NOLA Gold Rugby Club has signed Tesimoni Tongauiha for his second Major League Rugby season with the club. The 24-year-old flanker/center is 6’2″ and 225 lbs. Moni joins the team after playing rugby 7s and 15s with Life West.
Moni grew up in Oakland, California where he played rugby for the Oakland Warthogs in high school. He then joined the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy and benefited from the coaching of Kevin Battle.
Kevin Battle, head coach of the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy indicated in Tongauiha’s 2015 player profile that “Tesimoni ‘Moni’ Tongauiha is the ideal mid-field back: big, fast and tenacious. He brings another element too, as he is a skilled ball distributor and a real student of the game. Keep your eye out for Mone, as he will accomplish great things.”
In October 2016, Moni scored the opening try for the Santa Barbra NDA as they beat the New Zealand Institute of Sport 32-24. Curtis Reed of This is American Rugby reported on the match. He later went to New Zealand and played with the New Zealand Institute of Sport.
He then played outside center at Life West in 2017, where the team beat the Austin Blacks to advance to the National Club quarterfinals where they lost to Belmont Shore.
August 10, 2017, Tongauiha was selected as a reserve for the USA Islanders match against Saracens at the Bermuda National Sports Centre. The Saracens used the match as a preseason camp in advance of beginning their Aviva Premiership Rugby season.
Tui Osborne, St. Bonaventure Men’s Rugby Head Coach, was a member of the coaching staff for the USA Islanders. Osborne discussed Tongauiha as a player, indicating that “he is a skillful center when you need him to distribute and an elusive runner with ball in hand.”
Moni Tongauiha 2018 Comments
Moni Tongauiha also commented about his signing with New Orleans Gold in 2018 indicating that “I feel blessed to be playing professionally. Most kids, especially where I’m from; Oakland, don’t get this opportunity to play professionally especially with rugby.
Playing in NZ really opened my game up as a player and understanding it more. I got to play against some top tier players and gained a lot of experience from it.
The adjustments I’m concerned about is getting used to that humid weather and trying to live with it for 6 months. But other than that, I should be good.”
This will be Moni’s second time with the NOLA Gold with the club utilizing him as a center and as a flanker during the 2018 season. He contributed in both capacities and adds versatility to the club again in 2019.