Saturday, March 12, 2011

Samoan football player selected to play for USA 7s rugby squad Leonard Peters

American Samoa born Leonard Peters, a former football player who attended the University of Hawaii, has been selected to play for the USA Sevens Rugby squad, which is set to compete in the Sevens Rugby competition of the 8th World Games in Kaohsiung, Taipei.

The World Games rugby competition is scheduled for July 24 and July 25.

Peters, 27, is from the village of Faga’alu.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Peters, a graduate of Kahuku High School, on the island of O’ahu, began his athletic career in Hawaii. After graduation from Kahuku, where he was a star on the Red Raiders roster, he attended UH.

In high school, he was coached by the legendary Livai Siuaki (co-founder of the Samoa Bowl) then head coach at Kahuku and now involved with Hawaiian rugby. During his time with the Raiders Peters had some rugby experience from his former football coach.

After high school, Peters was picked by former UH head coach June Jones to play safety, reports the Advertiser. He was a second string safety for his first two years, but in his junior year at UH, Peters’ football career was on the rise. He was outstanding on the field. He later became UH football defensive captain and his squad looked up to him.

Peters played a total of 50 games in Hawaii as safety and holds a record of 209 tackles without assists, defended 20 passes, and boasts a record of 7 interceptions, and 2 sacks, reports the Advertiser.

The Advertiser also reports that Peters made four stints with the New York Jets, as well as the Chicago Bears. He practiced with the New York Jets as a free agent, but was never picked for the team roster. Peters ended up practicing with the Chicago Bears practice squad, but still did not make it in the main team roster.

After having a hard time with the NFL, Peters was contacted by Andy Katoa of the Aspens 7s rugby squad. Katoa had his own shot at the NFL in the 1990s and asked Peters if he wanted to return to rugby. Peters was highly enthusiastic, the Advertiser said.

While playing for Aspen, Peters along with former England rugby player Colin Hawley and another Samoan - Ata Malifa - was added to the USA Rugby Sevens squad by USA coach Al Caravelli. Peters was the third candidate.

On Paki’s Corner, a rugby site, Caravelli said, he was still looking for that crossover athlete to jump into his team, pointing out that “many have found it isn’t easy, but Leonard Peters has a little background to help him out.”

Caravelli now has in his new pool a hard hitting defensive player with some rugby knowledge and a 4.43 time for his forty-yard dash, rugby sites note.

The USA coach says Leonard has “such speed and explosiveness” that has impressed him and that “his professionalism and how he fits in with his team chemistry is outstanding.”

The World Games, first held in 1981 in the U.S., is an international multi-sport event meant for sports that are not contested in the Olympic Games. It is held every four years and hosts for 2013 will be Cali, Colombia.

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