Old Glory DC will have Fijian Apisai Naikatini returning for the 2022 Major League Rugby season, his third year with the team. The 36-year-old lock (37in April) is 6’5″and 260 lbs.
Api appeared in 14 matches, starting 12, during the 2021 season. He played 833 minutes, carried for 424 meters over 104 ball carries, had 84 successful tackles, and arrived at 173 rucks.
Api started three matches and played 170 minutes during the truncated 2020 inaugural Old Glory DC season. During 2019, he played for the Seattle Seawolves. He appeared in 16 of the team’s 18 matches, including the 2019 MLR Championship. He played for 821 minutes, has 121 ball carries while carrying for 544 meters. He scored 1 try and had 14 lineout takes.
Api was born in Nadi, Fiji, and attended Marist Brothers High School and Natabua High School. While in New Zealand he also attended Wanganui City College.
He played club rugby for Northern United RFC in Wellington beginning in 2006 and provincial rugby with Wellington from 2006-2013, making 39 appearances. He played in the 2007 Air New Zealand Cup, helping the team advance to the final. They would also return to the final in 2008 and 2009.
In 2007 Api provided the Argentina 7s team with injury cover at the Wellington 7s. He played in the last match, but was not capped, allowing him to later play with the Fiji 15s team in 2012.
Api also played for the Super Rugby Hurricanes in 2009, coming in as a replacement against the Cheetahs. He also played for the Hurricanes B side in the 2011 Pacific Rugby Cup. During Wellington’s off-season, Api played in the Top League for the Toyota Verblitz from 2011-13.
Api made his international debut for Fiji in the 2012 IRB Pacific Nations Cup at lock and scored his first try the following year with the team winning the 2013 PNC. He would make 18 appearances with the National team between 2012-2015, starting 16 times. He was also named to the extended squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup but ultimately had non-traveling reserve status. The last of his tests was against the Cook Islands at Suva, June 28, 2014.
In 2013 he returned to Wellington and helped the team win the ITM Cup. In December 2013 he signed with Top 14 Brive for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season and then switched to Agen for 2014-2015. Then it was onto Abuenas in the French Fédérale 1 before returning to New Zealand to play club rugby with Johnsonville.
In 2019 Api applied his athletic skills for the Seattle Seawolves. He was an aerial threat on kickoffs and in lineouts. Since winning the Major League Rugby Championship in 2019. Since then, Naikatini spent the summer playing the second row with Waikato Rugby Union in New Zealand before signing with Old Glory DC. for the 2020 season.
Old Glory DC Comments
“I thank God for allowing me to still play this amazing sport,” said Naikatini on continuing with DC for 2022. “I am honored and blessed to be back for another season with DC and to be representing the DMV area that has a rich history of rugby here in the United States.”
“We saw at the end of last season how valuable Api is to this side,” said Head Coach Andrew Douglas. “His experience and defensive qualities demand respect in this league. He’s an important ingredient to the Old Glory future, and it’s great to see the loyalty to the OG family. We’re proud to have him back.”