Men's College Player Of The Week: Watson Filikitonga, Iona

Watson Filikitonga tried as hard as he could not to play rugby, but it got him anyway.

"I was the black sheep of the family," he told FloRugby. "Rugby was all around me with my family in California, and with my brother [capped Eagle Lemoto] playing, I decided I would be the one who didn't play. I was really into football."

But, ultimately, he's on a rugby team, and in fact the Iona College center is FloRugby's Men's College Player Of The Week.

"It's in my blood," said Filikitonga. "When my brother moved back to California he said 'come on, give it a shot.' We went down to San Francisco Golden Gate and the first time I touched the ball I fell in love. It was just so natural."

After all that resistance, Folikitonga became a convert. He spent the summer at the Spearhead Academy in Minnesota (where Moto had trained), working on his skills and his fitness, and that's when the college opportunity raised its head.

Filikitonga was all set to go study at the University of Hawaii when Rob Holder, who heads up Spearhead, came up with another option. His good friend, Bruce McLane, was head coach at Iona College, and maybe that was a fit.

"It came together pretty quick, and it's amazing how one year can change your life," Filikitonga said. "I am excited t play and excited for the team. We don’t have the biggest guys on the team, but everyone has the biggest heart. We've built a strong camaraderie and we're working as a team now."

After getting hurt at the beginning of the season, Filikitonga worked his way back and in a 50-18 defeat of AIC last week, he scored four tries. 

"He's a great guy," said McLane. "He's got a great attitude, and he's a great teammate."

And he has tons of potential. Filikitonga said himself he is still learning.

"I need to work on hitting the lines faster, going full throttle instead of pacing myself," he said "I am also working on my defense and wrapping up and making sure of tackles. I never played defense in football, so that's been new to me. But I live with or next two guys like Mike Scarcells, Santi Mascolo, and Cullen Buckey, and they have helped me a lot. It's been a transition, but so far so good."

It's Homecoming at Iona this weekend, and the Gaels host Penn State in a non-conference match. But it's a meaningful one as Penn State is the Rugby East leader, and Iona is undefeated and holding onto a Top 20 spot in USA Rugby's rankings. 

Every game has been a homecoming of sorts for Watson Filikitonga, too.

Super Series Team-By-Team, And A Prediction

Women's Super Series LIVE on FloRugby

Get excited rugby fans! One of the premier events of Summer 2019, the Women’s Super Series, gets underway this week in San Diego, CA. 

Rugby Giants Leicester Tigers Looking For A Buyer

Leicester vs Worcester Prem 7s Plate SF

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Leicester Tigers have been put up for sale as the club seeks fresh investment to recover its status at the top of the English and European rugby.

Mike Friday Recaps Season, Looks Ahead


One of the odd things about being #2 in the world is that while many others might be envious of you, you are thinking that you’re not #1.

Les Bleus Bust Bloodfest Bracket

Bloodfest Champs: Les Blues

Out of the 94 teams at Bloodfest 7s in Austin, TX the French select squad known as Les Bleus, proved too tough for the best teams in the Red River conference.

Men's Sevens Qualifier Latest

Five sevens tournaments served as qualifiers this weekend as teams are looking to accumulate enough points to book a spot at the USA Rugby Club 7s Championships in Kansas City, MO.

Beltway, Scion Win In Rites Of Spring


Beltway Elite and Scion rolled to victory in the first qualifier of the Mid-Atlantic sevens season, the Rites of Spring 7s in Baltimore Saturday.

A Summer 7s Team of US Development Players--Right Or Wrong?

A plan to field young up-and-comer USA 7s hopefuls as its own 7s club for this summer has been kiboshed.

New Look New York At Newport 7s


Take a quick look back to the 2018 Club 7s nationals and you’ll quickly realize that the Atlantic North was the best division last year.

There Will Be Blood: Looking Ahead To Bloodfest 2019


Bloodfest 2019 welcomes a record 94 teams to Austin for its annual sevens tournament and blood drive, mixing high-level rugby with a good cause. 

USA Men's Team Selected For Pan Am Games

Joe Schroeder, New 7s Eagle

CHULA VISTA, CA. - Following a rigorous training and selection camp, USA Rugby today named 12 players to the 2019 U.S. Pan American Games Men’s Sevens team. The Games will take place in Lima, Peru from July 26 to August 11.