Seattle Seawolves re-signed Riekert Hattingh through the 2023 Major League Rugby season, his fifth with the team. The 27-year-old (28 in March) No.8 is 6’5″ and 245 lbs.
Riekert, the team’s captain, played 1040 minutes in 13 starts and scored 3 tries for the Seawolves in 2021. He became U.S. Eligible based on residency, and made his USA National Team debut against England, followed by playing against Ireland in July.
After being selected as captain for the 2018 MLR season, he received a concussion during week one of the season and spent much of his time working with the forwards as an unofficial coach. He returned to play toward the end of the 2018 season, playing 236 minutes, with 4 starts and one try.
In 2019 Riekert played 1358 minutes in 17 starts, scored 8 tries, had 197 carries for 1324 meters, made 219 tackles, 13 tackle breaks, and had 58 lineout takes.
In 2020 he started all 5 matches, and played all 400 minutes, scoring 5 tries. Following the season, he played with the Ohio Aviators Tens at the World Tens Series in Bermuda.
He has also been included in the Eagles National Team training squad after being eligible to represent USA Rugby Men’s National Team on June 1, 2019, based on the World Rugby required 36 consecutive months of residence. Riekert made his debut for the USA Men’s National team on on July 4, 2021, against England and played the following week against Ireland.
Riekert grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, and attended Pretoria North High School where he graduated in 2012. While in high school he played for the Blue Bulls under-16 and under-18 sides. In 2013, he continued to progress and became a contracted player with the Blue Bulls, playing for the under 19s. In 2014 he was part of the Golden LionsVodacom Cup squad, which is from Johannesburg.
In 2015 Riekert came to the United States and played with the Austin Blacks. He returned to South Africa to play with the Blue Bulls 2016 Super Rugby squad and also played for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
In 2016 he was part of the first professional league in the United States where he played for the Ohio Aviators. He also played for Scioto Valley/Columbus Rugby in 2016-17 and has been a Tiger Rugby Academy Coach in 2016-17.
Hattingh was also involved with rugby sevens in 2018, playing with Washington Athletic Club at the USA Rugby Club 7s Nationals.
Hattingh has also coached with Tiger Rugby Academy and will be excellent in that role for Academy Rugby in the area.
Riekert had family rugby role models to follow. Professional rugby runs in the family as his dad, Drikus Hattingh, and his uncle, Ruben Kruger were both Springboks. Riekert indicated that “rugby has always been part of my life and dream since I could remember like most boys in South Africa. I do what I love every day and I’m excited to play some good rugby again and be part of the inaugural season of Major League Rugby and join a great team like the Seattle Seawolves. The only challenges that there is in playing professional rugby, especially overseas, is being away from the family and not seeing them a lot.”
In an article by Mark Janzen, Hattingh indicates that “I like the American lifestyle. It’s exciting being part of the next big thing. Everyone talks about America being the sleeping giant of rugby, so being able to come over and be part of the growth is what I enjoy.”
Teammate Mike Palefau, who has USA Rugby caps with both the 15s and sevens teams, said “He’s a good leader in the forward pack and he runs all the lineouts. He pretty much teaches the guys all the little tricks that the casual fan might not even notice. He’s good at breaking down techniques in the rucks and counter rucks and those sorts of things.”
The Seattle Seawolves describe that “Hattingh loves to break through the gaps and find his support with offloads, which helped the Seawolves clinch the Major League Rugby Championship in the Final versus Glendale. Riekert brings the perfect blend of rugby IQ and athleticism to his role.”
DJCoil Rugby Interview
Following the Rugby United New York 2019 match against the Seattle Seattle Seawolves, Doug Coil interviewed Riekert Hattingh at MCU Park.