Samu Manoa announced his retirement from international rugby. He debuted with the Eagles in 2010 against Georgia. After nearly a decade with the U.S. Men’s National Team, highlighted by 22 caps, a captaincy during the South Africa game at Rugby World Cup 2015, and a historic victory over then No. 6 Scotland last year, Manoa has chosen to support the Eagles in the upcoming World Cup as a proud alumnus.
Samu is from Concord, California, but spent several years in Tonga and then Hawaii in his youth. He played rugby for San Francisco Golden Gate from 2003-2011, winning the Super League titles in 2009 and 2011, with the team runners-up in 2010.
Samu signed a contract with the Northampton Saints in the English Premiership and played with the team from 2011-2015. His first season he was named by ESPN to the Premiership Dream Team. In the 2012-2013 and 13-14 seasons, he was named Northampton Saints Player of the Year by their Supporters. In the latter year, he was on a short list for The Rugby Player’s Association and the Premiership for Player of the Year honors. In 2014 the team won the Premiership Championship over the Saracens.
He then signed a four-year contract with Toulon in the Top 14 league. The length of the contract was a first for the club. During Summer 2018 he signed with the Cardiff Blues in PRO14 making seven appearances before receiving a compassionate release to return to California where his wife and five children were living.
Samu has played for the USA National team Seelectsand A-side from 2009-2010, including in the Americas Rugby Championship. He made his debut for the Eagles on November 27, 2010, against Georgia and his last of his 22 tests was against Ireland on November 24, 2018. Twenty of the appearances were starts. He played in the 2015 Rugby World Cup but missed the 2011 one as he felt he needed to be with the Northampton Saints.
Samu also played with the Barbarians in 2013 where he debuted against the Lions in Hong Kong.
Manoa said: “This Bay Boy is hanging the boots up. It’s been a long journey but a journey that I’ll never forget. My plan was to ride this last ride with my brothers in Japan but plans have changed. I want to thank everyone that has supported me since Day One, without you there wouldn’t be a Samu.“Putting on that Eagles jersey and representing your country is something that a lot of folks don’t get to do. I was blessed enough to wear it and rep not only my country but my family. Truly grateful for all the coaches, staff and folks behind the scenes that helped me Especially my family, my pops for always getting on my case. My grandmother, rest in peace, for believing if I stuck with rugby, it will take care of us. Rugby wouldn’t happen if they weren’t around to push me through.
I want to thank my wife Mary-Lorraine for her ongoing support because when things became tough, she ‘kicked’ me through, literally.
And a big thank you to all the fans who’ve rocked with me. I’ll never forget you. Eagle #419, signing off.”
Head Coach Gary Gold said: “Samu will be greatly missed as a player and a teammate as he was due to be a part of our Rugby World Cup squad and his leadership made a significant impact on the group. We’re thankful to Samu for his dedication to this team and fully support his decision to start a new chapter. His contributions to the USA over the years will sit alongside some of the most recognized figures for the Men’s National Team.”
General Manager of the Men’s National Team 15s Dave Hodges said: “While we are disappointed to lose Samu’s impact and uncompromising physicality during this Rugby World Cup campaign, we fully support his decision as he balances where he is with the demands of international rugby. As Samu believes it is time to pass the torch to the next generation, we are equally grateful for his commitment to the jersey over the last decade and his contributions to the Men’s National Team both on and off the field.”
“Manoa will continue to play professionally at home with the reigning two-time MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves. The Seawolves recently won their second straight MLR title this weekend in thrilling fashion, beating San Diego Legion 26-23 with a try in the final minute.”