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Shifting Tides For US Players Overseas

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Shifting Tides For US Players Overseas

With the retirement of Shaun Davies, Ruben de Haas looks to be the #1 scrumhalf for the USA at the moment. Ian Muir photo.

There seems to be a small migration of USA players from professional teams overseas back to the USA.

The move makes sense for some. With Major League Rugby still in its infancy, but expanding, a top-flight USA player can get paid to play rugby in his home country, would be much more likely to garner playing time, and would have a much easier time grabbing as additional job or starting a business. The same goes for the player's spouse or partner; she could be working too.

So it is that Ben Landry is back in the USA with New England, Tevita David Tameilau has left Glasgow for San Diego, and Mikey Sosene-Feagai moved from Auckland in New Zealand to Old Glory in DC.  Christian Osterberg has left Aurillac after four years there, and is expected to come back to the USA. Bryce Campbell has left London Irish.

Some of the players who have stayed overseas are USA-qualified but were born outside the US, or at least grew up overseas. Marcel Brache has been a bright spot for the Western Force in Super Rugby AU.

James Hilterbrand remains a key play for Manly in Sydney, New South Wales. Tony Lamborn, who, like Hilterbrand has retired from international duty, is now with the Blues in Auckland, NZ.

But the attraction to play overseas is still there. It's part of rugby's DNA to use the sport to travel the world, and see new things and new cultures. Not to mention the fact that overseas leagues are active, or about to be, which is not something we can say about MLR. Hooker/prop Kapeli Pifeleti spent a year with San Diego and is now back with Saracens, highlighting that world-traveler aspect.

Staying put overseas ar USA flyhalf AJ MacGinty at Sale, center Paul Lasike is still with Harlequins, and USA lock Greg Peterson at Newcastle. Both are set for the Gallagher Premiership to resume play in two weeks. (The following sentence contrains a correction) Will Hooley was back with the Bedford Blues but the GKIPA Championship isn't playing at the moment but the good news is he signed over the summer with Saracens, adding to that club's long list of Eagles who have suited up for the club.

In the Pro 14, scrumhalf Ruben De Haas is back with the Cheetahs. He had to spend two weeks in isolation before he could start training.

"Isolation has been quite challenging to be honest," De Haas told Goff Rugby Report. The team had already started training and I was in Jo'burg in isolation. Hopefully we'll be playing soon."

It's been an interesting winter in the Southern Hemisphere, with South African teams realizing that if they want to play in Super Rugby or the Pro 14, they need to travel a long way. So they concluded that traveling north for the Pro 14 at least kept them in the same time zone (usually), and it's time zones more than anything that sap a player's energy. The Cheetahs are already in the Pro 14, but we might see more teams join at some point.

And then there's France. We talked about some of the USA players in France a week ago:

Four Americans To Root For In France's Pro Rugby Comps

And of course we missed one. Yes Titi Lamositele moved from Saracens to Montpellier. David Ainu'u is still at Toulouse. Nick Civetta joined Eric Fry at Vannes. But we didn't discuss hooker Joe Taufete'e moving from Worcester to Lyon, and he's a pretty high-profile signing.

So in terms of active Eagles, Brache, MacGinty, Lasike, Peterson, Hookey, De Haas, Lamositele, Ainu'u, Civetta, Fry, and Taufete'e are looking at serious overseas pro time. We may well see more.