The Runner Sports

Psalm Wooching Dreams Of Playing For The Eagles 15s

“My dream is to play for the Eagles 15s,” these are the words of Psalm Wooching, an inspiration for rugby players currently playing football. He’s an example of who rugby development needs to reach. He represents the future of rugby greatness in the US. Wooching is a fast rising star on the US rugby landscape and in a rugby world where US eligible players like Sam Underhill chose to pursue international selection elsewhere, Psalm Wooching has chosen his rugby dream of being an Eagle over a future in the NFL. “Rugby was actually my first sport,” says Psalm “I started playing in Hawaii at a young age, and through rugby I got into playing football.”

His star is on the rise around the globe as well; he recently signed to play with Harlequins 10s hoping to one day play in the UK. I have a vision of the future with him as the face of Major League Rugby in a Seattle Saracens kit. “MLR will get the exposure rugby needs in America,” he said, and I hope he elects to be a part of that exposure and US growth.

“I think that the best thing to get rugby known in the States is to get it on TV, nowadays there are so many people and kids that watch television and it would be a perfect way to promote the sport.” With NBC and CBS broadcasting Premiership and US college rugby, the future of the sport’s growth is via television and with players like Wooching, the MLR would have the name recognition to gain casual viewers.

Hawaii

Growing up in Hawaii, Psalm played for the Kona Bulls under coach John Nu’uali’itia and Moa Noble. The Kona Bulls are one of eight youth clubs on both Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii is the home of his favorite pitch; of all the places he’s played his “favorite pitch is still the Kapiolani Park pitch” near Waikiki on Oahu. I’ve seen the pitch in person, and it is a beautiful sight with iconic Diamond Head in the distance and the surf a drop kick away. Hawaii is a hidden gem of rugby, maybe with Psalm’s notoriety rugby tournaments will find their way to the islands.

I asked Psalm about talent in Hawaii: “Rugby on the islands consists of big hits and hidden talent, there are so many good players that haven’t yet been exposed that have the skill and the talent to make it big.” I’ve always said Hawaii should be a 7s tournament stop for US Club Rugby or D1A; when asked what he thought about taking 7s to the islands he said: “The main thing is to get the islands exposed by tournaments…broadcasted nation wide telling people that there is rugby going on there at a high-level as well.”

UW and Saracens

Washington linebacker Psalm Wooching celebrates after he sacked Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns (not shown) during an NCAA college football game, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Psalm took that high-level environment and turned it into playing D1 college football with the¬†University of Washington where he took that opportunity to play rugby with the Huskies and MLR club Seattle Saracens. “I did play rugby while at the W, I played for the Seattle Saracens and the University of Washington.” Saracens and Eagles Mike Palefau, Shalom Suniula, Kevin Swiryn, and Peter Tiberio are not only Wooching’s neighbors but “are the biggest influencers” in his rugby career “at this point.” For a player who models his diverse style after Manu and Alesana Tuilagi, those four Eagles are not a bad combination of influences. It’s Tuilagi’s “strong ball carrying and ferocious tackling…suits me the best.”

Physicality and the Future

Psalm is a proponent of the more physical style of play; the big hit over the big try. When asked about the defensive style of rugby as it tied to football he offered up that “Atavus rugby tackling technique has spread to UW, it is mostly why we were so successful this past season on the defensive side of the ball.”

“My dream is to play for the Eagles 15s,” he told me “and once that happens I will make my move to the UK hopefully.” Well don’t take this wrong Psalm but hopefully you become a keystone player for the MLR. His story should be an inspiration to Hawaiian rugby players as well as football players on the fence about rugby. He could very likely be a catalyst to bridge the gap between football and rugby in the US.

Highlights