Utah Warriors Release
On the heels of announcing the Warriors’ new Academy partnership with Utah Youth Rugby on Tuesday, Utah Warriors team management announced today the complete roster of the Warriors Selects, the next step of the Warriors’ development pathway. This roster comes ahead of Friday’s match against the Rugby Utah Men’s Premier Division All-Stars, slated for kick-off at 7 pm MT at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
“In any organization, player development is crucial,” said Chris Latham, Utah Warriors head coach. “It not only gives you depth within your squad but also creates a healthy competitive environment. The MLR is a physical league, so having depth in your squad is essential. The Selects program is a fantastic way to achieve this.”
The Warriors Selects program launched in 2019 as a developmental training option for local talent, but it has since expanded to a local and domestic competition team in 2020. With the launch of the 2020 Selects Fall Series, the Utah Warriors are looking to lay the foundation for future development opportunities for local and domestic players aspiring to make the jump to Major League Rugby.
Utah Warriors Director of Rugby Brandon Sparks said the Warriors Selects will give the team’s staff a chance to evaluate and measure how players are tracking.
“The Selects season this year will offer [the Warriors]the chance to compare players against another MLR team, discover players on other teams, and most importantly, develop our players and watch them apply the skills they’ve worked on in the game,” Sparks said.
Highlighting the Warriors Selects roster are three of the Warriors 2020 MLR Collegiate Draft picks including No. 3 pick Derek Ellingson (wing/center), No. 15 pick Danny Giannascoli (flyhalf), and No. 19 pick Elijah Hayes (prop).
“To be in Utah and working with the Selects is truly a blessing,” Hayes said. “It’s great being able to hone my craft with a great coaching staff and to compete with such talented teammates.”
Local talent will also be on display with recent college graduates and Utah club rugby stars joining the Warriors Selects team after their participation in the recent Community Combine or their in-season play.
Four collegiate players, including Dylan James (UofU, scrumhalf), James Mocke (BYU, lock), O’Shea Settle (UVU, center), and Tosh Wilcox (BYU, flyhalf), will all be making their Warriors Selects debuts.
Utah club veterans, like Danny Christensen (Park City Haggis, scrumhalf), Ioane Ioane (Gladiators, flanker), Jaggar Wall (Park City Haggis, lock), Joe Mano (Gladiators, wing), Peter Makaliao (West Valley, wing), and Scott Strong (Park City Haggis, hooker), will all bring experience to the Selects season and highlight Utah’s strong rugby community.
Other notable local talents stepping on the field for the Selects include Dominik Toluono, a former Utah Youth Rugby All-Star (Cannibals), and Nicholas Anderiana (Antelope, flanker). Toluono attended the 2019 Warriors Combine, proving his talent and earning himself a spot on the abbreviated 2020 MLR season roster. Anderiana is looking to follow Toluono’s example and graduate to the MLR side after working through the Utah Youth Rugby Cannibals ranks and with the Selects.
Some former NFL talent will also be on display with the Selects. Logan Tago, a 6’4’’ and 250 lbs. former Washington State University defensive lineman, stands to be a formidable weapon on the wing. After an All-Conference career in Pullman, Wash., Tago spent time with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 and is currently affiliated with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League.
Also on the wing will be former speedy Utah State University defensive back and sprinter, Aaron Wade, who at 6’1’’ and 210 lbs. was an all-state sprinter at Newsome High School in Lithia, Fla. Wade signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns in 2019 and has taken his speed and athleticism to rugby in effort to become a professional player there.
Warriors Nation will also recognize a few additional familiar faces on the pitch for the Selects, including Bailey Wilson (UVU, flanker), Charlie Hola (USA U20, No. 8), James Vaifale (USA U20, center), Michael Payne (BYU, prop/hooker), Sione Tau’ataina (West Valley, center) and Thomas Tu’avao (Utah Misfits, flanker). These previously-contracted MLR players will be working with the Selects to prepare and hone their craft leading into the 2021 MLR season.
Leading and working with the Warriors Selects is a group of local-talent coaches with Derek Smith and Vaha Esikia serving alongside Sparks as assistants.
Smith is a former Highland Rugby standout, who went on to feature as an All-American at BYU. He then coached multiple national championship teams at Herriman High School.
Esikia, who featured for the USA Eagles in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, has since worked to build the Las Vegas Rugby Academy and recently relocated to Utah. Smith leads the Selects forwards and defensive strategies, while Esikia works with the backs and oversees the team’s attack.
The Warriors Selects Fall Series starts this Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 pm MT, as they host the Men’s Premier Division All-Stars, a team traditionally comprised of the best Utah men’s club players. Stay tuned to the Utah Warriors social media channels for updates and live scoring details.
Currently, tickets are sold out for this Friday’s tilt against the MPD All-Stars, and the game will not be live-streamed in any capacity. However, limited tickets for the remaining three home Selects games in November are still available. To purchase tickets, visit www.warriorsrugby.com/warriors-selects-matches/.
For more details on the 2021 Warriors Selects Fall Series schedule and all current Utah Warriors updates, go to www.WarriorsRugby.com.
WARRIORS SELECTS 2020 ROSTER:
|NAME||HOMETOWN||HT||WT||POSITION||CLUB / REP|
|Aaron Wade||Lithia, FL||6′ 2”||200||Wing||Antelope|
|Aelias McHam||Dallas, TX||6′ 5″||250||Lock||Park City Haggis|
|Bailey Willson||Highland, UT||6′ 3”||235||Flanker||UVU, USA U20|
|Bobby Tu’avao||Widnes, England||6’ 2”||210||Fullback||Sacramento Blackhawks, Utah Misfits|
|Charlie Hola||Mesa, AZ||6′ 4”||255||No. 8||Tempe RFC, USA U20|
|Cumorah Saulala||Morgan Hill, CA||6′ 3″||195||Flyhalf||SFGG, Gladiators|
|Danny Christensen||Salt Lake City, UT||5’ 9”||170||Scrumhalf||Park City Haggis|
|Danny Giannascoli||Downingtown, PA||6′ 3”||200||Flyhalf||Schuylkill River Rugby, Atlantis Rugby|
|David Perez||Chihuahua, Mexico||6′ 4”||240||Flanker||Utah Cannibals, Gladiators|
|Dawson Ruegger||Tooele, UT||6′ 2”||275||Prop||Antelope Island Rugby Club|
|Derek Ellingson||Walnut Creek, CA||6′ 1”||210||Wing/Center||St. Mary’s College|
|Dominik Toluono||Taylorsville, UT||6′ 1”||205||Center||Mana|
|Dylan James||Santa Monica, CA||5′ 10”||175||Scrumhalf||Santa Monica Rugby Club, Atavus All-Stars|
|Elijah Hayes||Destrehan, LA||6′ 3”||280||Prop||Bayou Hurricanes|
|Ioane Ioane||West Valley City, UT||6′ 4”||240||Flanker||Salt Lake City Gladiators|
|Jacob Klingelsmith||Traverse City, MI||5′ 10”||210||Center||Traverse City Bay Blues|
|Jaggar Wall Tauvao||West Valley City, UT||6′ 5”||250||Lock/Flanker||Mana, Park City Haggis|
|James Kaleo Kistner (Kal)||Aspen, CO||6′ 5″||245||Lock||University of Otago RFC Premier Team, Gentlemen of Aspen RFC|
|James Mocke||Johannesburg, South Africa||6’ 5”||265||Lock||BYU, Golden Lions Academy 2013|
|James Vaifale||Chandler, AZ||6’||210||Wing/Center||Tempe RFC|
|Jarod Leuta-Markey||Tustin, CA||6′ 1”||212||Fullback||CSULB, Rhinos Rugby Academy|
|Joseph Mano||PagoPago, American Samoa||5′ 11”||198||Wing||Gladiators, American Samoa|
|Kobe Mckinney||Herriman, UT||6’ 2”||245||Flanker||Herriman High School, Utah Cannibals, Evolution Academy|
|Logan Tago||Fagasa, American Samoa||6′ 4”||240||Wing||Gladiators|
|Michael Payne||Murrieta CA||6′||260||Prop/Hooker||BYU|
|Mike Gieselman||Commerce Township, MI||6′ 2”||220||Flanker||Michigan State University, Detroit Tradesmen|
|Nicholas Andiarena||Layton, UT||6′ 2”||230||Flanker||Kau Toa Rugby, Layton Christian Academy, Antelope|
|O’Shea Settle||Orem, UT||6′||224||Center||Genesis Rugby, UVU, SVU|
|Peter Makalio||West Valley City, UT||6′||215||Center||Mana Rugby, West Valley Warriors & Lions|
|Ra’Zhan Reed||Ogden, UT||6′ 1”||337||Prop||Herriman High School, Utah Cannibals, Weber State Rugby, Antelope|
|Samuel Ciancutti||Lakewood, OH||6′ 5”||250||Lock||Bowling Green State University, Westside Cleveland Rovers|
|Scott Strong||Taylorsville, UT||6′ 1”||235||Hooker||Park City Haggis, University of Utah|
|Sesili Taukiuvea||Ogden, UT||5′ 11”||240||Hooker||Kautoa, Antelope|
|Sione M. Tauataina||West Valley City, UT||5′ 11″||230||Wing/Center||West Valley Warriors, Utah Cannibals, Utah Valley University, Utah Misfits|
|Thomas Tu’avao||Widnes, England||6′ 3”||240||Flanker||Sacramento Blackhawks|
|Tomasi Tonga||Herriman, UT||6′||220||Flyhalf||none|
|Tosh Wilcox||Salt Lake City, UT, USA||5′ 10”||190||Flyhalf||BYU, NYAC sevens, Old Blue sevens, Olympus Rugby|
|Ty Goss||McPherson, KA||6′ 7”||338||Lock||Pittsburg State University Rugby Club|
|Zephir Lambert||Newark, DE||6′ 2”||315||Prop||University of Delaware, Austin Blacks|
|Zerin Skelton||Bountiful, UT||5′ 7”||173||Scrumhalf||West Valley Warriors, Antelope|
UTAH WARRIORS SELECTS VS. RUGBY UTAH MEN’S PREMIER DIVISION ALL-STARS (OCT. 23, 2020):
1 Sam Ciancutti 2 Mike Payne 3 Zephir Lambert 4 Kal Kistner 5 James Mocke 6 Nick Andiarena 7 Mike Giesselman 8 Charlie Hola 9 Danny Christiansen 10 Tosh Wilcox 11 James Vaifale 12 Tomasi Tonga 13 Sione Tauataina 14 Aaron Wade 15 Jared Leuta-Markey 16 Scott Strong 17 Raz’han Reed 18 Elijah Hayes 19 Ty Goss 20 Bobby Tu’avao 21 Dylan James 22 Tosh Wilcox 23 Jacob Kilingelsmith
Coaches: Brandon Sparks (Dir. of Rugby), Vaha Esikia (Backs/Attack), Derek Smith (Forwards/Defense)