Rugby Q&A: RWC Team USA Center Andrew Suniula

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Andrew Suniula is one of 3 Suniula brothers playing either 7s, 15s or both for the USA Eagles. Last week, we interviewed brother Roland. Shalom is trying to hide, but we’ll get him as well.

JWB: Andrew, thank you for being here. We have questions of our own and questions from the Rugby World. Ready?
A.S.: No worries.

JWB: You’ve been bombarded with questions re your brothers, who also play for the Eagles. Last week, we had Roland in for a Q&A, Shalom is on our radar. To make you feel comfy, we figured we’d continue with that bombardment:
A.S.: It’s all good. I’m used to it now.

Bruce McClane (NYAC & Xavier High School coach with Eagle coach & a RWU favorite Mike Tolkin):Which Suniula won the childhood fights? Which Suniula can do the most push-ups? And did you ever rub Chicago Griffin Coach Wez Parkes’ head for good luck?
A.S.: I would say our eldest brother Jarrett would always win the fights by default. He’s the shortest but somehow made us feel like he was bigger than the rest of us, so we wouldnt dare mess with him. That worked out for him for a long while. He was also quite the athlete growing up. Fast, strong, fitness fanatic, so push-ups go to him, too.

Cactus Emerick

Bruce McClane: Did you ever rub Chicago Griffin Coach Wez Parkes’ head for good luck?
A.S.: No, not for good luck, but I rubbed it after my final Griffins game when we beat the Lions in the spring.
Bill Gardner (Duke University Rugby): Which Suniula is the best player?
A.S.: Hard to say coz we play different positions. But it would be a close one between Lom (Shalom) and Rolz (Roland). Loms has my side-step, so he has the edge there. haha.
JWB: Follow up; Which Suniula is the best… looking?

Cactus Emerick: What is the biggest challenge about being the best looking of all the Suniula’s? Some tough comp with teef and lome. Secrets?
I try to age well like you bro.

A.S.: Astralitta. Our baby sister.
JWB: Ooh. Good answer! Paul “Cactus” Emerick put that one in my sites… Which Suniula is the worst athlete?
A.S.: That would be between Loms and Rolz too. ha


JWB: How much money does Roland make?
A.S.: Not sure. You would have to ask him that.
JWB: How much money do you make?
A.S.: Hopefully, more than me so he won’t ask me for any.

Matekitonga Moeakiola

JWB: How much money does Roland make?
: Not sure. You would have to ask him that.
How much money do you make?
: Hopefully, more than me so he won’t ask me for any.

JWB: You are smooth! Okay… Changing gears, which Eagle front-rower wore the same undies throughout the RWC matches?
A.S.: Never really checked other boys’ underwear. But my best guess would be Mate Moeakiola. Not for any game-related superstitious reasons, but for the fact that he has only one pair.

Arrgh! A Pirate!

Andy Dixon (Buffalo Rugby Club player via England???): I’m a Cornishman and used to play for Cornwall. Your new club the Cornish Pirates. It’s all about passion in Cornwall. If you play with that they will love you down. The question, though, is do you like Cornish Pasties? If so, what type? God I miss them!
A.S.: Yes, I am very familiar with the Cornish Pasties. Peppered Steak pasty is my fave.

Shalom Suniula (Eagles 7s teammate & brother): Is living where he is now in England more boring than Muscatine Iowa?
A.S.: Yes, this is worse than Muscavegas coz there’s no Iowa City weekends to ease the cabin fever.

Danahy's Movember

Patrick Danahy (Eagle 15s flanker, whom Coach Mike Tolkin called RWC’s Most Improved Player): What is the real secret ingredient is in your famous hunch punch?
A.S.: Def say the MUSIC!!! It makes all the other ingredients dance and mix together inside you so well that the punch scissor-kicks the side of your head the following morning!

Miles Craigwell, Eagles 7s teammate asks him “Why you so huuuuuunkry!?
A.S.: Big Dog’s gotta eat. But you’re the Biggest Dog, so this question is really for you. Ha…

JWB: Now for some serious questions…

Jack Breen (Head Coach/Administrator at Maui Rugby Org): What is your view of Hawaii as a future destination for major Rugby teams from NZ, Aus and the Pacific Islands to meet and play Northern Hemisphere teams?
A.S.: Hawaii would be a great venue to host high-profile rugby matches and events. I think there is great potential for Hawaii to become a breeding ground for rugby players as it is for football in the United States.

JWB: What’s the biggest difference for you playing in England? Do you prefer Northern or Southern Hemisphere style rugby?
A.S.: I haven’t had too much playing time in the UK style, but can already see the differences. The type of players you develop are in contrast of the other. Approach is a lot more conservative and the set-piece is driven in the northern style. I would lean more towards the southern because I enjoy throwing the ball around.

Wheels Dominguez

JWB: Willie “McWheels” Dominguez of the NYRC: What steps did you take to become an Eagle? What choices/sacrifices did you make to follow your dream?
A.S.: I set a long-term goal early on in my life (high school), to pursue rugby as a profession. I put a lot of time and dedication (as would any athlete in their sport) into chasing short-term goals. That has taken me away from family and friends for long periods of time. But it has also given me numerous memorable experiences; taken me around the world, meeting new people and seeing new places. Ultimately found myself in an Eagles jersey during this journey.

Jafet Melendez (Harold Washington College and Noble Rugby): What do think about living in Chicago and did you enjoy teaching rugby to young players from the Noble Street School?
A.S.: Really enjoyed coaching the Noble crew as well as all the other boys involved in the tournament/program. Chicago is a great place to live.

Grant A Cole (Prop living in Texas): What are some of the ups and downs of youth rugby in a big city? What are some obstacles – in his experience – that may be overcome early with communication and planning?
A.S.: It really depends on what kind of city it is. Obviously, the game is not a  major sport in the United States, so it’s not as easy to get youth started as would the other sports. The development of the game in any city can be achieved with proper planning and funding. Logistically, it can be more difficult to do so in bigger cities; i.e. venue availability, expenses, competition from other sports. However, if planned smartly, it can pay big dividens because of the potential participation pool size available in a big city. USA Soccer would be a good model to follow in terms of developing the game at ‘grassroots’ level. I am sure they would have gone through similar obstacles in establishing soccer the way it is in the United States today. Hopefully, one day soon we’ll begin to see American kids running around the park playing touch and kicking rugby balls.

Geoff Andrews (Kiwi & “USA Mayor Of All Down Under“): I was very disappointed in both the attacking flair and the tackling by the Eagles backs during the World Cup.Do you and the other Eagles backs think you were fit enough for the World Cup? What would you do differently?
A.S.: We prepared as well as we could have for the RWC given the time we had. It was unfortunate that we played our first two games in torrential rain while we watched all the other teams throw the ball around under the sun in other parts of NZ. They weren’t ideal conditions to show off attacking rugby and we had to adjust our natural game to give us the best chance to win, which we did against Russia. We leaked a few points against a classy Wallabie side but defended well in our other games for the most part. Scheduling of our games played a part in that also, which I thought wasn’t fair. So, apart from the Australian game, we didn’t score many points, but we didn’t let many in either. It clearly shows the potential that the USA and other so called ‘2nd tier’ rugby nations have to be as good as the rugby power nations – if given the same help and opportunities that they receive from the IRB.

JWB: Are you aiming for the Olympics as a 7s player and/or the 2015 RWC?
A.S.: It is difficult to say this far out but I am hopeful.

JoJo Bucci (Chicago Griffins teammate): “Drew, what is the highest total of McChickens with cheese you’ve ever eaten after a night out in Wrigleyville with the Griffins?
A.S.: 2 McChickens with Cheese and 4 Cheeseburgers with Big Mac sauce. Boom!

Scott Lavalla

JWB Who makes a better Mr Clean, Scott LaVallaWez Parkes, Lance Connolly or our partners on
A.S.: That’s an easy one. RoboCop LaValla.
JWB: Who would be – and note the irony – the ugliest Bald Eagle?
A.S.: Combination of the Russian and RoboCop LaValla (the only bald Eagle in 2011).

JWB: Is coaching in your future and if not, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A.S.: Coaching is somewhere in the future.
JWB: Thank you, Andrew. Your time is MUCH appreciated.
A.S.: No Problem.

Please comment below, shop rugby-friendly ads and come back tomorrow for Eagle 7s Captain Matthew Hawkins and Friday for Fridays with Phaidra Knight – another Eagle Legend.

About Johnathan Wicklow Barberie 118 Articles
JWB is the contrived Kiwi sports personality who can't go ANYWHERE without being asked for an autograph. He always obliges. Find him on Twitter at: @JWB_RWU