Strengthening our international partnerships

Expanding the profile of ACT Rugby and the club itself, the Gungahlin Eagles have formalised partnerships with both Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo and American Raptors which will see some new faces join our playing group for the remainder of the 2024 season.

These partnerships come off the back of a successful collaboration in 2023, where four American Raptors players Ronan Murphy, Cassh Maluia, Ryan James and Payton Telea-Ilalio arrived mid way through the season. At the time they were competing in the Super Rugby Americas Competition, and after a few months at the Eagles’ each player returned to sign MLR contracts at various clubs.

With 12 weeks left of the John I Dent Cup, the Eagles will leverage these partnerships to grow on and off the field. A strong mutual trust has been established between the clubs, which provides our administration an incredible insight to the inner workings of professional environments such as Ricoh and the Raptors, and even more so it affords our own players the opportunity to train and play alongside full-time rugby players.

Joining us from Black Rams Tokyo is Reijiro Yamamoto (2nd Row), Otoya Kihara (Backrow), Taishi Tsumura (Prop), Shu Yamamoto (2nd Row), and Ichigo Nakakusu (Outside back).

Joining us from the American Raptors is Isikeli Kava (Prop), Watson Filikitonga (Centre), and Ma’ake Muti (Prop).

Eagles Head Coach Locky McCaffrey says anything that improves the standard of our playing group and hopefully ACT rugby is nothing but a good thing.

“These partnerships are an opportunity for all of us to learn and grow. That includes our coaches, our admin, of course the players, even our opposition, everyone”

“Rugby is so different in every country around the world, what a great opportunity for us to see how these players prepare and compete no matter which grade they slot into. Of course they’ll add some quality and depth, but they’re also here to experience our club culture and Australian rugby”

“I really look forward to seeing how these boys go. Their clubs have put a lot of faith in the John I Dent Cup and the Gungahlin Eagles to be an environment where they’ll be playing quality rugby. I’m sure our Eagles family will embrace them immediately and show how excited we are to have them”

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