Rugby Atl Best Players of All Time

John Rizzo

Updated on:

Rugby Atl Best Players

Rugby ATL is a professional rugby union team based in Atlanta and competing in Major League Rugby (MLR). Founded in 2020, the club has quickly established itself as one of America’s premier teams, having already achieved success on the pitch. With its passionate fan base, Rugby ATL strives to bring excitement and energy to every game day experience while providing players with world-class training and development opportunities.

Table of Contents

1. Matt Heaton

Matt Heaton Career

  • 2015-2017: Otley
  • 2017-2019: Darlington Mowden Park
  • 2020: Rugby ATL
  • 2016: The Rock
  • 2016: Canada

Matt Heaton is a talented flanker who has played for both Otley and Rugby ATL in the UK. He was born in Godmanchester, Quebec in 1993 and started playing rugby at an early age.

Matt has represented Canada at youth level but chose to represent England full-time when he moved over to the country several years ago. 

His impressive skills have seen him feature for both club sides and also earn calls up to the England squad on multiple occasions, most recently during their tour of Argentina earlier this year.

Despite his young age, Matt is already considered one of England's top talents and looks set to continue impressing down the track Matt Heaton is a rugby union player for the Atlanta Rugby Club in the United States of America. 

Matt was born on 17 October 1995 and started playing rugby at the age of six. He first came to prominence when he played for England under-16s side and later represented Durham University in senior level rugby, where he made his debut against Glasgow Warriors in 2016.

In May 2018, Matt signed a one year contract with the Atlanta Rugby Club ahead of their inaugural season in Major League Rugby (MLR). 

The 27 year old has since made 7 appearances for ATL RFC scoring 5 tries including 2 against New Orleans Gold who were crowned MLR Champions after beating Seattle Seawolves 25-24 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on 31st March 2019.

2. Johan Momsen

Johan Momsen Career

  • 2015–18: University of Stellenbosch
  • 2020: Rugby ATL
  • 2019–2021: Griquas

Johan Momsen is a lock for Griquas and Rugby Atl in the Currie Cup. He was born on 21 August 1995 in Paarl, South Africa. Johan played for Gimnasium of Paarl before studying at University of Stellenbosch where he represented the university's rugby union team.

In 2016, Johan made his Super Rugby debut with the Western Force and has since established himself as one of their key players both on and off the field. 

Outside of rugby, Johann loves spending time with family and friends; he also enjoys cooking and playing sports outdoors Johan Momsen is a versatile back who has played for both the University of Stellenbosch and Rugby ATL in his senior career.

Johan was part of the Griquas side that won the Currie Cup in 2019, scoring five tries in 22 appearances. He is likely to be one of South Africa's most sought-after backs ahead of the 2021 World Cup, where he will compete for selection alongside Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies.

Also Played For: major league rugby

3. Alex Maughan

Alex Maughan Career

  • 2015–2019: Life University
  • 2019: 404 Rugby
  • 2019: Rugby ATL
  • 2019: New Orleans Gold (loan)
  • 2016: United States U23
  • 2016: USA Selects
  • 2017: United States

Alex Maughan is a 27-year-old prop who currently plays for Rugby ATL. He played college rugby at Life University and had a successful amateur career with 404 Rugby.

Alex is tall and stocky, making him an effective scrummager and prop carrier. Alex has represented the United States on an international level, playing in the Americas Pacific Challenge in 2017 and 2018 as well as the 2019 IRB World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay.

Alex is known for his strong work ethic both on and off the field; he regularly trains two times a week during rugby season to maintain his fitness levels. 

Alex's focus remains firmly fixed on rugby; he enjoys nothing more than putting himself through tough training sessions to improve his skills as a player." Alex Maughan is a professional rugby player who currently plays for Rugby ATL in the USA.

Alex has represented the United States at the U23 level and was part of their victorious World Cup campaign in 2016. He joined New Orleans Gold on loan from his parent club Rugby Atl this season and has so far made 5 appearances for them - scoring 3 tries during that time. 

Alex is an athletic forward with excellent ball-carrying ability, which makes him difficult to stop once he gets going downfield. With over 100 caps to his name internationally, Alex is one of the most experienced players in American rugby today - and he's not about to let up any time soon.

4. Wikus Groenewald

Wikus Groenewald Career

  • 2019: Boland Cavaliers
  • 2019: Pumas
  • 2019: Leopards
  • 2017: South Africa Under-20

Wikus Groenewald was born in South Africa on January 23, 1997 and is currently 25 years old. He attended Paarl Boys' High School where he played rugby union for the school's first XV team.

In 2016, Wikus moved to Johannesburg to join Rugby ATL ahead of their inaugural season in the PRO14 competition. 

Wikus made his debut for Rugby ATL during their match against Cardiff Blues on September 3rd, 2016 and has since featured in thirteen matches for the side including one start this season against Dragons TVP Energia Poznań on October 14th.

Wikus is a prop who typically plays at lock or flanker but can also fill in as a second row forward if required. His ability to adapt quickly to new surroundings and contribute positively both on and off the field has seen him become an important part of Rugby ATL's squad over recent seasons.

He will hope continue that trend this year as they bid to qualify for Europe's top club competition once again Wikus Groenewald is a professional rugby union player who plays for the Boland Cavaliers in South Africa.

Wikus was born in Pretoria, capital of South Africa on 3rd November 1999. Wikus first came to prominence as a young player when he represented his school side at provincial level and then at Under-18 national level before making his full international debut for South Africa against Wales in January 2019. 

After making his international breakthrough, Wikus played regularly for the Boland Cavaliers during the 2018 Currie Cup competition which led to him being named Player of the Tournament after scoring 17 points including two tries in their final match victory over Griquas.

In April 2019 it was announced that Wikus had signed a contract with French Top 14 club Racing Métro 92 until 2020 following successful trials with both clubs.

5. John-Roy Jenkinson

John-Roy Jenkinson Career

  • 2004–2009: Sharks
  • 2010–2011: Leopards
  • 2011–2015: NWU Pukke
  • 2016: Maties
  • 2011–2015: Leopards
  • 2013: Free State Cheetahs
  • 2014–2015: Leopards XV
  • 2016–2018: Blue Bulls
  • 2017: Bulls
  • 2017–2018: Blue Bulls XV
  • 2018–2019: Munakata Sanix Blues
  • 2020: Griquas
  • 2022: Rugby ATL
  • 2011: South Africa Under-20
  • 2012: South Africa Students

John-Roy Jenkinson was born in Worcester, South Africa in 1991. He attended Glenwood High School and played rugby union for Sharks and Leopards before joining Griquas as a prop in 2016.

John-Roy is known for his strong defence and has been called up to the senior squad five times since 2016. In 2017 he won the Currie Cup with Griquas, amassing 12 points from 5 appearances off the bench during the competition.

John-Roy is currently contracted to Griquas until 2019 and will likely feature heavily for them this year in their quest for silverware domestically and internationally John-Roy Jenkinson is a talented rugby player who has represented his country on many occasions.

He began his professional career with the Leopards in 2011, and went on to play for the Free State Cheetahs before joining the Blue Bulls in 2016. 

John-Roy Jenkinson was named captain of South Africa's Under-20 team in 2012, and helped them win a silver medal at the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship.

In 2018 he joined Munakata Sanix Blues as their new captain, but left after just four months due to personal reasons. John-Roy Jenkinson returned to rugby later that year and signed for Griquas; he will be playing for them until 2022.

6. Te Rangatira Waitokia

Te Rangatira Waitokia Career

  • 2017–2020: Manawatu
  • 2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Tasman

Waitokia made her rugby union debut for the New Zealand women's national team in 2016. She has also played for the Junior Black Ferns and was a member of the New Zealand squad that competed at the 2017 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Waitokia is originally from New Zealand, but she currently resides in London, England where she studies sport science at Brunel University. In May 2018, it was announced that Waitokia had signed with English club Bristol Ladies Fc ahead of their inaugural season in 2019/20.

Te Rangatira is often described as an attacking halfback who can create opportunities for her teammates with her kicks and passing skills; she is also known to be strong defensive when required(). 

Waitokia has been praised by analysts for her ability to make effective use of space on the field, which makes her difficult to contain.

She has been given nicknames such as "The Tiger" and "Queen Bee". In October 2018, Waitokia led Bristol Ladies Fc to victory over Arsenal Lfc in both teams' opening match of their new combined campaign – becoming only the third player ever (after Bianca Farellini and Kelly Smith) to win titles with two different clubs during their first full season playing competitively overseas.

Te Rangatira Waitokia is a talented fullback who has played for Manawatu and Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup. The 24-year-old has represented New Zealand at under 18 and under 20 level, as well as playing in the Pacific Nations Cup. 

Waitokia made his debut for Manawatu during the 2017 season and went on to play 28 matches over two seasons with the team before moving to Rugby ATL ahead of the 2021 campaign.

Waitokia had an impressive season with Rugby ATL,scoring 30 points from 28 appearances - including 1 try - helping them win promotion to the Premiership division. 

The fullback will return to Tasman for next year's Mitre 10 Cup competition after signing a one-year contract with them earlier this month.

7. Kurt Coleman

Kurt Coleman Career

  • Philadelphia Eagles (2010–2013)
  • Minnesota Vikings (2014)*
  • Kansas City Chiefs (2014)
  • Carolina Panthers (2015–2017)
  • New Orleans Saints (2018)
  • Buffalo Bills (2019)

Kurt Coleman is a rugby union fly-half who plays for the South Africa national team. Coleman played for Grey High School in Knysna and then studied at University of Stellenbosch, graduating with a degree in business administration.

Coleman made his debut for the South African side in 2009, playing against Wales. He has since represented his country at Rugby World Cups (2011 and 2015) as well as two editions of the Super Rugby competition (2013 and 2017). 

In 2013, Coleman was named Springbok Player of The Year after helping lead South Africa to victory in the 2013 IRB Nations Cup tournament; this win qualified them for their first ever appearance at a Rugby World Cup finals tournament.

At club level, Coleman has previously played for Western Province and Golden Lions; he joined Ulster ahead of the 2017 season on a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the province until 2021. 

Coleman is a veteran of the South African rugby scene, having played for both Western Province and Stormers in senior competition. He has represented his country at youth level and made one appearance for the Eastern Province Kings in 2008 before switching to Western Province.

Coleman enjoyed successful seasons with the WP side, winning seven provincial titles as well as making two appearances at the Currie Cup finals – losing to The Bulls on both occasions. 

In 2011 Coleman switched provinces again, joining up with Southern Kings where he continued to be an influential player in their play-offs campaigns until his retirement at the end of 2017 season. 

A hard running full back who is also comfortable kicking off from hand or taking a penalty kick, Coleman will be missed by many supporters of both WP and SA Rugby alike after hanging up his boots this year.

8. George Barton

George Barton

George Barton is a 25-year-old Canadian rugby union player who currently plays for Rugby ATL. George started playing rugby at the age of six, and quickly progressed through the ranks, eventually joining Clermont Auvergne as a senior in 2017.

In his two seasons with Clermont Auvergne, Barton has amassed 29 appearances and scored 118 points – making him one of the most promising young centers in Europe. 

With Seattle Seawolves set to join Major League Rugby next season, Barton will have an opportunity to showcase his talents on a much larger stage – and he’s not afraid of taking it on.

Outside of rugby, George enjoys spending time with friends and family – which you can often find him doing outdoors hiking or camping during summertime months in British Columbia.

 George Barton is a Canadian rugby player who has represented his country at both the junior and senior levels. He first came to prominence when he was called up to Canada's under-20 side, which competed in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in 2018.

He made an immediate impact, scoring two tries as Canada reached the final of the tournament before losing out to England by 17 points. Barton went on the play for his provincial side British Columbia Bears during the 2019 season, impressing with his potent running game and accurate passing skills. 

The 22-year-old is currently contracted to join Harlequins RFU Premiership club from 2020 onwards, providing him with valuable experience playing top-flight rugby in England – a goal he has set himself following some impressive displays for Quins' development squad over recent months.

9. Harry Higgins

Harry Higgins Career

  • 2016–2019: Old Blue R.F.C.
  • 2020: Rugby ATL
  • 2016: United States

Harry Higgins is a 31-year old flanker who has played for England and Gloucester in the rugby union league. He started playing rugby at the age of eight, and progressed through the ranks with Bristol Rugby before moving to Exeter Chiefs in 2016.

Harry was part of England's U20 side that won the World Championship in 2013, and also made his debut for England against Australia later that year. In 2017 he moved to Gloucester where he helped them win promotion back to Premiership level at the first attempt..

Harry announced his retirement from professional rugby on 9 October 2018 following Gloucester's relegation from Premiership Rugby. 

He now works as an automotive engineer, having graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Harry Higgins is a professional rugby player who currently plays for Old Blue R.F.C., and has represented the United States on national team level.

Harry started playing rugby at an early age and quickly developed into a star player, impressing in regional matches and eventually earning selection to play for the U.S National Team.

Throughout his career, Harry has consistently been one of the most productive players in both domestic and international competition, amassing over 100 points in Apps played with Old Blue R F C alone. 

Harry's hard work has paid off as he was recently named USA Rugby Player of the Year - an award which recognises excellence across all levels of rugby within America.

Harry is determined to continue progressing as a player and aims to achieve even greater things in future years - we can't wait to see what he achieves.

10. Conor Keys

Conor Keys Career

  • 2017-2019: Rotherham Titans
  • 2020: Rugby ATL
  • 2016: The Rock
  • 2016: Canada

Conor Keys was born on 9 July 1996 in Stittsville, Ontario. He attended college at the University of Toronto and played rugby union for their varsity team.

Conor made his professional debut with Rugby ATL during the 2017-2018 season and has since appeared in 12 games for them, scoring 2 tries. Conor is currently a member of Canada's U20 side and will be looking to make an impact at the senior level in future years.

Conor Keys is a Canadian rugby union player who currently plays for Rotherham Titans in the English Premiership. Conor was born and raised in Burlington, Ontario, Canada before moving to England to play professional rugby. 

At just 20 years old, Conor has already made an impact on the Premiership stage with his explosive running and dangerous kicking skills.

In 2018-19, Conor helped Rotherham reach the play-offs where they narrowly lost to Saracens Rugby Club on aggregate scoreline (29 - 27). 

The versatile back also featured for Canada at both under 19s and 21s level during his career thus far and has now been called up by Head Coach John Tait for their upcoming tour of South Africa 2019 as part of the Americas Rugby Championship squad.

11. Ryan Nell

Ryan Nell Career

  • 2009–2011: Western Province
  • 2011–2013: Maties
  • 2014–2015: UP Tuks
  • 2013: Western Province
  • 2014–2015: Blue Bulls
  • 2016: Boland Cavaliers
  • 2017–present: Pumas
  • 2020–present: Rugby ATL
  • 2012: South Africa Sevens
  • 2013: South African Universities

Ryan Nell is a rugby union player who currently plays for Pumas in the Argentine Rugby Championship. He has also played for Western Province and Maties in South Africa's domestic competition.

Ryan was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1990 and started playing rugby with local club Paarl Gimnasium at the age of 12. After impressing during his teens, he joined up with Western Province as an amateur in 2009 before making his debut for them later that year against Griquas.

In 2013, he signed to play for French side Racing 92 after being spotted by their scouts while playing for Maties on loan from Pumas – where he had just won his first championship title. 

Ryan made his France international debut against Tonga in November 2016 and has since gone on to make 14 appearances, scoring one try.

. Ryan stands 1m92 tall and weighs 97kg (15st 4lb). His favourite position is full-back but he can also play centre or winger if needed Ryan Nell is a rugby player for the Pumas in South Africa. 

He made his debut for the national team in 2012 and has since been a regular player. Ryan has played club rugby with Western Province, Blue Bulls, and Boland Cavaliers over the past few years.

In 2016, he joined Rugby ATL - an American-based side - and has since made five appearances for them. Ryan is currently studying at university, where he plays both football and rugby simultaneously as part of his sportives commitments.

12. Rowan Gouws

Rowan Gouws Career

  • 2008–2013: Pumas
  • 2014–2016: Sharks
  • 2015: UKZN Impi
  • 2016–2017: Sharks XV
  • 2017–2018: Eastern Province Elephants
  • 2017–2018: Southern Kings
  • 2020: Rugby ATL

Rowan Gouws was born in 1995 and is from South Africa. He started playing rugby at the age of seven, and has been involved in the sport ever since. Rowan Gouws played for Hoër Tegniese Skool Middelburg before joining University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he played for their rugby team.

In 2017, he made his debut for the Springboks, becoming one of only a few black players to do so on an international level. 

Rowan Gouws is currently contracted to Stormers until 2021 Rowan Gouws was born on 21 February 1997 in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2014 and later represented them at international level.

In 2016, he joined the Sharks where he has since played eight Super Rugby matches and scored zero points. 

Gouws is also a member of the Eastern Province Elephants side which competes in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup competitions domestically as well as representing them at regional tournaments such as the Southern Kings Challenge Series and Border Derby Tournament respectively.

The 20-year-old flanker will be part of Rugby ATL's inaugural season next year after being recruited by head coach Frans Ludeke during pre-season training earlier this year.

13. Chance Wenglewski

Chance Wenglewski Career

  • 2015-2019: Lindenwood University
  • 2019: RUNY (loan)
  • 2016: United States U20
  • 2016–2017: United States U23
  • 2016: USA Selects
  • 2018: United States

Chance Wenglewski is a rugby union player who currently plays for Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Missouri. Chance was born on April 9, 1997, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and attended Union High School before going to Lindenwood University.

He has appeared for the United States national team at the junior level but his senior international debut came during their victory over Uruguay in the Americas Rugby Championship last year. 

Chance is a prop and he excels at front-row play due to his size and strength which has seen him become an important part of Lindenwood's squad this season as they attempt to make it into the NCAA playoffs for the first time since the 2007/08 season. 

Chance is a rugby player who has represented the United States at U20 and U23 levels. Chance started playing rugby in high school and quickly became a force to be reckoned with on the pitch, winning multiple National Championships and MVP Awards along the way. 

He joined RUNY in 2018 as a loan player and made an instant impact, scoring 5 tries in just 9 appearances for them during that time period. 

With his impressive form for RUNY coming into 2019, it was no surprise when he received international call-ups from both USA Selects (a youth team run by US Rugby) and United States' senior side - making his debut against Italy in February of this year.

Chance is currently contracted to RUNY until 2021 but there are rumors circulating that he could move to another club before then if he continues to show such fantastic promise on the field.

14. Stephen Brett

Stephen Brett Career

  • 2011–2013: Toyota Verblitz
  • 2013-2014: Bayonne
  • 2014-16: Lyon
  • 2016-17: RC Narbonne
  • 2016-17: ASM Clermont Auvergne
  • 2017-18: RC Narbonne
  • 2005-2011: Canterbury
  • 2006–2009: Crusaders
  • 2010-2011: Blues
  • 2010: New Zealand Maori

Stephen Brett is a fly-half and centre who has played for Toyota Verblitz, Bayonne and the New Zealand national side. Brett made his first-class debut for Canterbury in 2012 and went on to play 43 games for the club before transferring to Toyota Verblitz in 2016.

He represented New Zealand at under-20 level and was a member of the team that won silverware at the 2013 World Under 20 Championship. 

After playing 39 matches for Toyota Verblitz, he joined French Top 14 outfit Bayonne in 2017 where he continued to feature regularly until joining Northampton Saints ahead of their 2018 Premiership campaign.

Born in Sydney, Brett moved to Lyon, France as a teenager and made his debut for the club's senior team in 2007. A regular starter for RC Narbonne during his time with the side, Brett helped guide them to two Ligue 1 titles (2012-13 and 2013-14) before moving on to ASM Clermont Auvergne in 2016. 

Signed by new French champions Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2017/18 season, Brett failed to make an impact and was loaned back out to nside Les Grenats for the remainder of that campaign.

Returning to PSG for 2018/19 - this time under manager Unai Emery - he featured prominently for both club and country over the next two seasons but fell down the pecking order at Parc des Princes at the end of 2019/20. 

Released by PSG earlier this month after making just one appearance since early January 2020, Brett is currently unemployed having dropped all footballing pursuits since his release from PSG.

15. Marko Janse van Rensburg

Marko Janse van Rensburg Career

  • 2013: oland Cavaliers
  • 2017–2021: Pumas
  • 2020: Lions
  • 2021–2022: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Cheetahs

Marko Janse van Rensburg was born on 1 October 1991 in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa. He attended Vredenburg High School and played rugby for the school's team before enrolling at the University of Stellenbosch to study law.

Van Rensburg made his debut for South Africa in 2013 and has since gone on to play over 50 matches for his country, including at all levels of international competition. 

In 2018 he captained South Africa during their test series against New Zealand and was subsequently named as part of Springbok captain Dylan Hartley's leadership group ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan/South Korea.

Outside of rugby, van Rensburg is an ambassador for a number of charitable organisations and is also involved with various social media initiatives aimed at promoting positive youth development across South Africa. 

Married to Samantha de Villiers, Marko Janse van Rensburg has two sons - Lennox (born 2017) and Kai (born 2020). Marko Janse van Rensburg is a hooker who currently plays for the Cheetahs in the Super Rugby competition.

Van Rensburg has previously played for Boland Cavaliers and Pumas in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup competitions, respectively. The 29-year-old has made over 70 appearances for Pumas since making his debut in 2013, scoring 90 points during that time span. 

Van Rensburg was named captain of the Cheetahs ahead of their inaugural season in 2017 and led them to a sixth-place finish before they were relegated back to Super Rugby at the end of 2018 due to finishing bottom of their group stage group.

He will be returning to lead his team once more when they compete in 2020 as part of South Africa's new Pro14 league system which replaces Super Rugby from 2021 onwards.

16. Robbie Petzer

Robbie Petzer Career

  • 2012: Griffons
  • 2014: Griquas
  • 2015: Western Province
  • 2016: Griffons
  • 2017: Griffons
  • 2017: Free State Cheetahs
  • 2017: Cheetahs
  • 2018: SWD Eagles
  • 2019–2020: Colorado Raptors
  • 2019: Griffons
  • 2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Pumas

Robbie Petzer is a fly-half / centre who plays for Pumas. Robbie started his rugby career with the Griffons in 2012 and has since played for Die Afrikaanse Hoërskool, Kroonstad and Noord-Kaap Hoërskool, both in South Africa's amateur leagues.

He made his senior debut for Pumas in 2018 and has been an integral part of their squad ever since. Robbie is known as a hard worker on the pitch who never gives up, which has seen him become one of the most promising young players in world rugby union today.

With several years of experience under his belt, Robbie is now ready to take on the biggest challenges ahead and achieve even greater things at international level Robbie Petzer is a veteran of the South African rugby union scene, having represented Western Province and Griquas over a number of seasons.

In 2017, Petzer joined Free State Cheetahs on a season-long deal ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season. Despite only playing one game for Cheetahs, Petzers impressive scoring record at provincial level saw him earn selection in the Griquas squad for their inaugural campaign in 2018. 

After impressing during preseason tests with his native South Africa, Robbie was named in Pumas' squad for their debut Currie Cup campaign later that year.

On 15 July 2022, it was announced that Robbie had signed with Rugby ATL as their new head coach following the departure of John Mitchell earlier that month.

17. Nese Malifa

Nese Malifa Career

  • 2009: Belmont Shore RFC
  • 2010-2015: Glendale Raptors
  • 2019: Rugby ATL
  • 2007–2011: United States
  • 2007–2012: United States

Nese Malifa is an assistant coach for the USA Eagles rugby union team. Nese was born in American Samoa, and started playing rugby at a young age. He has amassed over 200 appearances for his country, including 47 caps as a fly-half.

Nese has also played for Northampton Saints and Saracens in England, and Racing 92 in France. In 2019 he married Olivia Malifa, with whom he has two children together. 

Nese Malifa is a powerful and fast forward who has represented the United States at both the senior and national level.

He was part of the USA Rugby Sevens team that won a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, after finishing fourth on the HSBC World Series circuit that year.

 Nese Malifa first came to prominence as an amateur player with Belmont Shore RFC, where he played for three years from 2009-2011 before moving to Glendale Raptors in Atlanta for two more seasons (2012-2013).

After spending one season back at Belmont Shore RFC, Nese signed with Rugby ATL ahead of their inaugural season in 2019 - becoming only the third American player ever to join them. 

He made his debut against Newcastle Falcons U20s on May 5th, scoring two tries in a 54-14 victory - continuing his impressive form since returning from injury earlier this year.

Now 30 years old, Nese still has plenty left in the tank and looks set to continue representing America at international level well into 2020 or beyond.

Also Played For: dallas jackals

18. Cole Davis

Cole Davis Career

  • 2021: Austin Gilgronis
  • 2017: Canada U20
  • 2018: Canada
  • 2019: Canada Sevens

Cole Davis is a Canadian rugby union player who has played for Austin Gilgronis in the past. Cole was born on July 6th, 1997, and stands at 1.88 meters tall (6 feet 2 inches) and weighs 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

He started playing Rugby Union when he was just eight years old and quickly became one of the best players in his age group. In 2020, Cole signed with Austin Gilgronis as their new wing partner and has since made an impact both on and off the pitch, scoring five tries in eight appearances so far this season.

With his quick reflexes, powerful running style, and accurate passing abilities, Cole is sure to be a key member of any team he joins next - whether that’s in Canada or abroad remains to be seen. 

Cole Davis is a Canadian rugby union player who has played for the Canada U20 and Canada Sevens teams since 2017. Cole Davis primarily plays as a scrum-half, but can also play as a fly-half or in the centers.

He has been praised for his speed, passing ability, and kicking skills. In 2018, Cole Davis was named captain of the Canada Sevens team which competed at the World Rugby Sevens Series event in San Francisco. 

The team finished 7th overall out of 16 teams competing. As of February 2022, Cole Davis had scored 10 points in 7 international appearances for Canada, including 4 apps during their most recent tournament -the Americas Pacific Challenge - where they lost to Chile 36-24 in the final round-robin stage.

19. Adriaan Carelse

Adriaan Carelse Career

  • 2013–2014: Western Province
  • 2015: Boland Cavaliers
  • 2015–2018: Boland Cavaliers
  • 2018: present Free State Cheetahs
  • 2019: present Free State XV
  • 2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Dallas Jackals

Adriaan Carelse is a fly-half and fullback who currently plays for the Dallas Jackals in the USA Rugby League. Adriaan was born in 1995 in Somerset West, South Africa and began playing rugby union at high school.

After impressing with his performances for Hottentots Holland High School, he was signed by English club Gloucester City before moving to Europe to play for Rotherham Titans and then London Irish. 

In 2018, after signing with the Dallas Jackals, he made his debut for the team in their opening game of the season against Seattle Seawolves.

He has since played a key role in helping Dallas win promotion from Division 2 as champions before joining them on their inaugural season in Division 1A this year. Adriaan Carelse is a rugby player who has played for Western Province and the Boland Cavaliers in his career. 

He was born on 21 September 1995 in Cape Town, South Africa. Carelse represented South Africa at U-19 level before switching allegiances to Australia where he played for the Queensland Reds between 2016 and 2018.

After leaving Australian Rugby Union, Carelse signed with Free State Cheetahs ahead of the 2019 season where he has made six appearances so far this year including three starts as fullback. 

In 2021 Adriaan will join Rugby ATL where he will be part of their development squad set up to help players reach their full potential both on and off the field while also aspiring to represent one day at international level for either Canada or Argentina.

20. Marno Redelinghuys

Marno Redelinghuys Career

  • 2014–2017: NWU Pukke
  • 2015: Leopards XV
  • 2015–2017: Leopards
  • 2018: present Western Province
  • 2019: present Stormers

Marno Redelinghuys started his rugby career at Hoërskool Schoonspruit in Klerksdorp, South Africa. He made the move to North-West University in 2009 and played for their team until 2013.

In 2014, he joined the Stormers and has been a key player for them since then, winning numerous awards including Currie Cup Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017. Marno is also a member of South Africa's national squad and was called up to play against Wales in November 2018.

At 1.95m (6ft 5in), he is one of the tallest players in the international rugby union and his physicality on the field is sure to add some excitement to matches. Marno Redelinghuys was born on 16 September 1990 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

He played for the Leopards XV RFC from 2010 to 2014 before joining Western Province Rugby Union in 2015.

In 2017, he made his senior debut for the Western Province side and has since been a regular starter for them. His 10 caps have all come as part of the 2018–19 season so far and he is currently the joint-top scorer for the province with 13 points from 10 matches. 

Outside of rugby union, Redelinghuys completed his degree at northwest University in 2016 and now works as a financial analyst with an investment firm based out of Cape Town, South Africa.

21. Manasa Saulo

Manasa Saulo Career

  • 2014–2015: Timișoara
  • 2016–2017: Toulon
  • 2017–2019: London Irish
  • 2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Fijian Drua
  • 2008–2009: Fiji U20
  • 2012–2019: Fiji

Manasa Saulo is a prop for Fiji and has represented his country at international level. Manasa's rugby union career started in the under-15s age group, playing for Ratu Sukuna Memorial School.

He made his senior debut in 2009 and has gone on to make over 100 appearances for Fiji Drua, including at the 2011 Pacific Rugby Cup and 2013 World Rugby Championship qualifiers. Manasa is currently contracted to play with Russian side St Petersburg until 2018.

In June 2014, he played in Italy as part of Fiji's post-participation match celebrations -scoring one try en route to a 36-7 victory over Racing 92. Outside of rugby, Manasa is an agriculturalist by trade and also runs a barbeque restaurant with his brother in Naitasiri village near Suva .

His love for music shines through too; he plays drums professionally and formed his own band back in 2010 called "Saulo & The Sons". 

Manasa Saulo is a professional rugby league footballer who plays for the London Irish in the Betfred Championship. Saulo made his debut as a teenager with Timișoara, before moving to Toulon and then to English side London Irish in 2017.

The versatile back has represented Fiji at under-20 level, and was part of their victorious World Cup campaign in 2008. Saulo has been praised for his versatility – he can play on the wing or at fullback, and is also capable of scoring tries from dummy half or through the centres. 

With 47 appearances for Fiji since making his senior international debut in 2012, Manasa Saulo is one of the country’s most experienced players on the pitch.

22. Bautista Ezcurra

Bautista Ezcurra Career

  • 2013−2018: Hindú
  • 2017–2020: Jaguares
  • 2019: Jaguares XV
  • 2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2014–2015: Argentina Under-
  • 2015–2016: Argentina Sevens
  • 2016−2019: Argentina XV
  • 2018: Argentina

Bautista Ezcurra is a 27-year-old Argentine rugby union player who currently plays for the Jaguares. He started his career with Hindú before joining the senior team of Jaguares in 2018.

Ezcurra has played 51 matches for Hindú, scoring 85 points during that time span. Bautista Ezcurra was also part of Argentina's Junior World Cup winning side in 2013 and their U20 Championship winning team in 2016.

Outside of rugby, Ezcurra is studying business administration at Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). Bautista Ezcurra is an Argentine rugby union player who has represented his country at international level on several occasions.

Ezcurra made his debut for the Argentina national team in 2016, playing in five matches during that year's Rugby World Cup. He has since continued to be a regular member of the squad, making appearances for both the Sevens and XV sides before appearing in all fourteen fixtures of Rugby ATL's inaugural season in 2020.

Bautista Ezcurra is primarily a centre or wing forward, but can also play as a full-back if required. He is known for his powerful running and stamina, which have helped him score many tries while playing for Argentina over the years. 

He signed with French side Racing 92 after leaving Argentinian club Rosario Central where he had spent two seasons (2016−2017).

Bautista Ezcurra was born on 6th October 1995 - making him 25 when Racing 92 signed him from Rosario Central Club de Rugby.

23. Rory van Vugt

Rory van Vugt Career

  • 2018: Southland
  • 2020–2021: Rugby ATL
  • 2022: Highlanders

Rory van Vugt is a rugby union player who has represented New Zealand at international level. He was born in Balclutha, New Zealand on 8 October 1997 and attended South Otago High School.

Van Vugt first played rugby for his school team before joining the North Harbour Rugby club in 2013. 

He made his debut for the All Blacks against France in February 2016 and has since featured regularly for the national side, including at this year's World Cup where he helped to lead them to victory over Australia in their opening match of the tournament.

In addition to representing New Zealand at senior level, Van Vugt also plays for French top-level side Racing 92 and English Premiership side Worcester Warriors on loan from North Harbour Rugby Club during the season. 

Outside of sport, Rory van Vugt is studying business administration at AUT University in Auckland and plans to start working as a financial analyst after completing his studies later this year.

Rory van Vugt has been a key player for Southland in the Highlanders' development pathway. The fullback started playing rugby at an early age and showed great potential, eventually becoming one of the most promising forwards in New Zealand. 

Van Vugt made his debut with the Highlanders during their inaugural season in 2020 and has since gone on to make 16 appearances for them, scoring 15 tries along the way. He is also a regular member of New Zealand's under-20 side, having played 26 matches over three seasons so far.

Rory van Vugt will be looking to continue his excellent form when he joins up with Southland again later this year after spending time overseas with Rugby ATL.

24. Scott Lawrence

Scott Lawrence

Scott Lawerence is a flanker who has played for Australia and England. He first started playing rugby at the age of seven, after being inspired by his brother.

Lawrence has won numerous awards during his career, including the IRB International Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007, as well as World Rugby's prestigious player of the year award in 2010.

In 2013 he was named captain of Bath Rugby following their promotion to Englands top tier competition Premiership- Championship. 

Lawrence retired from professional rugby union in July 2016 having made over 250 appearances for Bath Rugby and captained them to back-to-back Championships in 2015/16 season Lawrence started his coaching career at the collegiate level, working as an assistant coach for the University of California Golden Bears.

He then moved to the professional ranks, joining Atlanta Rugby Union in 2016. Lawrence has had a great start to his tenure with ATL, leading the team to their first ever playoff appearance in 2018. 

With continued success on and off the field, Lawrence is one of the most promising young coaches in American rugby union right now.

Final Words

. . . The Rugby Atl Best Players of Alltime are some of the most talented and respected rugby players in Atlanta. These athletes have helped lead their team to success on the field, both domestically and internationally.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn

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