Martin Iosefo and Matai Leuta Exit USA Sevens Residency

USA Rugby Release

Following two illustrious careers in sevens, Olympians Martin Iosefo and Matai Leuta have announced their departure from the USA Sevens Residency program. Both athletes spent the past seven years with the program, making their respective debuts in the 2014-15 season and going on to help the United States claim its most notorious and record-breaking achievements on the World Stage.

While the duo has decided to leave their roles with USA Sevens, they also look ahead to the next chapter of their rugby careers. Leuta has already signed with the Houston SaberCats of Major League Rugby and Iosefo will announce his next move in the coming months. Both players will continue their pursuit of international rugby in the 15s.

Head Coach Mike Friday said:

“I can’t express our gratitude to both Marty and Matai for all they have done over the years to support this program and leave a legacy for the next generation.

“They have been mainstays in everything we’ve done these last seven years and are very much part of the heartbeat of The Pioneers in repositioning the USA in the landscape of sevens. These two have inspired numerous young Americans to play this game and chase their Olympic dreams.

“Marty and Matai are fantastic players and have represented their country with passion and commitment on the pitch. But, more than that, these two are good men who support their teammates in good and bad times and possess the character traits of true leaders.

“I am lucky to have been able to run with them and I have no doubt they will make huge impacts in their next adventures. I’ll be following their next chapters closely and we will always be there if they need us.”

Martin Iosefo said:

“I am grateful to have been part of the USA Sevens residency program.  A once in a lifetime opportunity to train full-time as a national team athlete and compete regularly in the World Series, World Cup, and the Olympics.  It’s been a great honor to represent my country, the jersey, family, and friends. I hope to inspire the next generation of future Olympians and ruggers to pursue their dreams.

“My next chapter is mostly focused on being with family and raising our firstborn son. In rugby, I’ll be making a push for 15s.  I’m looking forward to this transition in hopes of another World Cup in 2023.”

Matai Leuta said:

“This journey has been amazing.  I’ve grown through every step of the way with a group of guys who I love and can call my brothers. It’s been my honor to wear the jersey for the past seven years and I hope I represented this country well.

“As one chapter ends, another begins. The opportunity to play in the MLR is exciting and allows me to continue to play at a high level as well as explore other ventures in life outside of the game.”

Collective Achievements

Both Iosefo and Leuta were involved in the USA’s first-ever gold medal in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London 2015. They followed with another first-ever gold on home soil at Vegas 2018 which was followed by a consecutive gold at Vegas 2019 during the most successful season in history for the Eagles Sevens.

During that season (2018-19), the United States claimed seven medals in 10 tournaments, as the only nation to reach every semifinal, and held a No. 1 world ranking until the final stop in Paris. Iosefo and Leuta were instrumental through that period, helping the squad become the first men’s team to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and finishing the year as World No. 2.

Off the pitch, both players have led by example, inspiring and mentoring the numerous youngsters who came after them to position the program properly for years to come. While the departure of Iosefo and Leuta create new opportunities for the next generation, it goes without saying that both leave behind significantly large shoes to fill as the program enters its next chapter.

Martin Iosefo

Iosefo is one of just five USA Sevens players to reach 50 tournaments in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, making him a legend in his own right. He’s a two-time Olympian, Pan American Games Bronze Medalist, and helped the US achieve its highest-ever finish in a Rugby World Cup Sevens at San Francisco in 2018.

Iosefo Career Totals

  • 278 World Series matches
  • 50 World Series tournaments
  • 79 World Series Tries
  • 2015 Pan American Games, Bronze Medalist
  • 2016 Rio Olympics
  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens
  • Debut at Dubai 2014

Matai Leuta

Leuta has racked up 44 World Series caps which is no small achievement in more than six years since his senior national team debut. He’s a 2020 Olympian and also helped the USA to its highest-ever finish at a Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco 2018. Leuta’s physicality, work rate, and leadership on and off the field were the difference in achieving monumental wins over the past several seasons.

Leuta Career Totals

  • 215 World Series matches
  • 44 World Series tournaments
  • 31 World Series tries
  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens
  • Debut at Hong Kong 2015

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant