NOLA Gold Rugby Club’s Tesimoni Tongauiha begins his first year of a two-year contract extension through the 2023 Major League Rugby season. The 26-year-old flanker/No.8 is 6’2″ and 235 lbs.
Moni joined NOLA Gold after playing rugby 7s and 15s with Life West in 2018. He has played in 41 matches, starting 26, played 2261 minutes, and scored 6 tries. He has made a huge impact on the team the last two years.
In 2021 he played 949 minutes in 16 matches, starting 13 and scoring 2 tries. His performance had him making his USA National TEam XVs debut against Canada in the Americas 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifier. His second test was against the New Zealand All Blacks at FebEX Field on October 9, 2021.
Moni played 352 minutes, starting all five matches during the pandemic shortened 2020 season, scoring 3 tries. In 2019 he played 388 minutes in 12 matches, starting twice. In 2018 he played 572 minutes in 8 matches, starting 6, and scoring one try.
Moni grew up in Oakland, California where he played rugby for the Oakland Warthogs in high school. He then joined the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy and benefited from the coaching of Kevin Battle.
Kevin Battle, head coach of the Santa Barbara Rugby Academy indicated in Tongauiha’s 2015 player profile that “Tesimoni ‘Moni’ Tongauiha is the ideal mid-field back: big, fast and tenacious. He brings another element too, as he is a skilled ball distributor and a real student of the game. Keep your eye out for Moni, as he will accomplish great things.”
In October 2016, Moni scored the opening try for the Santa Barbra NDA as they beat the New Zealand Institute of Sport 32-24. Curtis Reed of This is American Rugby reported on the match. He later went to New Zealand and played with the New Zealand Institute of Sport.
He then played outside center at Life West in 2017, where the team beat the Austin Blacks to advance to the National Club quarterfinals where they lost to Belmont Shore.
August 10, 2017, Tongauiha was selected as a reserve for the USA Islanders match against Saracens at the Bermuda National Sports Centre. The Saracens used the match as a preseason camp in advance of beginning their Aviva Premiership Rugby season.
Tui Osborne, St. Bonaventure Men’s Rugby Head Coach, was a member of the coaching staff for the USA Islanders. Osborne discussed Tongauiha as a player, indicating that “he is a skillful center when you need him to distribute and an elusive runner with ball in hand.”