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Anthem Roster and Their Backgrounds

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Anthem Roster and Their Backgrounds

Josh Setler, University of Tennessee and now with Anthem. Will Fagan photo.

The Anthem RC MLR team and USA pathway team named its roster his past week.

At GRR what we're looking at is where these players played in high school and college. Two of the players are capped, one in 15s (Jake Turnbull), and one in 7s (David Still). Eight players are no USA-eligible—these are payers who have major professional experience outside the USA as well as in Major League Rugby. All are relatively young (in their 20s) and among them are three flyhalves, a hooker, a prop, a fullback, and two fullbacks.

The USA-eligible players include some who clearly weren't getting the playing time they wanted or needed and were traded. Others are on loan from their MLR clubs, which is a tactic used in European sports teams whereby a player gets playing time with someone else but is technically still with his original team. Fourteen of the 38 players played HS rugby in the USA; 18 played collegiate rugby in the USA. Of those that didn't play collegiate rugby, most just went directly into a professional setup.

We don't have all of the reasons a player is USA-eligible, but we know most of them. By far the biggest reason in being born in the USA (at least 19 of the players). Then it's either residency or having an American parent but growing up overseas.

This is definitely a young roster and brings in some players who have been a little bit in the high-performance wilderness, along with some who have spent at least some time playing football at a serious level. 


Player Position Notes
Albert O’Shannessey Flanker Learned his rugby in New Zealand and played at Central Washington and also the now-defunct New York Ironworkers. He is expecting to be USA-eligible based on residency in 2025.
Cael Hodgeson Center / Wing From England (Wolverhampton), Hodgeson was a standout for Lindenwood. He has played for the USA Selects and was drafted by the Dallas Jackals before moving to the NOLA Gold in MLR, joining Anthem via trade. He qualifies for the USA his American mother.
Caleb Strum Wing Strum was a standout for Alabama and helped them win the LAI college bracket. The Virginia native has played all over in club rugby and within the MLR sphere (Austin, Chicago).
Carson Shoemaker Flanker / No. 8 Spotlighted by GRR in 2020 here>> He played for Arrowhead as a high schooler, was a USA U20 while at Arizona State, and played with Eagle Impact Rugby Academy. 
Chase Suznevich Flyhalf/Utility Union County North Carolina in HS, and then Queens University. See more on Suznevich from GRR>>
Cliven Loubser Flyhalf A Utah Warrior from Namibia. One of the non-USA-eligible players on Anthem.
Connor Robinson No. 8 St. John's Prep and Mystic River in HS, and then Boston College, where he was a try-scoring sensation as a hooker and No. 8. See our spotlight on him from 2020>>
Dan Hanson Prop A powerful prop (lock?) at Louisville and for Panther Rugby Academy U23s. Chicago Hounds Academy. From Kentucky. More on Hanson here>> ... and here>>
David Still Center / Wing Crossover through Glendale's XO Academy. Then was a standout for the USA Sevens and looked poised to be a star with them.Then he left the 7s program to try his hand at football. Big, powerful, fast, and now trying his hand at 15s. Video interview here>>
Declan Moore Hooker Another non-USA-eligible player. Born in New Zealand. Grew up in Australia. Played for three Irish provincial teams. 
Dylan Fortune No. 8 Top player for Cathedral Catholic in SoCal and then on to Lindenwood. Players for the USA U20s. More on him here>>
Lindenwood Univ. / USA U20s
Ivan Pula Prop Star No. 8 and prop for Budd Bay in Washington as a high-schooler, and then for Central Washington. Players for USA Hawks and the New England Free Jacks.
Jack Manzo Hooker Star player for Xavier HS in New York and then for Cal, always at hooker. D1A All American. Played with American Raptors. Drafted by Old Glory. 
Jake Turnbull Prop Already capped by the USA in 15s. Houston, Austin, and then Seattle in MLR. Originally from Australia but has been in the USA for at least six years.
James Rivers Lock From UK and Hong Kong, and not USA-eligible at the moment. Standout and captain for Arizona. Drafted by the San Diego Legion.
Joe Apikotoa Prop From New Zealand. Not USA-eligible. Played in Super Rugby.
Joe Basser Flanker USA-eligible because he was born in the USA but grew up in Australia and played there through university. Signed with New York Ironworkers in 2022.
Josh Shetler Backrow Captain and center/fullback for University of Tennessee (but listed as a back-rower for the Anthem. GRR reported on him frequently as a standout for the Volunteers.
Juan Montes Fly-Half/Fullback Argentinian and not USA-eligible (Correction. Born in New Jersey, thanks Doug Coil
Juan Pen Prop Huge forward presence for St. Ignatius (Cleveland) in HS and then St. Bonaventure. Drafted this past summer by the Chicago Hounds. Traded by Chicago to Anthem for salary cap room.
Junior Gafa Center Was a football player for Brown and also probably Brown's best back in rugby. Played at JSerra in HS. Drafted by the New England Free Jacks and now on loan to Anthem.
Logan Weidner Lock Canadian as well as American—played for British Columbia age-grade teams but then played for both the USA U20s and Canadian U20s in different assemblies. Played professionally in France and then signed with Old Glory. 
Lucas Gramlick Lock Played rugby at UCLA. Formerly with American Raptors and then USA Hawks. 
Mateo Gadsden Wing Was an age-grade standout in various select sides (HS All Americans, EIRA). Played all over, including Back Bay U19s, Colorado Raptors, and remained in Colorado for a while. Impression is he stuck with the game for the love of it despite fewer higher-level opportunities as he entered his 20s. 
Michael Maafu No. 8 Played rugby in Tonga. Accomplished as a football player but also played rugby as a high-schooler for Tempe in Arizona. San Diego Legion Academy. Older brother Nafi plays professional rugby in France.
Mika Felix Prop Played for Austin and Chicago in MLR. From New Zealand but played for USA U20s and USA Falcons. USA eligible. Traded by Chicago to Anthem for salary cap room.
Oscar Koller Flyhalf North Harbour player in New Zealand. Not USA-eligible.
Reagan Leslie Lock Played for Utah Warriors but is Australia and not USA-eligible.
Rheno Teoni Scrumhalf Played for USA U20s and USA Hawks.
Sean Yacoubian Scrumhalf From Scotland but then became All American for Saint Mary's. Outstanding goalkicker. Played for Colorado Raptors, Free Jacks, and Chicago Hounds. USA-eligible due to residency.
Shane Barry Flyhalf Eagle Impact Rugby Academy as a young teenager and then UCLA. Then drafted by Seattle Seawolves. USA Selects. USA Hawks, Collegiate All Americans. USA-eligible.
Shneil Singh Flanker From New Zealand and not USA-eligible.
Sione Latu Jr. Flanker Played HS in Utah. 
Stephan Bernal-Wendt Prop Played rugby for the St. Francis team in Hawaii. Played football in college and then rugby with the Utah Warriors.
Te Rangatira Waitokia Wing / Fullback From New Zealand and played for Manawatu and Rugby ATL. Signed with Toronto but that team folded so hooked on with Anthem. Not USA-eligible.
Tevita Kutu Flanker Played for the Bullmoose in NY in HS. Rhinos select side, USA U18s 7s, and USA Hawks.
Ty Al-Jiboori Wing Played for Union HS in Oklahoma and then on to Lindenwood, where he was an All American. Drafted by Seattle Seawolves and now traded to Anthem for salary cap room.
Ulu Niuputuivaha Wing Picked up by USA U23 7s for RugbyTown.
Braemar Murray Flanker Very young. Was in Toulouse Academy and played for USA U20s. Grew up in England and played in the Newcastle Falcons Academy. Picked up in MLR folded-teams dispersal draft.