While rugby in America still has a long way to go in becoming an established sport like it is in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the USA has made big strides in the sevens edition of the game.
Their sevens team finished second to Fiji in the World Rugby Sevens Series this season and their speedster, Perry Baker was named World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year for 2017 and 2018.
It’s no wonder that Retreat’s Matthew Novitzkas speaks so highly of rugby in the USA, although admitting there is still a lot of work to be done.
The former False Bay RFC player has made a name for himself in America after earning a rugby scholarship at New England College in 2015.
It’s unusual for the USA to be the first destination when one has aspirations of pursuing a rugby career, but Novitzkas is not one to follow the traditional route and has always wanted to pave his own way.
He also completed a degree in business studies in May this year.
“When the coach of New England offered me a scholarship after my matric I never looked back. I can say it was about the scholarship but mainly about the new adventure I was taking,” said Novitzkas, who started his rugby career started at Kirstenhof Primary School after he was introduced to the game by his grandfather. He matriculated from Abbots College while being a member of False Bay RFC which is where he was spotted.
“Since being in America it has been great and last summer we received bronze in the men’s national while competing for Mystic River”.
Mystic River Rugby Club competes in the top-level New England division and is made of college players.
Novitzkas’ rugby prowess in the USA has seen him attracting interest in Texas as he got another scholarship which allows him to play for Austin Huns Rugby Football Club.
He plays prop in sevens rugby and flank in the 15-man game.
“The USA has a long way to go to get to where South Africa is but since I have been here it has grown drastically and continues to.
“Major league rugby is in its first year going to its second and looks even better.
“There is an influx of athletes coming in with talent from all over the world such a Ben Foden (former England player) and French centre Mathieu Bastareaud who plays rugby for United New York. USA will be a power house in the years to come.”
As much as he enjoys playing rugby in a foreign land, the 25-year-old says False Bay RFC still has a special place in his heart and he has no doubt in his mind that is where he is headed when he comes home.
“False Bay is the place for me, it will always be, they are family, they are doing big things down there and I hope to see them bringing home more trophies and continue to dominate down in Cape Town.”
Not only has Novitzkas been able to dominate in the field but plays a role of an ambassador as False bay RFC constantly gets a mention when his name comes up.