Competing on and off the field.
Coming off one of the best season performances in school history, Grand Canyon University’s Men’s Rugby program shows no signs of slowing down in the summer. Lopes’ Head Coach Cam Wyper has kept busy during the offseason by recruiting some of the best high school rugby players in the country. The team targeted nearly 60 students to join the program next season, and recently locked in eight players with a promising future.
First on the list who will be sporting the purple and white next spring is Luke Sanders, from Santa Fe Christian High School in Solana Beach, California. Sanders, who turned down multiple NCAA football offers in favor of Grand Canyon, will look to play the 8 position (flanker), which is responsible for pushing the scrum from behind, with the team.
Next players added on the commitment list is Kiilian Keane out of Seattle, Washington; Julian Ateaga from Fallbrook, California; and a hometown product in Dylen Bieber from Liberty High School in Peoria. Both Keane and Arteaga have already begun making a name for themselves in rugby. Keane plays for the USA South Panthers, a well-known amateur team, while Arteaga spent last year playing with the Era of Rugby Academy.
As for Bieber, he was invited to play with the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA) Canadian Tour before suffering a torn ACL in his knee. Bieber hopes to get his playing career back on track with the Lopes, working with the GCU Club Sports Medicine staff to continue his recovery process.
The final group of players selecting Grand Canyon as the school to continue their playing careers is USA Rugby Boys High School All-American Caleb Wood from Burlington, Washington; Devin Dockery from Madison, Wisconsin; Thomas Kitiona from Samoa; and Zach Irwin from Eagle, Idaho.
With such promising talent coming in, Wyper fully expects to grow on the success of the past season, when the Lopes secured a playoff berth in 15s in their first year at the D1A level; finished with their highest national ranking ever; and finished 4th at the USA Rugby College 7s in May.
“We have such a great group coming in, and our goal is to win a national championship in these next couple of years,” said Wyper. “Landing these players is big for us, because other great schools were looking at them as well. Last year helped with recruiting this year by getting our name out there.”