MEMBERS LIKE ME: Leap of Faith

As rugby continues to broaden its reach, more and more opportunities begin to emerge for new members and athletes to find the game. Take it from USA Rugby member, Caleb Meyer, who first picked up a rugby ball at the age of 22 and found himself signing a contract with Major League Rugby (MLR) team only six years later.
“It started in 2012 when a buddy came into the office and asked if I knew anything about rugby?” Meyer said recounting where it all began. “He bantered with me – saying that rugby was too tough of a sport for me” Aiming to prove his friend wrong, Meyer showed up to his first rugby practice.
“I’ll never forget, on the way to that first practice we were watching YouTube videos to pick up on the rules and positions of the game,” Meyer said.
For the next few years, he and his friend would play with their local Maryland rugby club, Chambersburg Turtleheads. Meyer has a lot of gratitude towards this club who he credits introducing him to the game. He also pays tribute to the Oceanside Chiefs who he played with after the Marine Corps transferred him to Camp Pendleton in California.

“I went from a casual, more social club, to playing with a team that was in national championship contention” He explained. “It was pretty cool making that jump. Now that I had the basics down, I could start honing in my skills and learn a little more about the specific strategies behind each play.”
After fulfilling his service with the Marines, Meyer went on to study at the University of Utah with hopes of playing football. However, when he found open tryouts would not be available until the following Spring, he turned to the University’s rugby club. By the time spring tryouts came around, Meyer already had found his place with rugby.
“It was a great opportunity to play with the University because it gave me a deeper, more strategic understanding of playing rugby. I became a student to the game under the leadership of the coaches.”
Meyer would go on to captain a few seasons for the University’s team, and eventually be selected to attend the Collegiate All-American Selection Camp where he would meet representatives from NOLA Gold.
NOLA Gold invited Meyer to attend the tryouts held a few weeks later. “I showed well at that tryout, and by Fall of 2018 Ryan Fitzgerald the GM of NOLA Gold invited me to play in a preseason game after which he offered me a spot in NOLA Gold Academy Development Program.”
“I had to put a lot of thought into this offer. There were a lot of personal things in my life that would suggest that I stay in Utah versus going to New Orleans” But knowing that playing a professional sport was a dream of his, Meyer would take a shot.
“I took a leap of faith and backed myself. I decided that this is something worth trying.” So he packed his things and headed to the next stage in his rugby development.

Fast forward a few weeks, Meyer was painting the field before a matchup with the Glendale Raptors when he received a call from Fitzgerald saying he will be taking that very pitch for the Gold that weekend.
“I looked at the field I was standing on then laid on the ground completely stunned.”
“I kept thinking about this kid from Wisconsin who had all these dreams to play a professional sport, who didn’t have any prospects coming out of high school, who took a chance going to Salt Lake City, and to have it work out like this… it was pretty incredible.”
“I am living my dreams right now, and it has been an incredible ride. If I could share advice to anyone in a similar situation, I would say, ‘Believe that you can do it and then put that belief into action.’
“If you have that mindset, you can truly go anywhere you want to go,” he concluded.
Caleb Meyer, USA Rugby Member since 2013.
Caleb’s experience as a USA Rugby member has the potential to be like yours, the only question is… where will rugby take you? Learn more about the benefits of becoming a USA Rugby Member and start your story today.

Maccabi USA Rugby Hall of Fame to Induct Aaron Blatt, Gary Puterman, and Jon Velie

Philadelphia, PA, January 28, 2019 – The Maccabi USA Rugby Family is pleased to announce the induction of Aaron Blatt, Gary Puterman, and Jon Velie into the Maccabi USA Rugby Hall of Fame on Friday, March 1, 2019 in Las Vegas. The ceremony will include the USA Rugby Sevens, part of the World Series of Rugby. Following the ceremony, Maccabi USA Rugby alumni, current, and future players will represent Team USA in the Las Vegas Invitational tournament.

“We are inducting three great men into our Hall of Fame class” said Jeff Simon, part of the Maccabi USA Rugby Hall of Fame Committee. “The three men embody the qualities of commitment, sacrifice, winning, and camaraderie. There were so many great choices, and as we do, we debated it heavily, but two of the leaders from the 1997 gold medal team and a three-time player who came out of retirement to win gold in 2017 is a fine way to continue the tradition for a team, a family, and a people who have so much great tradition.”

Aaron Blatt represented Team USA as a hooker at the 2001, 2005, and 2017 World Maccabiah Games. He helped the USA earn two silver medals in 2001 and 2005 and came out of retirement to lead the team to gold at the 2017 Games. Aaron began his rugby career in 1994 at San Diego State University and was captain from 1996-1998. He was selected to the Southern Cal Griffins All-Star and Collegiate All-American teams in 1997 and 1998 and once again in 2002 and 2003. Most of his rugby career was spent playing for Santa Monica Rugby; he served as captain from 2002-2009. During Aaron’s tenure, Santa Monica won back to back National Championships in 2005 & 2006, he was named MVP five times, and was inducted into the Santa Monica Hall of Fame in 2012. He was selected as an Eagle for a tour to Russia in 2005 but declined because the tour dates conflicted with the Santa Monica National Championship.

Gary Puterman represented Team USA as a fullback and scrumhalf at the 1997 and 2009 World Maccabiah Games. Gary was a key member of the 1997 Open Men’s Rugby Team that won the first-ever gold medal for the USA in Rugby. In 2009, he came out of retirement and helped the Open Men’s team win a bronze medal. Prior to his involvement with Maccabi USA, Gary represented South Africa at the 1985 and 1989 World Maccabiah Games winning two gold medals. He spent his early years as captain of the U20 team at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He also played for the U20 Provincial Transvaal team and the U20 and Open teams at South African Universities and Santa Monica Rugby from 1992-2002. During his years with Santa Monica Rugby he was captain for many years and was named Back Player of the Year four times, he was also inducted into the Santa Monica Rugby Club Hall of Fame. Additionally, he was selected to represent the Southern California Griffins in 1995 and 1996. In 1998, Gary played for the USA Eagles on a successful tour of Portugal and Spain.

Jon Velie represented Team USA as a scrumhalf at the 1993 and 1997 World Maccabiah Games and as captain of the gold medal winning Open Men’s Rugby Team at the 1995 Pan Am Maccabi Games in Argentina. Jon was a key member of the 1997 Open Men’s Rugby Team that won the first-ever gold medal for the USA in Rugby. Jon began his rugby career in high school playing for the Oklahoma University Rugby Football Club went on to play at University of California, Berkeley. In 1988 he won the USA Rugby National Collegiate Championship and was an All-American in 1987, 1988, and 1989. Jon was a member of the 1991 National Club Champion Denver Barbarians, the 1994 National All-Star Champion Western US Mustangs, 1991 National U-25 All-Star Champion Western Mustangs, 1990 National U- 25 National All-Star Champion Pacific Coast Grizzlies and played internationally in 1994 for Atlantis in Spain. Most of his career (1983-2000) was spent playing with Oklahoma University RFC; he was Head Coach at Oklahoma University from 1999-2006. Jon was also a Selector for USA Rugby All-Americans and served a Manager for the All-American’s Ireland Tour in 2001. Jon was inducted into the Oklahoma University Rugby Hall of Fame in 2012.

The World Maccabiah Games, first held in 1932, are an international Jewish multi-sport event held quadrennially in Israel. Rugby was first introduced to the World Maccabiah Games in 1985. Team USA won gold in 1997 narrowly beating South Africa and won the first gold in Sevens Rugby in 2013. In July 2017, Team USA won another 15’s gold medal over South Africa.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held Friday, March 1st from 8 P.M.-11 P.M. at the Excalibur Hotel.

For more information, please contact Jeff Simon at or 847-921-0872 and visit


In 2007, Wyles made his Eagles debut at the Churchill Cup in Stockport, England, against England. From there he played with and captained the Eagles Sevens team. Today as an Eagle Alum, Wyles has created his own business, Wolfpack Lager.

Learn more about Chris:

Q: When and where did you play rugby?
A: My first game of rugby was at Aldwickbury school when I was 11 years old. I went on to play at Haileybury college during my school years and Leicester Tigers Academy and Nottingham RFC when I studied Politics at Nottingham University. After a brief spell at Northampton Saints, I began my journey with USA Rugby in both 7’s and XV’s. This included three World Cups, a 7’s World Cup and the Olympics. During this same period, I began my Saracens career which resulted in 10 years at the club and over 250 appearances. 

Q: When did you play with the Eagles?
A: I played for the Eagles from 2006 until 2015 when I retired from International rugby after the 2015 World Cup. 

Q: What is your favorite rugby memory?
A: This is really tough as I have so many great memories. Scoring the winning try against France in front of the home crowd at the San Diego 7’s is right up there. Winning our first Premiership title with Saracens was also incredible. Ultimately though winning our first European title for Saracens tops it all. All fantastic memories to look back on! 

Q: Where are you now?
A: I now work for my own business, Wolfpack Lager. We specialize in making exceptional Lager for social animals!

Q: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
A: I think the growth of rugby in the US is down to two important factors. Firstly, the growth of a sustainable and ‘attractive’ professional league. It appears the MLR are moving in this direction. Secondly, high levels of participation in youth level rugby backed up by high-level coaching. Ultimately across all levels of rugby in the US coaching quality needs to be a priority. 

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to aspiring rugby players?
A: Accept that ‘failure’ is part of the journey. Use it as motivation. Relish it. ‘I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.’ Wayne Gretzky. I’m having to learn this again in my business life!

Former Houston Mayor and Rugger to Keynote NDS

Former Houston Mayor, Annise Parker, will join the extensive list of presenters at this year’s National Development Summit (NDS) as the weekend keynote speaker on January 12.  In addition to serving as the leader of the nation’s fourth-largest city, Mayor Parker is a former club rugby player and member of the Rice University softball team.

One of only two women to have been elected Mayor, Parker was the first openly gay mayor of a major American city.  She served six years as a member of the city council, and six as city controller.  In 2010, Parker was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine. Prior to entering elective office, she was an oil and gas executive with Mosbacher Energy.  Parker was also named a Distinguished Alumna of Rice University in 2011, and is a past Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Today, Mayor Parker is President and CEO of the national LGBTQ Victory Fund and Institute.  She also serves on the Policy and Global Affairs Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Just prior to the 2016 Olympics, Mayor Parker met with the USA Sevens Women’s team as it set off from Houston for Rio de Janeiro. During her tenure as Mayor, the city built a major amateur sports complex, including rugby fields, which is the site of the new Major League Rugby stadium.  Houston notably hosted a string of successful test matches and other rugby events during her time in office. Mayor Parker is expected to share her experiences and lessons gained from years on the playing fields, in boardrooms, and in politics with those attending the NDS. 

The 2019 National Development Summit happens January 11-13 in Houston, Texas. You can hear Mayor Parker’s presentation at the Saturday Night Awards Dinner. 

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You Shop. Amazon Gives. USA Rugby Benefits.

Do you shop on Amazon? If yes, did you know that for every eligible purchase, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of purchases to a charity of your choice?

Here’s why you should choose USA Rugby as your Charity of Choice:

Plainly stated – Every little bit counts. When hundreds of supporters, like YOU, shop at, charitable donations quickly add up. Those donations allow USA Rugby to allocate funds to areas that support rugby in America.

Whether the funds are allocated towards putting rugby balls in the hands of our youth, or sending aspiring referees on scholarship to the South Africa Rugby Academy, or providing a living-stipend to current Eagles – you can be assured that your support is positively impacting the game!  

Here’s how you choose USA Rugby as your Charity of Choice:

Visit, choose the USA Rugby Football Union, Ltd., then every time you make an eligible purchase through your Amazon account, you will be supporting our mission with no cost or extra steps for you! 

So what are you waiting for? Shop AmazonSmile and impact the sport we all love.

5 ways to celebrate USA Rugby on National Nonprofit Day

It’s National Nonprofit Day – a day intended to commend nonprofits for the work the organizations do to impact the world in a positive way.

So, what can you do to recognize your favorite nonprofit that aims to impact the world through rugby? We are glad you asked! Here are 5 ways to celebrate USA Rugby on National Nonprofit Day. 

  1. Give a Shout Out
    Share a post about why growing rugby in the US is important to you. By sharing a post like this, you help raise awareness and inspire others to get involved with the sport you love. Don’t forget to tag USA Rugby! 
  2. Visit the Website
    The USA Rugby website is full of information related to all things rugby. Get caught up on community impact stories, recent happenings at Club 7s, Eagle roster lineups, and so much more. Visit the website HERE.
  3. Renew Your Membership – or sign up for the first time
    There are many benefits to having a USA Rugby Membership. Such as discounts to, access to an educational database, insurance options and so much more. See full membership benefits HERE.
  4. Choose USA Rugby on AmazaonSmile
    AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of every eligible purchase to a charity of your choice. When hundreds of supporters, like YOU, shop at, charitable donations quickly add up. Sign Up HERE.
  5. Make a donation
    We believe rugby is a sport for everyone. That’s why we support rugby youth initiatives, coaching and referee development, and build world-class athletes through our USA National Teams. But we cannot do it without the support from friends like YOU
Donors like you are crucial to the growth and development of rugby in the United States. Make a donation HERE.