Austin Gilgronis re-signed Pele Crowley for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 27-year-old Samoa international scrum-half (28 in April) is 5’9″ and 190 lbs.
Pele arrived in Austin just prior to the final regular-season match of the truncated 2020 MLR season in which he started. He then returned to New Zealand and is part of the 2020 Countries Manukau Mitre 10 Cup squad.
“Cowley played all 80 minutes at scrumhalf on debut, leading the team in tackles (15) while helping the AG’s to their first win of the 2020 season against state-rival Houston Sabercats. Cowley broke the gain line on all six of his carries in the match while booting six kicks for 166 meters.”
Pele was born in Tokora, New Zealand which is the fifth-largest town in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. He attended Mt. Albert Grammar School and helped the school win the 2010 National Championship.
After finishing high school, according to an Ashley Stanley of Beyond the Mark interview, he played with the Auckland Rugby Academy for three years, spent one season with Auckland’s Development team, and then made his debut for Manu Samoa against Italy on 8 November 2016. That was the first of the 15 caps that he has earned for Samoa. He played in three matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup with his last appearance on 12 October against Ireland. A test highlight was playing against his cousin Sean Maitland of Scotland, whose mother is half Samoan.
In 2015 he played with Counties Manukau Steelers in the ITM Cup (Mitre 10 Cup) and in 2016 signed a contract with Waikato for two seasons. He also was a medical joker in 2016 for the Cardiff Blues. In 2018 he moved back to Auckland and played for Samoa. In 2019 he played club rugby with Ponsonby and helped the team win the Gallaher Shield, the award which the champion of the Auckland Rugby Football Union senior premier competition receives.
Pele met with Austin coach Brett Semmons at the Rugby World Cup according to the Samoan Observer and his visa for joining the Gilgronis was just received. He will be a valuable addition to the team in 2020.
Austin Gilgronis Comments
AG’s head coach Sam Harris is ecstatic to have Pele back in the team, “He won! Pele is a winner, and while he only played one game he impressed everyone with his leadership as well as how quickly he learned and executed a new system.”
“Pele was in total control of the tempo, you could just tell in that Houston match,” says AG’s prop Mason Pedersen. “No panic at all, [Pele] can speed it up and attack the defense or slow everything down and buy us time.”
Cowley is currently training with Counties Manukau this offseason and AG’s head coach Sam Harris “expect[s]Pele to be one of the form players of the competition.”
Welcome back, Pele Cowley!