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All-Time American List: Joe Taufete'e

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All-Time American List: Joe Taufete'e

Joe Taufete'e on his way to scoring a superb try against Ireland in 2018. Colleen McCloskey photo.

Joe Taufete'e is somewhat unique in American rugby.

He emerged out of relative obscurity to not only become a starting Eagle, but a world record holder as well. Born in American Samoa and produced through the Belmont Shore youth program, Taufete'e was named to the 2015 Rugby World Cup squad before he was capped. It proved to be a good move by Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin as he got his first taste of international rugby in the toughest arena possible.

That trial by fire worked nicely, as Taufete'e quickly moved from being a newbie to a regular starter. And from there we found out a few things: he is very strong in the set piece, he's very tough, he's a good ballcarrier, and he wins the contact.

His emergence coincided with a period of good form for the USA, and fans also found that Taufete'e had a nose for the tryline. His ability to make tacklers bounce off him, and his understanding of the need to get low, put him in multiple scoring opportunities. Reacting to this, USA Head Coach Gary Gold was happy to make him the focus of the USA's attacking mauls. The result? He's the greatest try-scoring front-row forward in history.

He started his try-scoring against the likes of Chile and Brazil. But he has gone over for bigger fish than that. He burned Scotland for two in the USA's 29-28 win in 2018 in Houston. He scored four in four games against Canada. He scored three against Uruguay in 2019. 

In 27 test matches, 20 as a starter, he has 20 tries, surpassing Irish great Keith Wood for most by a hooker, and adding to that total. He was named a finalist for World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019.

We expect to see more from Joe T. The man who started playing rugby to impress his girlfriend found that rugby was the right game for him (and the girl was the right one, too; they're married). We're just along for the ride.

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