Austin Gilgronis Adds Nick Johnson

Austin Gilgronis added Nick Johnson for the remainder of the 2021 Major League Rugby season. The 30-year-old wing is 6’0″ and 215 lbs.

Nick did not see regular-season playing time for the Colorado Raptors in 2020 but played for the Glendale Merlins. In 2019 he played 176 minutes for the Raptors in 6 matches, starting once. He carried the ball 22 times for 272 meters, made 6 tackles, had 3 linebreaks, 2 offloads, and kicked once for 25 meters. In 2018 he played 80 minutes in 4 matches as a reserve.

Nick is a Denver, Colorado native and attended Mullin High School. He graduated in 2009. He then went to Santa Clara University from 2009-2013, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.

Nick comes from a family of athletes as his father coached hockey and his brother played college baseball. Nick continued that family tradition attending Santa Clara for his education and played basketball and then switched to the rugby team, the Santa Clara University Touring Side (SCUTS). The college does not have a football team, so rugby has provided the contact sport that many athletes seek.

Nick sustained injuries in rugby in college and didn’t return to rugby until joining the Glendale Raptors Sevens team in 2017 and has played with the team since then. He played with the Raptors in the inaugural MLR season and will continue to be a scoring threat on the wing in 2019.

Mile High Sports had an interesting interview with Raptors Head Coach David Williams after a match 53-3 win in 2017 against Rugby Utah. The initial part of the interview discusses Nick’s three-try second-half performance and his improvement as a player.

Austin Gilgronis Comments

AG Rugby is delighted to announce the signing of American winger Nick Johnson. The Denver, Colorado native adds even more firepower to an already dangerous AG’s back-three unit.

AG Head Coach Sam Harris has been most impressed by Johnson’s keen understanding of the game. “In Nick, I saw a player that’s hungry for work and a good finisher that’s stout on defense and had a good read on him,” says Harris. “Now what I’m seeing is that he’s a very well-educated rugby player – and a natural rugby player at that, the game comes easy to him.”

“Joining this team is a huge opportunity for me to continue to play professional rugby in a place in a new environment, with new coaches, and I’m just ready to take all that on and help the team win,” says Johnson. “This last week has been a really awesome experience getting a fast-tracked education into what it means to be an AG, and all the guys and staff have made it easy.” It helps that the team happens to be on its first-ever three-game winning streak.

The wing is already familiar with Will Magie and Bryce Campbell after having been backline running mates with the USA Eagles duo for two years in Colorado with the Glendale Raptors.

“Having former teammates in your new squad definitely helps, but I’ve also really enjoyed soaking up the different energies and ideas from the guys in the HQ,” says Johnson.

Johnson joins Magie in a hot back-three unit that also includes: speedster Rodrick Waters, Rookie of the year front-runner Conner Mooneyham, Canadian-international wings Cole Davis and Jeff Hassler, fan-favorite fullback Zinzan Elan-Puttick,  and former All Blacks wing Frank Halai. 

Johnson will be more of a bruiser ball-carrier than his back-three teammates.

Sam Harris believes Nick Johnson will work into the lineup soon enough, “He’s been a valuable asset to the team already and I have no doubt he’ll play for the AGs this year it’s just a matter of timing.”

Welcome to the AGs, Nick Johnson! 

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant