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Rodriguez Signing Latest College Get For MLR Teams

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Rodriguez Signing Latest College Get For MLR Teams

Christian Rodriguez played for the Collegiate All Americans in 2019. David Barpal photo.

College and recent high school players are still signing and re-signing with Major League Rugby teams, and it's noticeable that the MLR rosters are getting more American by the week.

That may be a result of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also has to at least be partially because American players have shown themselves to be talented, hardworking, and willing to relocate and play for not very much money.

This week former Lindenwood standout Cristian Rodriguez signed with the Dallas Jackals. A scrumhalf-slash-wing player, Rodriguez will next be on the field for the Ohio Aviators in the World 10s Series in Bermuda. Rodriguez has become a rugby star after growing up in difficult circumstances in Southern California. He played for Hawaiian Gardens and rode his desire and talent to a place at Lindenwood University. He escaped a place where gangs and crime were a serious problem to become a respected professional athlete.

Rodriguez is one more American college and high school product in Major League Rugby. Since we at GRR cover college and high school extensively, we thought it would be worth taking a look at exactly who the players in Major League Rugby are who have been through the collegiate ranks.

Here's our list. We're probably missed someone who hasn't been announced yet, or someone who hasn't officially re-signed for 2021. At the same time, some of these players might not re-sign and are just on the rosters for 2020. It's all fluid. But this is still a useful snapshot of how the college and high school programs are doing in producing American pros.

Notes on this list: When we say someone is an Eagle it means they played for the USA 15s squad in 2019. If we say "capped" it means the players played 15s of 7s for the USA at some point. Bolded players were signed for the first time this year. And a drafted player is listed whether he has officially signed or not:

Austin Gilgronis

Luis Sitama (AIC Center, Budd Bay U19s. Drafted #4)
Mason Koch (Dartmouth captain, Iowa City West. Drafted #16)

Michael de Waal (Recent Lindenwood grad, two-time 15s MVP, two-time All American)
Christian Ostberg (former USA U20 captain, was playing in France)
Will Magie (former USA U20 captain, longtime Eagle)
Cameron Dodson (2020 Grand Canyon Grad. Touted as top draft pick but weirdness left him undrafted. Signed as a free agent)
Dom Bailey (former Davenport standout)
Larome White (former Louisville standout)
Rodrick Waters (played at Western State in Colorado)
Mason Pedersen (former standout at Arizona and with USA U20s)
Zinzan Elan-Puttick (former Arkansas State All American) 

Rugby ATL

Mike Matarazzo (Notre Dame All American. Drafted #8)
John Scotti (Arkansas State standout. Daytona Beach. Drafted #20) 

Jason Damm (former Clemson standout)
Vili Helu (Saint Mary’s All American, graduated in 2019; Danville Oaks)
Harry Higgins (former Arkansas State standout)
Paris Hollis (former Life University standout)
Maciu Koroi (recent Life University grad)
Alex Maughan (former Life University captain and All American)
Julian Montes (recent Life University grad)
Chance Wenglewski (capped Eagle from Lindenwood University; College and HS All American)

(Word was GCU prop Lincoln Si'i was to sign with Rugby ATL and he has, as an academy player) 

Dallas Jackals

Cristian Rodriguez (former Lindenwood 7s and 15s All American; Hawaiian Gardens)
Tommy Clark (AIC Scholz Award finalist; Budd Bay. Drafted #9)
Levi Van Lanen (WIsconsin-Whitewater standout; Pulaski HS. Drafted #13)
Conner Mooneyham (Life University All American; Woodlands. Drafted #1)
Bronson Teles (Scholz Award nominee for Arizona; Katy Barbarians. Drafted #21)
Kareem Odeh (Life University All American; Brunswick HS)

Skyler Adams (former AIC standout; Colorado Springs)
Chad Gough (University of Utah All American; Chad Gough)
Kody O’Neil (Reynold HS, Oregon standout before moving to NZ)
Ryan James (Cathedral Catholic HS All American)
Campbell Johnstone (West Carroll HS, HS All Americans)

Houston

Joe Kelly (Former Penn State and Greenwich HS standout)
Valdemar Lee-Lo (Former HS All American and USA U20 from Dixon HS)
Tim Stanfill (All American from Central Washington;  Vancouver HS)
Jake Christmann (Standout for Royal Irish)

Los Angeles

Watson Filikitonga (Iona Scholz Award nominee. San Mateo. Drafted #14)
Stephen McLeish (Lindenwood Scholz Award nominee. Hamilton Southeast. Drafted #22)

New England

Justin Johnson (Life University All American; Mira Costa HS. Drafted #6)
Spencer Kreuger (Ohio State standout. Arlington Stallions. Drafted #18)
Nick Hryekewicz (Saint Mary’s hooker. Sacramento Eagles U19s. Signed as undrafted free agent) 
Tom Brusati (Saint Mary's scrumhalf. Signed as undrafted free agent)
Jack Miller (Colorado standout. Brookline HS. Signed as undrafted free agent)

Tadhg Leader (Lindenwood standout, capped by USA)
Evan Geist (Colorado State standout. SWARM Rugby.)
Kyle Ciquera (St. Bonaventure All American. Bishop Hendricken.)
Deion Mikesell (Lindenwood University All American; SE Polk HS. In France right now)
Tony Purpura (University of Maine. Capped)
Mitch Wilson (Scholz Award nominee for Life University and All American)
Sean Yacoubian (Saint Mary's All American)

NOLA

Brian Nault (Central Washington Scholz Award nominee; Shelton HS. Drafted #2)
Andrew Guerra (Notre Dame College All American. Mount Carmel HS. Drafted #10)
Kyle Rogers (Arizona captain. Granite Bay. Signed as undrafted free agent)

Ross Depperschmidt (Standout for Alabama)
Cam Dolan (Life University All American. USA U19s, U20s, Naples HS. Eagle)
JP Eloff (Davenport All American. Capped)
Cameron Falcon (LSU All American, Archbishop Shaw HS All American, USA U20. Capped)
Nick Feakes (Previous Scholz Award nominee for Lindenwood)
Matthew Harmon (Life University standout)
Tabo Maree (Former Arkansas State All American)
Tim Maupin (All American for Saint Mary’s; De La Salle. Eagle)
Malcolm May (Penn State All American. HS All American. Brother Rice.)
Kevin O’Connor (All American for Saint Mary’s)
Ben Tarr (Former USA U20. Capped)
Kevin Sullivan (Cal All American. PRevious Scholz Award Finalist. SFGG. HS All American.)
Joeli Tikoisuva (USA U17s, HS All Americans, Youth Olympics)
Tesmoni Tongauiha (Santa Barbara Rugby Academy, Life West, Oakland Warthogs)
Cam Troxler (Former LSU captain. Archbishop Shaw)
William Waguespack (New Orleans Jesuit)
Dino Waldren (Saint Mary’s All American; De La Salle. Capped)
Holden Yungert (Saint Mary’s All American; Petaluma)

Old Glory DC

Casey Renaud (Standout Kutztown lock; Burlington HS Drafted #11)
Matt Gordon (Mary Washington All American No. 8. Drafted #23)

Thretton Palamo (Utah All American; SFGG U19s. Eagle)
Mike Dabulas (Penn State standout; Union County Mudturtles)
David Beach (Notre Dame College standout)
Jack Iscaro (Cal All American; Gonzaga HS)
Mo Katz (James Madison All American)
Sean Hartig (Mount St. Mary's captain. DeMatha Catholic HS)
Will Vakalahi (Penn HS, USA U20s)

RUNY

Connor Buckley (Iona All American; Xavier HS. Undrafted free agent)
Rob Irimescu (Penn State All American; Xavier HS)
JP Aguirre (Lindenwood-Belleville standout)
Nate Brakeley (Dartmouth All American; St. John’s Prep. Eagle)
Jake Feury (Middlebury Captain; Delbarton HS)
Hanco Germishuys (Westside HS, HS All American, USA U20s. Eagle)
Troy Lockyear (Cal All American)
Alex MacDonald (The Citadel, Life University)
Chris Mattina (Delaware Captain, Xavier HS. USA 7s team)
Brian McKellar (Penn State prop)
Jonas Patrakopoulos (Royal Irish HS All American)
Mike Petri (Penn State All American, Xavier HS USA U19. Capped)
Michael St. Claire (Stony Brook wing/center)
Kyle Sumsion (BYU All American, United U19s. Capped)
Connor Wallace Sims (USA U20s)
Matt Wirken (Lindenwood lock. KC Jr. Blues)

San Diego Legion

Patrick Madden (Cal Poly All American, SD Young Aztecs/Coastal Dragons, HS All American. Drafted #12)
Cole Zarcone (Central Washington All American. Drafted #24)

Connor McManus (Fort Hunt HS, HS All Americans.)
Malon Al Jiboori (Lindenwood All American, Union HS. HS All American. Eagle)
Nate Augspurger (Minnesota All American, Southside HS. Eagle) 
Dylan Audsley (2016 Rudy Scholz Award winner for Saint Mary’s. All American. Scottsdale U19s. Eagle)
Maceo Brown (Grand Canyon University All American. Tempe U19s. 7s Eagle)
Siaosi Mahoni (East Palo Alto HS All American, USA U20s. Capped)
Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore U19s, USA U19s, U20s. Capped)
Pete Maclolm (Wheeling Jesuit All American, HS All American, USA U20s. Capped)
Ryan Matyas (Arizona All American, Tempe U19s. Capped)
Nathan Sylvia (Cal Poly All American)
Marcus Tupuola (Notre Dame College All American, South Bay/Belmont Shore. 7s Eagle)
Tevita Tameilau (Peninsula Green, HS All American, USA U20s. Eagle)
Psalm Wooching (University of Washington All American, Kona U19s HS All American. Capped)

Seattle

Aaron Matthews (Saint Mary’s Rudy Scholz Finalist, All American. Back Bay U19s. Drafted #5)
Nick Taylor (Lindenwood standout and Scholz Award nominee. Drafted #17)

Ben Cima (Maryland, Gonzaga HS HS All American, USA U20s. Capped)
Eric Duechle (Air Force Academy All American. TC Williams HS.)
Kellen Gordon (Central Washington All American. Redmond HS.)
Matt Brennan (Arizona State standout. Eastside Lions HS All American.)
Mike Shepherd (Indiana All American. Brownsburg HS All American.)
Scott Dean (Central Washington standout. Liberty Patriots USA U20s.)
Vili Toluta’u (Central Washington All American. Maui Warriors HS All American, USA U20s. Capped)

Utah

Derek Ellingson (Saint Mary’s All American. Drafted #3)
John Powers (Iona All American. Drafted #7)
Danny Giannascolli (Loyola Maryland. Drafted #15)
Elijah Hayes (Iowa Central CC Prop. Drafted #19)

Bailey Wilson (United U19s HS All American, USA U20s.)
James Vaifale (Tempe U19s, USA U20s)
Alex Tucci (West Texas A&M, Weston HS)
Dominik Toluono (Wasatch HS, Lowland HS.)
Jaggar Tauvao-Wall (Hunter HS)
Sione Tau-ataina (Utah Valley U/Weber State, West Valley Warriors)
Tyler Ringwood (Iona standout, Olympus HS)
Joe Pikula (BYU CAA Honorable Mention)
Mike Payne (BYU prop/hooker, Murrieta Valley HS)
Caleb Meyer (University of Utah All American)
Hynie Lea’aetoa (BYU All American, Eastside Tsunamis)
Charlie Hola (Red Mountain, HS All American)
Danny Christensen (University of Utah All American, Highland HS)
Michael Baska (Lindenwood All American)
Gannon Moore (Sioux Falls HS. Capped)
Huluholo Mo’ungaloa (Saint Mary’s, Life West. Capped)
Calvin Whiting (BYU All American, United U19s HS All American, USA U20s. Capped)
Josh Whippy (BYU All American, United U19s. Capped)
Jared Whippy (BYU All American, United U19s.)
Kenny Scott (Kansas State)
Angus MaClellan (Davenport All American, Traverse City Alliance, USA U20s. Capped)
Tonata Lauti (University of Utah All American, Highland HS)
Matt Jensen (BYU All American, Highland HS. Capped)
Arawa Elkington (BYU All American)
John Cullen (University of Utah All American, Hacienda Heights HS. Capped)