The New England Free Jacks have re-signed Ratu Peceli Rinakama for the 2020 Major League Rugby season. He was a key contributor in the 2019 Cara Cup and against Lansdowne. The 31-year-old fullback is 5’9″ and 190 lbs. He may also be utilized as a utility back that is capable of playing flyhalf, center or in the back three.
Following playing in the 2018 inaugural Major League Rugby season for NOLA Gold, he returned to play with Metropolis during the Fall 2018 season.
Ratu Peceli Rinakama was born in Fiji and subsequently moved to the USA in 2010. Since relocating, he initially played rugby 15s and 7s with the Gentlemen of Aspen from 2010-2012. He then moved to California and played 15s with the Sacramento Lions between 2012-2014 and 7s with the Glendale Raptors.
In the Summer of 2014, Rinakama moved to the East Coast and played with Bulldog 7s in Connecticut. In Fall 2014, he joined the Hartford Wanderers for 15s and subsequently switched the following year to the New Haven Old Black Rugby Club. Since 2016, he is playing in Minnesota with the Metropolis Rugby Club for both 15s and 7s. Metropolis Rugby Club was the Midwest #2 seed at the USA Rugby Club Sevens Nationals in 2017.
Jake Feury wrote for about the Summer 7s New Haven Bulldogs 2014 team in Rugby Today, saying that “Rinakama is another talented player from the west coast who has played 7s for Glendale and Aspen and 15s for the Sacramento Lions. Look for him to be a large contributor to this New Haven squad.”
Ratu Peceli Rinakama and All-Stars Squads
Rinakama has played elite rugby 7s for several teams since 2014. At the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament in 2014, he played with the Serevi Selects in the Elite Bracket. At LVI in 2016, he was a member of the Dark n Stormy Misfits Rugby 7s squad and then in 2017, the Atavus Rugby All-Stars at the Rugbytown 7s. During the Summer 2019 sevens season, he played with Mystic River and helped the team advance to the USA Club 7s Nationals.
According to Nate Osborne, Head Coach of the New Orleans Gold, “Peceli is an outstanding player. He can play 9, 10, 11 or 15 equally well. He is a smart, fast, elusive and very skillful player. He is one of those rare players that make something happen every time he touches the ball. He is also a great guy to have around your squad always very positive and hard-working.”
New England Free Jacks 2019
What was true with NOLA Gold is still true for the Free Jacks. Rinakama provided veteran leadership and he was an asset on the pitch. That should continue with the Free Jacks in 2020.