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EIRA Player Spotlight - Devin Short

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EIRA Player Spotlight - Devin Short

Devin Short looks pretty ominous, and those in the know say he's got what it takes. Photo courtesy Killer Imaging -

One of the breakout players for the Boys HS All Americans this summer was a a young player who just a few short months ago had never played rugby.

This young man is Devin Short. And while many of the other players were from well-known HS programs, Short came from the relatively new program of the Las Vegas Black Hawks. Short, a No. 8 and sometime lock is a tall, athletic, smooth-running forward. At 6-3, he is an accomplished defensive end in football, who is slated to play football in college this coming fall. 

But rugby has taken hold in his heart, and you can see it by the way he plays.

“A friend of mine, Omri Nell, was a guy I knew from wrestling and he came up to me in class one day and said they’re starting a rugby team and I should come play,” Short told Goff Rugby Report. “Well I was playing football, and I said no. But he nagged me and nagged me so I said, OK, I’ll go out to practice. And I thought it was really cool.”

Pretty soon Short was taking charge of the Black Hawks forward effort, helping the team power through to a state title. 

“The team wasn’t big - we didn’t have a lot of players - and everybody there was new to the game, but everybody was really welcoming,” said Short. “Coach Leonard [Nell] taught us well. We learned the rules and the basics of how to play. We learned a lot from playing.”

But it wasn’t enough, and Short and some of his teammates started looking for more rugby, so Leonard Nell took some players to an Eagle Impact Rugby Academy session in Southern California to get them exposure to other coaches. They went three times, and after that, Short found other ways to go.

“I’d wake up at 5am on a Sunday morning and drive there for three hours and get there just in time,” Short explained. “And then we’d go to the beach for a while, and then go home. I got hooked really quick. Finding out how you could be hitting somebody on the field and talking trash and then after the game hug each other and eat together - I loved that. The camaraderie and how much of a gentlemen everybody is was something I really enjoyed.”

The enjoyment of the camaraderie led Short to attend those EIRA camps on a regular basis. He was selected to the EIRA SoCal team that won the Rocky Mountain Challenge, and stood out there, and within half a year he was on the HS All Americans, playing in British Columbia.

“Devin still has a lot to learn, but he’s a stud athlete,” said HSAA Head Coach Salty Thompson. “He’s a player to watch.”

“I told Salty and everybody else who will listen, Devin has a lot of athletic ability,” said Coach Leonard Nell. “He’s extremely coachable. He’s not arrogant saying ‘I’m going to do it my way.’ He learns fast, and he applies it on the field. He’ll try it out. If it doesn’t feel right, he will come to you and say ‘can we change it and adjust it? Or he might say ‘I have to apply myself to make it work.’”

Nell has used Short at a variety of positions. He’s been a No. 8, partly due to his size, but he has the speed to play wing or center, and Nell has used him there.

In NC, Thompson moved Short from No. 8 to lock, and it was another new experience for the high school senior. But he embraced it, and certainly could be a more versatile player as a result.

For now, this could all be the start of a great rugby journey. Short will be playing football this fall, but you also get the feeling with how he talks about the game and how quick he has embraced it, rugby will continue to be a part of his life going forward.