Three players on Team USA’s rugby squad that will compete in the 2011 Pan-American Games this weekend will share a very unique honor. By the time they return from Guadalajara, Colin Hawley (Trowbridge, Calif.), Blaine Scully (Sacramento, Calif.), and Roland Suniula (Boston, Mass.) will have competed in two quadrennial international tournaments in as many months.
In September the trio was in New Zealand representing their country in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, where the USA Eagles went 1-3, and will play their Americas opponents Chile, Brazil, and Canada on October 29, the first day of the rugby portion of the Pan-Am Games.
At the 2011 RWC, the USA beat rivals Russia and made waves in the rugby world by giving rugby giants Ireland, Italy and Australia a run for their money.
Suniula started in three of the four games at flyhalf, a surprise to many as he had been carried in the squad as a utility back playing center, fullback, and wing during the Eagles’ World Cup build up. Many thought he was a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but Suniula proved his class and silenced many skeptics by employing a dynamic and opportunistic style of play at first five.
Roland’s role in the USA’s only try against Russia was a great example of his ability and vision. A laser flat pass from his older brother, Andrew, gave Roland the chance to make a devastating line break and he made Russia pay. He drew in Russian defenders on the outside, returned the ball to Andrew who found USA halfback Mike Petri to finish the move by scoring a fantastic try.
Scully and Hawley will take the field together in Guadalajara, as they have done many times before. Like when they were winning National Championships at Cal, or most recently, playing against Australia together in the Rugby World Cup. The two have had parallel journeys through life on and off the rugby field.
The pair went to the same high school (Jesuit H.S.; Sacramento, Calif.) before becoming Cal and later, Team USA teammates. Hawley won a USA Rugby High School National Championship with Jesuit in 2004, but Scully was occupied with (and excelling in) other sporting endeavors which, at that time, consisted of basketball, water polo, and swimming, claiming All-American honors.
Scully didn’t start playing rugby until his freshman year at UCLA. After a year playing for the Bruins, Scully got noticed by Cal’s coaches, storied American rugby figures Jack Clark and Tom Billups and made the move up to Berkeley.
Before the two graduated from Cal (Scully in 2011, Hawley in 2010) they won a national championship together and both played for the national team before graduating. Hawley won a total of four Championships with the Golden Bears, and Scully won two. Both earned multiple All-American honors at Cal.
The two will continue their already-impressive careers on October 29-30 as they vie for Team USA’s third gold medal in rugby (USA won in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, playing with a team of mostly college students, many of them from Cal) and the USA’s first ever gold medal in rugby sevens.
Meet the Team
Team USA 2011 Pan-American Games Squad
Mark Bokhoven (Denver Barbarians; Ames, Iowa)
Colin Hawley (Olympic Club of San Francisco; Trowbridge, Calif.)
Rocco Mauer (Chicago Lions; Cleveland, Ohio)
Folau Niua (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Milemoti Pulu (San Francisco Golden Gate; East Palo Alto, Calif.)
Nu’u Punimata (Old Puget Sound Beach; Seattle, Wash.)
Blaine Scully (Unattached; Sacramento, Calif.)
Roland Suniula (Boston; Boston, Mass.)
Shalom Suniula (Belmont Shore; San Diego, Calif.)
Zack Test (At Large; Palo Alto, Calif.)
Peter Tiberio (University of Arizona; Naperville, Ill.)
Maka Unufe (Utah Warriors; Provo, Utah)
Head Coach Al Caravelli (Ridgefield, Conn.)
Asst Coach Dave Williams (Denver, Colo.)
Video Analyst Paul Goulding(Aspen, Colo.)
Physio/TC Kristen Douhan (Denver, Colo.)
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