In the multicultural melting pot that is New York City, the Knights thrive off foreign talent and find camaraderie in diversity. Standing tall in the middle of the Knights’ diverse line-up is the 6’5” French enforcer, Xavier Lozinguez. Lozinguez is in his third AMNRL season and leads the Knights forward pack into battle every weekend. Lozinguez grew up playing basketball in his teenage years in his hometown just outside of Lyon, France. He then moved to Paris to study for six years and had a one year stint in England. However, it wasn’t until he moved to the US five years ago that the man they call ‘X’ started playing competitive rugby.
“I picked up rugby because when I came to the US I was by myself and didn’t know anybody, so I looked online and thought the best way to actually meet like 30 people and make 30 friends was to join a rugby team,” Lozinguez told WeAreRugby. Xavier initially played for the Bayonne Bombers rugby union club while living in Jersey City but after a French compatriot living in New York suggested they move to a more competitive league, he ended playing for the Old Blue rugby club in the Super League.
The coach of Old Blue at the time was current Knights coach Guillaume Cieutat, who suggested that Lozinguez try his hand at Rugby League over the summer. From there ‘X’ hasn’t looked back. He has captained the Knights on occasion, when regular captain Gareth Baxendale has been unavailable, and has grabbed the attention of USA Tomahawks selectors. The 260 pound front-rower was selected for the Tomahawks earlier this year and made his debut against Ireland on the day of his first daughter’s birth. “My wife went into labor on the Thursday night and the game was on Saturday, so I spent all of Friday at the hospital, I was already in camp getting ready for the Ireland game,” Lozinguez said. “She was born on the Saturday morning and then I drove all the way [to Philadelphia] to the game to play.”
Lozinguez has been a late bloomer in rugby league terms, as he approaches his 30th birthday he still has a lot to achieve in the game. “Hopefully I get to play for the Tomahawks for the qualifiers. I know there is going to be tough competition getting selected but that’s what I am working for… If we qualify like we plan to then maybe I won’t be too old to have a part in the World Cup.” Lozinguez has been friends with New York Knights coach and fellow Frenchman, Guillaume Cieutat, for over four years and their combination has helped shape the Knights’ identity in recent seasons. “He is a great club man, entirely dedicated to rugby league and the New York Knights. His work rate is remarkable, his mobility is exceptional for his frame and he has what it takes to play representative footy against top nations,” Cieutat said.
With a World Cup on the horizon, a young family to support and with team-mates hailing from everywhere from Australia to Puerto Rico, Xavier’s life can be comparable to the bustling excitement of New York City itself.