After more than a decade of incredible play and commitment, Folau Niua's time with the USA Men's Sevens comes to a close

Mike Lee - KLC Photos
Mike Lee - KLC Photos

With nearly 12 years of commitment to the USA Men’s Sevens program, USA Eagle Folau Niua will depart sevens residency as the USA Men’s Sevens program looks to elevate new talent and build a young core in the new olympic cycle.

As one of the most influential and dedicated sevens athletes to wear a USA jersey, and a Men’s Eagles selection to Rugby World Cup 2015, Niua has been instrumental in the development and growth of the USA Men’s Sevens since first debuting in 2011, with his most recent appearance being in front of friends and family on home soil for the HSBC LA Sevens in August.

Head Coach Mike Friday openly planned at the start of the year for the legendary playmaker to step away from the USA Sevens National Team ahead of the new series beginning in November, allowing the next generation of halfbacks to step up on the world stage.

Remarks from Folau:

“First, All the glory to our heavenly father Jesus Christ for my career and what I’ve been through, because I couldn’t make it through it without GOD. FrFr! … To all my Family I LOVE YOU ALL and friends. Y’all already know. Special thank you to Jon Bobbett and all the Golden Eagles, Thank you. To all of those people that helped me throughout my injury, much appreciate it. I am grateful and Bless to play the game I LOVE and appreciate you all for everything. I mean HSBC, All my teammates that I play with and the ones that came before me, USA Rugby, All the coaches and staff that I play for and to all the teams across the country that involves Rugby 7s and 15s. Thank you for pushing me to be a better player. Much appreciate you all and it is an honor and Bless to live on y’all times! God bless you all. Ofa’s #RepentAndBelieve Jesus Christ”

Folau Niua Tokyo 2020

USA Men’s Sevens Head Coach, Mike Friday said, “There is so much good to say about the lovable enigma who is Lau Lau. A creative, unpredictable, unorthodox and mischievous individual with a good heart. Since day one of us working together back in the summer of 2014, he has definitely kept me on my toes with some sleepless nights and shakes of the head, all mixed with a bucket load of smiles and laughs!”

“A quiet caring man with no ego who has given so much to USA Rugby, most specifically The Dawgs. We all know about those magical restarts, the wizardry of his passing variations and his ability to conduct those who play around him. He has been at the center of the pack for every great moment during the rise of The Dawgs.”

Originally from East Palo Alto, CA, Niua began his glittering rugby career with the East Palo Alto Razorbacks where he won a Division II USA Rugby Club National Championship in 2009. Also competing with San Francisco Golden Gate in the Bay Area, Niua shifted to the sevens pitch and made his international debut as a member of Team USA at the 2011 Pan American Games, where he led the team in scoring with 41 points on the way to their bronze medal. That same year he would debut on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at the Gold Coast Sevens, going on to appear in 76 tournaments, the most by any USA Eagle. With 387 matches played, Folau sits 8th all time in World Rugby history. One of the best playmakers in the game of sevens, Niua was also selected to the Team USA Olympic squads in 2016 and 2020.

Folau Niua Vegas 2018

Friday continued, “Equally, if not more impressive is his fight, bravery and resilience to deal with adversity in life that we should all be in awe of. A clear illustration being his full recovery to take the pitch once more after a detrimental injury in 2019. A moment where he nearly lost his leg and is nothing short of remarkable. Going on to represent at his second Olympics and continue to help, support and mentor the next generation of Dawgs says everything about him as a human being. This is the compassionate side of Lau that is unseen, yet so precious. I hope and pray he fully realizes how many people here and afar he has touched and inspired. Lau Lau, whatever comes next I will be watching on with interest and love as I respect you, salute you and appreciate you.”

USA Rugby Chief Executive Officer, Ross Young Notes, “I’ve had the pleasure of watching Folau play in a USA jersey for many years, becoming not only a remarkable player but a significant contributor to the evolution of USA Rugby sevens over the years. On behalf of the organization, I want to send a sincere note of gratitude for the years of devotion and commitment Folau has given to the USA program and game of rugby. We know he will always be close to the game and wish him the very best in this next chapter.”