It is with a heavy heart that long-time Men’s National Team 15s player Samu Manoa announces his retirement from international rugby.
Known for his physicality and big hits, Manoa debuted with the Eagles in 2010 against Georgia after spending seven years making a name for himself with San Francisco Golden Gate. A native of Concord, CA, Manoa started playing rugby when he was 13 years old where his father and uncle served as his coaches.
Following his national team debut, Manoa earned a contract with the Northampton Saints of the English Premiership where he played from 2011-2015. There, the notable athlete earned a number of accolades including ESPN Premiership Dream Team honors in his first season, Player of the Year honors in the 2012-13 and 13-14 seasons and a nomination to the short list as The Rugby Player’s Association’s Player of the Year.
As his professional and international playing careers were booming, Manoa earned a selection in 2013 to the Barbarians team who played against the notorious British and Irish Lions. Then, in 2014, Manoa’s time with the Saints reached a peak as he won a Premiership Championship over Saracens.
Now, after nearly a decade with the U.S. Men’s National Team; highlighted by 22 caps, a captaincy during the South Africa game at Rugby World Cup 2015 and a historic victory over then No. 6 Scotland last year, Manoa has chosen to support the Eagles in the upcoming World Cup as a proud alumni.
Manoa said: “This Bay Boy is hanging the boots up. It’s been a long journey but a journey that I’ll never forget. My plan was to ride this last ride with my brothers in Japan but plans have changed. I want to thank everyone that has supported me since Day One, without you there wouldn’t be a Samu.”
“Putting on that Eagles jersey and representing your country is something that a lot of folks don’t get to do. I was blessed enough to wear it and rep not only my country, but my family. Truly grateful for all the coaches, staff and folks behind the scenes that helped me Especially my family, my pops for always getting on my case. My grandmother, rest in peace, for believing if I stuck with rugby, it will take care of us. Rugby wouldn’t happen if they weren’t around to push me through.”
“I want to thank my wife Mary-Lorraine for her ongoing support because when things became tough, she ‘kicked’ me through, literally. And a big thank you to all the fans who’ve rocked with me. I’ll never forget you. Eagle #419, signing off.”
Head Coach Gary Gold said: “Samu will be greatly missed as a player and a teammate as he was due to be a part of our Rugby World Cup squad and his leadership made a significant impact on the group. We’re thankful to Samu for his dedication to this team and fully support his decision to start a new chapter. His contributions to the USA over the years will sit alongside some of the most recognized figures for the Men’s National Team.”
General Manager of the Men’s National Team 15s Dave Hodges said: “While we are disappointed to lose Samu’s impact and uncompromising physicality during this Rugby World Cup campaign, we fully support his decision as he balances where he is with the demands of international rugby. As Samu believes it is time to pass the torch to the next generation, we are equally grateful for his commitment to the jersey over the last decade and his contributions to the Men’s National Team both on and off the field.”
As his international career comes to a close, Manoa will continue to play professionally at home with the reigning two-time MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves. The Seawolves recently won their second straight MLR title this weekend in thrilling fashion, beating San Diego Legion 26-23 with a try in the final minute.