The junior Olympics kicked off this October in Buenos Aires, with rugby included for the second year. The USA will compete in men’s division, but unfortunately, did not qualify in the women’s division. With that said, the Northern California region has much to be proud of as there are three of our own competing with Team USA! Zach Neff and Junior Waqavesi, who hail from Sacramento, along with Isaia Kruse who hails from Fresno will represent the USA as they take on Argentina, Samoa, Japan, France, and South Africa.
Isaia Kruse, born American Samoa and raised in Fresno, CA, started his rugby career with Bullard Rugby Club and has committed to continue his academic and playing career at Fresno State. Isaia has been playing rugby since he was 10 years old playing alongside senior members. Bullard Head Coach, Paul Carter states,
“For his size, Isaia is very aggressive and very strong and manipulates defenders very well. His ability to read defenders and use the flow of the game to manage the opposition is commendable. He has always been a great athlete to coach and a fine leader. We are very proud of his efforts and elated to see him representing our region and our country on the world stage.”
Zach Neff and Inoke ‘Junior’ Waqavesi are both born and raised in Sacramento, CA, They both began playing at the Land Park Rugby club and then attended and played for the CK McClatchy Rugby Club. Junior has been a part of the USA 7s team for the past several months, working alongside the teams as they prepare for their 7s series. Highlighted by the Olympic Channel this past month, Jonior has been training hard and learning all he can from the veterans, especially East Palo Alto’s own Folou Nuia, who has been mentoring Junior.
Zach will be attending the University of California, Berkeley, and play rugby for the Golden Bears once his Junior Olympic campaign is over. Zach, who gained admittance into the esteemed university on his own accolades, is excited to continue being a great ambassador of the game.
We are excited and proud of these three young men who are representing not just our region, but our country, with such ability and character. We wish them the best of luck and back them all the way! Games will start Saturday, October 13th, and continue through Monday, October 15th. You can receive live updates on Twitter from @USARugby. Go USA!