The Seattle Seawolves have re-signed Shalom Suniula for the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 32-year-old inside center/flyhalf (33 in May) is 5’9″ and 190 lbs.
Shalom returns for his fourth season with the Seawolves and has 28 of the 29 matches that he has played since 2018. In 2020 he played 369 minutes in 5 matches as a starter during the Covid-19 shortened season. He then played with the Ohio Aviators at the World Tens Series in October/November in Bermuda.
Shalom won back-to-back MLR Championships with the Seawolves in 2018 and 2019. In 2019 he played 1203 minutes, starting in 15 of 16 matches, and scoring four tries. He had 86 carries for 730 meters and had 6 line breaks, made 160 tackles, and kicked for 546 meters. In 2018 he played 638 m minutes in 8 matches and scored one try.
Shalom has been actively involved with the team in the community and coaching Atavus Rugby.
Shalom Suniula was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa in 1988 and his family moved to Auckland, New Zealand while he and his brothers Andrew and Roland were young. All attended Kelston Boys’ High School in Te Atatu, a suburb of Auckland.
Shalom attended Kelston Boys’ High School between 2002-2006 when he graduated. The school is highly regarded for its rugby program. While there, he also was selected in 2004 to the New Zealand Junior Kiwi rugby league team. After graduation, he played with the Souths Logan Magpies in Brisbane, Australia.
Brothers Andrew and Roland were already playing rugby after they graduated from Kelston, and all would later represent the United States Eagles. Andrew is Eagles 397 and has 39 caps, as well as having been an Eagles 7s player. Roland is Eagles 405 and has 17 caps. Shalom has 18 caps and been an Eagles 7s player and captain, and was an Olympic team member in 2016.
USA Club Rugby 15s & 7s
From 2008 to joining the Belmont Shore 7s team in 2011, Shalom was not affiliated with club rugby. He won the National Club 7s Championship with Belmont Shore in 2011 and was named MVP. He then joined the Seattle Saracens in 2014 where he was part of their National Club 7s Championship team. In 2015 he needed to prepare for the Rugby World Cup and in 2016 for the Olympics, so he only played sporadically for the Seattle 15s team in the British Columbia Division 1 and Premier League in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In 2017 he will play his first match with the team, as he was recovering from a broken jaw that was sustained while playing for Washington Athletic Club in the USA Club 7s Nationals.
- Belmont Shore RFC – National 7s Champions 2011
- Seattle Saracens (2014-2017) National 7s Champions 2014 (Seattle -OPBS), 2017 Washington Athletic Club – 3rd
- Seattle Saracens 15s – British Columbia Division 1 in 2015, Premier Divison 2016-2017.
USA National Team Sevens
Shalom Suniula played for the USA Eagles 7s team from 2008-2014. The USA Eagles 7s team became a core team beginning with the 2008-2009 season. Shalom is one of the HSBC Sevens Series leaders in the USA in three categories, appearances (41 events – 3rd place), Kicking (117 goals – 3rd place), and Points Scored (334 points – 7th Place).
Shalom has played for four USA Sevens coaches. Al Caravelli (2006-2012) was his first coach in 2008 and in 2011 he captained the team. Alex Magleby assumed head coach responsibilities in 2012-2013, Matt Hawkins in 2013-2014, and Mike Friday from 2014 to the present.
He has been to many High-Performance Camps with Friday at the helm and was selected as a nontraveling reserve in 2015 for the Hong Kong and Tokyo Sevens. In 2016 he was selected as a member of Team USA for the Rio 2016 Olympics, as a traveling reserve.
Suniula has been part of the Eagles 7s Player Pool from 2008 to 2016 and is now focusing on rugby 15s.
- Eagles Sevens debut NAWIRA 7s Fall 2008 (Rugby World Cup 7s Qualifier). His brother Roland also debuted in this tournament and would play for the Eagles Sevens 13 times.
- Eagles Sevens 2008-2009, 2009-10 (the only player to participate in every tournament), 2011-2014
- Pan American Games 2011 – Bronze Medal (Guadalajara, Mexico)
- Team USA -Rio Olympics 2016
Other Rugby Sevens (Tens) International Tournaments
- Central Coast Sevens 2011 – Sunnybank Rugby 7s from Brisbane, Australia (Cup Champions, 14-12 over Australia)
- QLD Club Champions – Sunnybank Rugby 2011
- Las Vegas Invitational – USA Falcons 2016 (Men’s Elite A Division)
- Elite City 7s – June 2014 at Houston Sports Park (Seattle Saracens won & qualify for World Club 7s)
- World Club 7s – Seattle Saracens 2016
- Hong Kong Tens Champions – Penguins International 2016
- Hong Kong Tens – Penguins International 2017 co-captain
USA National Team Eagles XVs
Shalom Suniula made his test debut on March 22, 2014, against Uruguay in Montevideo. He has been capped 18 times, including 2 matches against Scotland and South Africa at the Rugby World Cup in 2015. His last match was against Russia in Sacramento on June 25, 2016. He has been part of the Eagles Players Pool from 2014 to the present.
He has played for two head coaches as an Eagle. Mike Tolkin was his head coach in 2014-2015 and John Mitchell in 2016. Shalom hopes that he will be able to rejoin the Eagles under Gary Gold and has set a goal of playing in the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.
A highlight of his rugby career was playing with his brother Andrew against the All Blacks at Soldier Field in Chicago on Nov. 1, 2014. He then had that rare opportunity to play against Romania on November 8, 2014, with his brothers Andrew and Roland in the same backline.
Rugby 15s International matches
Shalom Suniula was selected for the USA Islanders against the Aviva Premiership Rugby team, the Saracens, for an August 2017 match at the National Sports Centre in Bermuda. An injury in the USA Rugby Club 7s Nationals prevented his participation.
Shalom Suniula and Coaching
Suniula discussed coaching indicating that “My passion for coaching was very pretty straightforward, I simply realized the potential US players had if only they were exposed or engaged to these opportunities at either an early age or in their communities.”In 2014 Atavus provided an opportunity to learn and challenge myself in the art of coaching. It’s a unique skill to deliver what you have in your head to players, the most challenging part is having clarity whilst keeping it simple and fun.”The next generation of Eagles is alive and well – and I can’t wait to see them do even better.”
Shalom Suniula is the Regional Manager for Atavus Rugby & Football where he is involved with rugby camps and coaching throughout the USA, Canada, and Bermuda since 2014.
In March 2017, he went to Bermuda with Atavus Rugby for the Ariel Re Sevens and to prepare Bermuda’s Sevens team for the World Sevens Qualifier in Hong Kong. He was part of a team along with Waisale Serevi and Carly MacKinnon. In an article on March 17 in The Royal Gazette, Suniula commented that “We find that players here in Bermuda are naturals. It’s about trying to nurture that and keep them heading in the right direction, in terms of where they want to be, and they want to be playing the highest level.
In August 2017 Suniula was the Atavus Boys Academy Elite Head Coach at the NAI7s.
Coaches Comments about Shalom Suniula
Mike Friday, USA Eagles 7s Head Coach, indicated that “He is a very clever player and talented footballer equally comfortable at 9, 10 or as a second playmaker at 12. He has always studied the game and work hard on and off the pitch to get better. Shalom whilst quiet in his demeanor is a true competitor and is always a great team player and man to have in your environment and culture as he will help and guide the younger guys.
Matt Hawkins said that “Shalom is a fantastic signing for the Seattle team and will bring great experience and leadership to their squad.”
More about Shalom Suniula:
Suniula debuted for the Men’s Eagles Sevens at the NAWIRA Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier in 2008 and earned a spot on the team for the 2008-09 HSBC World Rugby Sevens World Series. Suniula was a part of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 team and appeared in every leg of the 2009-10 Series. He was also a member of the bronze medal-winning Eagles at the 2011 Pan American Games. He made his full international test debut with the Eagles in a Rugby World Cup 2015 Qualifier match against Uruguay in March of 2014. Shalom’s brothers Andrew and Roland Suniula also both played for the United States national teams. Suniula currently works with Atavus Rugby to grow the game in America.
Shalom Suniula Education
Shalom pursued higher education while he was an athlete. From 2014-2019 he pursued a Bachelor of Science Degree from DeVry University in Business Administration and Management. He then went to the Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University and earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Management.
Shalom has taken the same level of commitment to rugby to the community as a Client Executive for USI Insurance Services.