MLR Draft 2020 results: four new players
The Utah Warriors Rugby team tapped four new players in today’s MLR Collegiate Draft, more than any other MLR team. The draft represents an important step in building a pathway to professional rugby in North America. The Warriors are pleased to welcome:
- 3rd Pick (1st Round): Derek Ellingson, St. Mary’s College, Center/Wing
- 7th Pick (1st Round): John Cray Powers – Iona, Wing/Fullback
- 15th Pick (Second Round): Danny Giannascoli – Loyola Maryland, Flyhalf/Fullback
- 19th Pick (Second Round): Elijah Hayes – ICC, Prop
“We did a great job of identifying players in positions that we needed to fortify to ensure our future success as a team,” said Brandon Sparks, Director of Rugby for the Utah Warriors. “Credit needs to be given to our high-performance staff for buying into the process that identified an incredible group of players that will be great additions to our team and the Utah community.”
In all, 24 athletes were drafted from two rounds of selections. MLR received more than 400 applicants for the 2020 draft.
“Our coaching staff did an amazing job of watching countless hours of video, talking to dozens of coaches, and grading hundreds of players to prepare for this draft,” said Kimball Kjar, GM of the Utah Warriors. “In all, I believe our staff identified some of America’s top rugby talent and players that we believe will add value to our team with their chance to wear the Warriors’ four stripes and possibly be on the US National Team’s radar in due time.”
Derek Ellingson, St. Mary’s College, Center/Wing
Alumni in MLR: Holden Yungert, Dino Waldren, Vili Helu, Dylan Audsley, Tim Maupin, Colby Stevens, Vili Helu, Sean Yacoubian, Tommy Wallace, Kevin O’Connor, Huluholo Moungaloa, Alec Barton
A hockey player growing up and didn’t play rugby until his freshman year at St Mary’s. He began working his way through the SMC Rugby program playing C-side as a freshman, B-side as Sophomore and continued to develop. As a Junior in 2019, he became the starting outside center for St Mary’s and plays center, wing and fullback. Not a natural kicker but evolved into their top kicker in 2020.
John Cray Powers – Iona, Wing/Fullback
Mainly a powerful back three player, played fly-half for Iona as a Sophomore. Played all four years of High School. Summer of 2019, he played for NYAC and was also selected to play for Atlantis 7s.
-2019 All-American Camp East Invite
-2019 1st Team All Liberty Conference
-2019 Iona College Vice-Captain
-2019 RUNY U23 Development Academy Team Captain
Danny Giannascoli – Loyola Maryland, Flyhalf/Fullback
Played Soccer his whole life until his brother who went to Loyola Maryland before him introduced him to rugby in his senior year of high school. Was on track to play football in college as a kicker until being dissuaded to play Rugby at Loyola Maryland.
-2019 Collegiate 7s All-American
-2x NSCRO All-American & Mid-Atlantic South MVP (2018-2019)
-4x 1st Team All Potomac Conference (2016-2019)
-2018 and 2019 Captain
-2019 Club 7s Nationals Dream Team (Schuykill River 7s)
-2019 Rugby Barbados World 7s Champion (Atlantis 7s)
Elijah Hayes – ICC, Prop
Started playing rugby his senior year of high school before heading to Southeastern Louisiana University where he appeared in 9 games for the Lions at guard as a Freshman. He transferred to ICC in the fall of 2018, and this was his second year of college rugby and third year of rugby overall.
-Won D1AA 2019 Fall National Championship
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