Gold) – Les Rouges #425 Eric can be as dynamic as any hooker in Major League rugby this season. As a college senior, he earned the Ontario University Association MVP honors while leading the Guelph Gryphons to a provincial Championship. Earning his first cap for Canada in February 2016, he has added eleven since then playing behind the grizzled veteran Raymondo Barkwill.
- Tighthead Prop, Mason Pedersen (Austin Elite)- Mason is a veteran of the National Championship Winning Huns side from 2017. He attended the University of Arizona where he went on to earn Junior and Senior Collegiate All-American Honors. In 2016 he represented the United States on three separate tours at tighthead Prop: first with the Junior All-Americans in Zimbabwe for the Junior World Trophy, then the All-Americans in Australia. Finally, the USA Selects during the Americas Pacific Challenge.
- Left Lock, Ben Mitchell (Austin Elite) – Ben is an import from Ireland, having first learned the game when he was six, playing for Youghal RFC. He played for UCC’s First XV in the All-Ireland League from 2013-2017. He also played for the Gentlemen of Aspen during the 2016 and 2017 Rocky Mountain Summer League.
- Right Lock, Charlie Hewitt (Houston SaberCats) – Charlie was a U17 and U18 England Age Grade player. He served as the captain for the England U18s squad. Following his time with the Exeter Academy, he played for Cardiff Metropolitan University in the top division of the British Universities and Colleges Sport rugby. His time at Cardiff Met earned him a spot again on a Senior Academy Squad with Worcester where he made his Premiership debut.
- Blind Side Flanker, Kyle Sumsion (Houston SaberCats) – Kyle is USA Eagle #450. While at BYU he became a four time National Champion, earning All-American Honorable mentions in 2009 and 2012 and achieving call ups to the All-Americans in 2013 and 2014. He broke into the Eagles squad in 2014, earning his first cap against Uruguay during 2015 rugby World Cup qualifiers. Kyle leads the SaberCats as their captain and will return to Eagles contention during the 2018 MLR Season.
- Open Side Flanker, Hanco Germishuys (Austin Elite)- Hanco is USA Eagle #489. Moving to the US from South Africa when he was 12, he played rugby in Nebraska. He was was a four year High School All-American, a U20 and senior All-American Selection. As a young flanker he’s shown the rugby knowledge and skills of a player in the midst of his professional prime, especially during 2017 National Championship with the Austin Huns and the 2018 Americas rugby Championship.
- No 8., Cam Dolan (San Diego Legion) – Dolan is USA Eagle #443. An All American at Life University, he broke out onto the Eagles in 2013 and since his debut he has amassed 34 Caps. He parlayed his debut into a two year contract with Northampton Saints and subsequently spent two years with the Cardiff Blues, appearing in 20 matches alongside fellow Eagle and Cardiff Captain Blaine Scully. Dolan is a giant enforcer in the back row, and one of the best lineout jumpers in the MLR.
- Scrum-Half, Shaun Davies (Glendale Raptors) – Shaun Davies is USA Eagle #432, he was two time National Champion and four time All-American at BYU. He brings tremendous knowledge to the game having grown up playing rugby in his native South Africa. Off the 2012 National Championship, he caught the eye of former Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin earning his first cap against Georgia . At the breakdown he always puts the ball into the hands of the receiver, whether they are a forward on a pick and go or into the hands of his fellow Glendale Raptors and Eagles teammate Will Magie.
- Fly-Half, Timothée Guillimin (Austin Elite) – As the starting fly-half for the Austin Huns National Championship team, Timothée looks to show off his high rugby IQ again in the inaugural season of Major League rugby. Having played at a highest level in Europe as a French U16 and U18 Age Grade player, he received the opportunity to play for Sporting Union Agenais in the European Challenge Cup.
- Blind Side Wing, Mat Turner (Seattle Seawolves) – Mat is a South African native coming up through the Western Province Age-Grade system. He attended University of Cape Town where he played in the Varsity Cup, catching eye of Bristol. Being eligible for England during his time at Bristol, he was selected to England 7s where he went on to Captain for several seasons on the HSBC 7s World Series.
- Inside Center, Paul Lasike (Utah Warriors) – Paul is USA Eagle #524. He was a Four-Time National Champion and All-American rugby Player at BYU. He parlayed that success into a practice squad contract with the Arizona Cardinals and eventually played 10 games for the Chicago Bears at Full-Back in 2016. During the Americas rugby Championship he made his thunderous debut for the USA Eagles off the bench against Chile.
- Outside Center, Osea Kolinisau (Houston SaberCats) – Osea is the Gold Medal Captain of the 2016 Rio Champion Flying Fijian 7s side. Kolinisau is known for his field generalship on the pitch as a 7s player — as the Fijian $7 note has his likeness on it for what he’s done for rugby. With the SaberCats, he brings technical passing skills that will be unmatched by any other center in the MLR this season. He knows the precise moment when to keep the ball and lower his shoulder to break tackles for a try.
- Openside Wing, Takudza “Zee” Ngwenya (San Diego Legion) – Zee is USA Eagle #381. He started playing rugby during High School in Zimbabwe. After graduating he immigrated to the United States where he played with the Plano and Dallas Athletic rugby Clubs. He broke out onto the international scene first with the USA 7s in 2006 and then earning his first cap against England in the 2007 World Cup.He parlayed that World Cup experience into a nine year career with Biarritz appearing in 239 matches scoring 68 tries. Known for his fast pace off the wing, he’ll bring an open field threat to San Diego’s back-line that will be hard to stop.
- Fullback, Jean-Pierre Eloff (NOLA Gold) – JP is USA Eagle #477. Another South African transplant to the United States, he is the younger brother of USA Eagle #209 Phillip Eloff. While attending Davenport University he became a D1AA National Champion as a Freshman. That same year he earned Junior-All American and Player of the Year honors by rugby Today. JP Played for the defunct Ohio Aviators and has proved an excellent goal kicker for both NOLA and his former Club, the Chicago Lions.
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