One of the USA’s top homegrown Rugby Union players Phil Thiel says the draw of a new challenge is among the reasons he wants to join the Atlanta Legion RLC, a new franchise in the American National Rugby League.
After a stint with Life University in the USA Rugby Super League, the Eagle hooker wants to be part of the Legion’s inaugural season in the AMNRL in 2012.
“I have been home from the Rugby World Cup for a while now, started a new career working with a great company called SOMAX, and am starting to get a little stir crazy to be honest,” Thiel tells WeAreRugby.
“I love rugby, and want to keep playing. I love the boys at Life, they are a fantastic program that deserves the type of time commitment that I just can't give right now. Plus League seemed like it might be a new challenge.”
The 27-year old, who originally hails from Traverse City, MI, sees Rugby League as being a good fit for him.
“Just to have fun and be as competitive as possible. That has always been my goal in sports and it has taken me to great places and allowed me to play with incredible groups like the Eagles and Life U,” says Thiel.
At 5’ 11” and 245lbs, Thiel has earned 12 caps for the USA’s national rugby team following his debut against Uruguay in the Rugby World Cup qualifying series in 2009. He believes he has what it takes to make it in Rugby League and says he’d relish the chance to represent the USA Tomahawks if given the opportunity.
Thiel also says he’s not concerned about what some in the rugby community might think about his plans to switch codes.
“Not really. I know the Eagles are in great hands with players like Chris Biller at hooker and young guys coming up,” he says. “I love those guys but I made the decision not to make an earnest attempt to play overseas after the Cup because I didn't want to uproot my family and didn't see any concrete offers on the horizon, so I am excited to try something new.
“I have nothing but love for everyone in USA Rugby, but I have had to make some choices, and I know they will understand that.
“As an aside, I would like to say that I am very excited to give the Atlanta Legion a go. I think both Union and League are great games, and I know that we are building in both codes in the US and are headed for great things.”
The Atlanta Legion RLC is slated to compete in the AMNRL’s Atlantic Conference in 2012. Click here
for more information on the Legion.