UNF Deadbirds rugby center David Aguilar has been selected to play for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Representing the USA Hawks rugby team, Aguilar will miss part of his senior season with the UNF Deadbirds. However, according to Aguilar, missing part of the season is nothing compared to being able to play for and represent his country.
“Well when I first got selected it was definitely a huge honor,” Aguilar said. “It was a crazy experience because this is my first time playing rugby league, and to get selected for such a huge role and to continue to play rugby was a great accomplishment for me.”
Being selected for the USA Hawks was a rigorous process for Aguilar. After a review from a selection committee of outside coaches based off of game footage and camps, a player is then placed in a pool of the top 54 players in the nation.
Aguilar is considered one of the top 20 rugby players in the USA. UNF Deadbirds Head Coach Richard Allegar has watched Aguilar grow as a player and a person over the years.
“He was quiet, definitely quiet and soaking it all in,” Allegar said. “The coaches from the very beginning knew he was a special athlete, smart and very hard working.”
Allegar said that Aguilar’s success is more impressive considering how quickly he adapted to playing rugby.
“He is willing to put in the time and effort to train as well as to learn the sport,” Allegar said. “It was a brand new sport for him, but in 2012 we went to the final four and he started every game for us as a freshman. He was the only freshman to do so.”
As a senior, Aguilar’s leadership is evident as he has led his team to many championships thanks to his work ethic, furthering his legacy with the Deadbirds. The Deadbirds have competed in three National Small College Rugby Organization (NSCRO) Men’s Champion Cup finals, including the 2015 National Championship game.
Aguilar’s teammate and close friend William Mueller could not help but radiate with approval and pride. Their friendship runs deep since joining the Deadbirds the same year as freshmen.
“He is a hard-nose player, he runs hard,” Mueller said. “It’s not fun to be in front of him. He’s definitely hard to bring down and that’s why he got selected.”
Mueller said Aguilar’s ferocity on the field is complimented by his humility off of it.
“[Aguilar is] a great rugby player, but honestly he is a greater person,” Mueller said. “He [is] one of the most humble kids [I’ve] ever met. He runs hard, probably one of the hardest hitters on the team, but you never hear him brag about it.”
When the average sports fan thinks of rugby, the Rugby League World Cup probably wouldn’t be the first thing on their mind. But for Aguilar, competing on an international rugby stage has become a reality. Before attending UNF, rugby wasn’t even on Aguilar’s radar. But now rugby means more to Aguilar than just a fun game with friends. It has become a way of life.
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