Austin Elite Rugby announced the return of Roland Suniula for the 2020 Major League Rugby season. He is the first player to be announced by the team for 2020. He played in ten matches with the two-time MLR Champions Seawolves in 2019, including in the Championship final.
Roland is 32-years-old (33 in Dec.), 5’11″, 215 lbs, and plays center. He is one of three bothers who has represented the U.S. National team.
Roland has been in Seattle for several months and played for the Seattle Saracens this Fall. He also spent time coaching with Atavus Rugby. In 2018 he played with his brother Andrew with Austin Elite Rugby and in 2019 played with Shalom. Prior to joining Austin Elite Rugby in 2018, Roland played with Rugby Reggio in Emilia, Italy in the Italian Eccellenza League (Top 10).
Roland Suniula Rugby Career
Roland Suniula was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa in 1986 and his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand while he and brothers Andrew and Shalom were young. All attended Kelston Boys’ High School in Te Atatu, a suburb of Auckland.
Roland attended Kelston Boys’ High School between 2000-2004 when he graduated. The school is highly regarded for its rugby program and several players have gone on to play for the All Blacks.
After graduating high school, he played Provincial rugby with North Harbour from 2005 to 2008. At that time, the club was part of the National Provincial Championship. That later changed to the ITM Cup in 2010 and to the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Roland debuted for the Eagles 7s team in Oct. 2008 at the NAWIRA Rugby World Cup 7s Qualifier, where he played with his brother Shalom. He would go on to play in 13 IRB Sevens Series tournaments.
Roland became Eagle 405 when he debuted against Ireland at Santa Clara, May 31, 2009. The last of his 17 test matches was against Canada at Charleston, Aug 17, 2013.
He was also a member of the Eagles 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.
Club & Professional Rugby
Roland played with Boston Rugby Club in the Super League from April to June 2011. In 2012, Roland joined brother Andrew with the Chicago Griffins in the USA Rugby Super League. He then moved to France to play professional rugby with FC Auch Gers, a PRO D2 team located in Midi-Pyrenees. The following year he switched to Vienne of the Federale 1 League.
Roland then signed a two-year contract with an option for the third year with Racing Club Chalonnais, playing there from 2014-16.
In the Spring/Summer of 2016, Suniula returned to the United States to play in the inaugural PRO Rugby season with the Ohio Aviators. During the first match played for the league at Denver, Roland scored the league’s first try in an opening 16-13 overtime loss. The team would win both of the other matches against Denver. The last was a 32-25 win at home, with the bonus points the difference in the Stampede edging the Aviators for the title by a point.
The stint with the Aviators in Ohio lead to a coaching role with the Tiger Rugby Academy, as well as playing for Columbus.
In September 2017 he also played in the Aspen Ruggerfest with the Misfits.
Suniula last played with the Columbus Rugby Club during 2016-17 and is a Tiger Academy Rugby Coach.
Roland Suniula 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).
Then it was onto Austin Elite Rugby for the inaugural 2018 Major League Rugby season with his brother Andrew. Following the season, Roland moved to Seattle and worked with Atavus Rugby and played with the Seattle Saracens during the Fall. That reunited him with his brother Shalom for the 2019 MLR season with the Seattle Seawolves. Now he returns to Austin Elite Rugby for the 2020 season, where he will be reunited with brother Andrew.
More on Brothers Andrew and Shalom
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.
Older brother Andrew played for the Eagles from 2008-2016, earning 39 caps. He also played professionally for the Cornish Pirates, Wasps, CSM Bucuresti and the San Diego Breakers. Andrew was also selected to play for the Classic Eagles in the World Classic in Bermuda in November. In 2017 he played with the Chicago Griffins and for the Chicago Lions President’s XV against the Houston SaberCats on February 10, 2017. Andrew signed to play with Austin Elite Rugby for the 2018 Major League Rugby season, was the team manager/player in 2019, and has been working with the team in building the team for the 2020 season.
Shalom 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 signed to play with the Seattle Seawolves for the inaugural Major League Rugby season and was a key contributor in helping the team win two consecutive MLR Championships in 2018 and in 2019.
Austin Elite Rugby Comments
“Roland has played in a high performance environment since high school and has become a leader on the pitch and an ambassador of the game off the pitch, said Todd Clever, Director of Rugby. I had the privilege of playing many times with Roland, I know what a quality man and player he is. We are very excited to welcome him back to Austin”
Welcome back to the herd, Roland Suniula! #jointheherd