Thursday, February 3, 2011
Nic Johnson signs with L'Aquila - USA backrower arrives in Italy
21 year old USA international backrower, Nic Johnson is now playing his rugby in the Italian National Championship - the Campionato Nazionale Eccellenza after signing as contract to play for L’Aquila. The club is also the home of another USA test backrower, Mexican born Iñaki Basauri. Johnson made his debut for the club this past weekend and it was not such a great game for his new side as they were defeated badly by powerhouses, Parma 53-13. The new signing entered the match in the 50th minute as a replacement for his first taste of professional rugby after swapping the Denver Barbarians for L'Aquila.
Johnson´s move to Italy gives the USA tremendous strength in the key area of the backrow which is highly positive in Rugby World Cup year. The USA took a squad of 29 players on their European tour last November. The squad included five backrowers and of the five four are professional players with Basauri and Johnson playing for L'Aquila, Louis Stanfill playing for Mogliano in Italy, JJ Gagiano playing for Eastern Province in South Africa and the Eagles captain, Todd Clever playing for Suntory in Japan. The remaining backrower was Patrick Danahy who plays for Life University in the Southern U.S. state of Georgia.
The young Johnson has already played 10 international matches for the USA Eagles since making his test debut vs Ireland in 2009. He captained the USA Select XV in the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship in Córdoba, Argentina and has started at 8 in important victories for the USA in his time with the national side. His resume already includes wins over Canada, Georgia, Portugal, Russia and Uruguay. His move to Italy is ideal with the Rugby World Cup approaching as he has the potential to combine in what is certain to be a World Class backrow with Clever playing 7 and Stanfill 6.