Austin Elite Rugby has experienced the implications of the Americas Rugby Championship and has included Andrew Suniula on the 2019 Major league Rugby squad. He had transitioned to a coaching role with the team from the 2018 season. The 36-year-old center and team manager/coach is 6’1″ and about 240 lbs.
In 2018, the Austin Elite Rugby had an Eagles brothers combination in the centers for the inaugural Major League Rugby season. Andrew played with the Chicago Lions President’s XV against the Houston SaberCats during the preseason, and Grant Cole, a Houston SaberCats commentator, broke the news that Andrew Suniula would be joining Austin Elite Rugby for the inaugural 2018 Major League Rugby season.
Following that announcement, his brother Roland, a former Eagle also joined the team. Roland has since joined his brother Shalom with the Seattle Seawolves for 2019.
Andrew Suniula & Rugby Career
Andrew Suniula was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa in 1982 and his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand while he and brothers Roland and Shalom were young. All attended Kelston Boys’ High School in Te Atatu, a suburb of Auckland.
Andrew attended Kelston Boys’ High School between 1996-2001 when he graduated. The school is highly regarded for its rugby program and several players have gone on to play for the All Blacks, including principal Sir Graham Henry.
Andrew became Eagle 397 when he debuted against Japan vs. the United States at Nagoya, Japan on Nov 16, 2008. The last of his 39 test matches was against Brazil vs. the United States at the Americas Rugby Championship at Sao Paulo, Brazil on Feb 27, 2016. In his 39 test matches, Andrew was a starter at Center for 35 of them.
Andrew and Shalom also had the opportunity to play together for the Eagles against the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago on Nov. 1, 2014.
He was also a member of the Eagles along with his brother Roland for the Rugby World Cup in 2011. The team went 1-2 with losses to Ireland and Italy while beating Russia in between those matches. In the 2015 Rugby World Cup against South Africa, Andrew started at inside center, while his brother Shalom, was the flyhalf.
Club & Professional Rugby
After graduating from Auckland University of Technology, he played Provincial rugby with Taranaki from 2005 to 2006. During 2007, Andrew switched back to playing rugby league with the Auckland Lions and then signed onto the Manly – Warringah Sea Eagles where he played wing, center and second row and part of the NRL and World Club Championship winning sides.
Andrew played with the Chicago Griffins Rugby Club in the Super League in 2010. He then played during the 2011-2012 season in the RFU Championship League for the Cornish Pirates losing the final to the London Welsh. In 2012, Andrew returned to the Chicago Griffins briefly before signing back to return to the United Kingdom to play professional rugby with the London Wasps for the 2013-2014 Premiership Rugby season.
After a short stint in New York City with New York Old Blue, Andrew traveled to Romania in 2015 where he played for CSM Bucuresti in the Romanian Rugby Championship season. In the Spring/Summer of 2016, Suniula returned to the United States to play in the inaugural PRO Rugby season with the San Diego Breakers.
More on Brothers Roland and Shalom
Roland Suniula just signed a contract with Rugby Reggio in Emilia, Italy for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season and joined the team in November. The team plays in the Italian Eccellenza League (Top 10). He is a former Eagles 7s player with 13 caps and also has 15 caps for the Eagles 15s. Roland was linked to Austin Elite Rugby from a tweet and it has been confirmed by the team that Roland will also be joining the team.
Shalom Suniula played for the Eagles Sevens team 13 times between 2008-2015 and was part of Team USA for the Olympics in Rio in 2016. He also played for the Eagles XV 18 times between 2014-2016 and is currently part of the Eagles player pool. He also just signed to play with the Seattle Seawolves for the inaugural Major League Rugby season.
More on Andrew Suniula
“After the PRO Rugby 2017 debacle, I relocated from San Diego back to Chicago to continue playing but also dive into the coaching side. I started consulting with schools, clubs, and programs in the area and around Midwest as well as coaching/playing for the Chicago Griffins RFC. Have also been working on rugby development systems, putting together a development and high-performance proposal for the Chicagoland area so I’ve been staying in the game finding better ways to improve the US landscape from the ground level up.”
I feel like my career has been somewhat ‘non-conventional’ as in I’ve taken a road less traveled. From coming up through the tough Auckland Rugby age group systems to playing in many different leagues and clubs around the world in two sports and having some success along the way. From NPC to an NRL and World Club Championship winning team, Premiership and European leagues, a stint in the 7s World Series, two Rugby World Cups and taking part in Inaugural PRO rugby in the US. Looking back I am truly blessed and grateful for the experiences and friendships I’ve made along the way. Have kept myself in decent shape and I still enjoy playing and the thrill of competition so who knows what 2018 holds for me. Since I signed that first contract back in Nov 2004 as I finished my final university exam, it’s been one helluva crazy ride!”