RUNY Adds Ngawati
Source: Toronto Wolfpack
Rugby United New York’s new general manager Stephen Lewis has had a busy off-season. Lewis made a big splash at the draft, trading away their two picks to Dallas in exchange for an extra foreign player slot only to sign Connor Buckley (the player many thought they were going to take) after he went undrafted anyways.
Much of RUNY’s core has been retained and Lewis has brought in an impressive group of new signings that includes Samu Tawake, Apenisa Cakaubalavu, Fa’asiu Fuatai, Zak Taulafo, Wilton Rebolo, Joel Miranda, and Conor McManus. Throughout the week RUNY’s newest batch of signings announced the returns of Charlie Hewitt, Evan Mintern, Kirk Hamilton, and Maori All Black Kara Pryor. The highlight of the group was Canadian Quinn Ngawati!
Ngawati is one of the rising stars of Canadian rugby. The 21-year old has excelled in both codes early in his career. In union, he has been a force at centre for Westshore RFC, Pacific Pride and while representing Canada in the U20 Trophy tournament. In league, Ngawati has suited up for the London Skolars, Rochdale Hornets, and Toronto Wolfpack. Most recently Ngawati was under contract with the Wolfpack, but was playing on loan with the Hornets in the RFL Championship until COVID-19 shut the season down.
The Championship season was cancelled outright, while immense financial issues have forced the Wolfpack to withdraw for the remainder of the Super League campaign. As of now, they are still waiting to learn their fate or status for next year. The Wolfpack players went unpaid for quite some time and many players, including Sonny Bill Williams, have found new homes since the club withdrew.
Ngawati now lands back in North America and back in union. Ngawati is a powerful ball carrier that is incredibly hard to tackle. He can be utilized as a crash ball centre but also possesses the ability to burn you with pure speed. His skill with the ball in hand is terrific. His passing is precise and has an uncanny ability to get the ball away in an offload.
Ngawati will join a centre group in New York that only officially includes Will Leonard and Troy Lockyear so far. Of course, Chris Mattina wore the 12 jersey in four of their five games in 2020, but the club has not announced his status for 2021. Ultimately, RUNY should provide Ngawati with the opportunity to earn regular playing time in their squad.
With the 2023 Rugby World Cup just three years away, Ngawati should earn plenty of looks from Kingsley Jones. I believe it may be time to usher in a new era of Canadian rugby and focus on some of the young developing talent throughout the next RWC cycle. Ngawati, one of Canada’s top prospects, signing with RUNY is a big positive for Rugby Canada.
Ngawati also adds to the growing list of Pacific Pride players and other young Canadians finding MLR homes south of the border. Pride prop Nik Hildebrand has joined the Houston SaberCats and more Pride names will potentially be joining him. Laurier Golden Hawk lock Hank Stevenson is also headed to Texas, joining the expansion Dallas Jackals. The Seattle Seawolves drafted Nick Taylor of Lindenwood University and the Calgary Canucks.
He has Canadian, British, and American citizenship which allowed him to be eligible for the draft. Ultimately, the more Canadian playing professional rugby, the better. Hopefully we will see more names added to the list shortly.
Canadians signed to American MLR Teams for 2021:
Moe Abdelmonem (Austin Gilgronis-Flanker) Hank Stevenson (Dallas Jackals-Lock) Nik Hildebrand (Houston SaberCats-Prop) Robbie Povey (Houston SaberCats-Flyhalf/Fullback) Kyle Baillie (NOLA Gold- lock/back row) Eric Howard (NOLA Gold- Hooker) Doug Fraser (Old Glory DC- Centre/Wing) Ciaran Hearn (Old Glory DC- Centre) Matt Heaton (Rugby ATL- Flanker) Conor Keys (Rugby ATL- Lock) Quinn Ngawati (Rugby United New York-Centre) Josh Thiel (San Diego Legion- Centre) Nick Taylor (drafted by Seattle Seawolves- Centre)
It should be noted that rumours that DTH van der Merwe will be headed to the LA Giltinis continue to spread. LA has been completely silent since the MLR draft and have not announced any signings (former Raptors Blake Rogers and Nick Boyer confirmed themselves that they will head to LA).
Seattle is traditionally the American team with the most Canadians and they have also been quiet on the announcement front. Ultimately, expect this list to grow as we get closer to 2021!