Where Are They Now | Will Hooley
It is amazing where you uncover ex-Saracens players these days. Remember Will Hooley? He helped us get out of the Championship last season and is now plying his trade in the US Rugby Major League with San Diego Legion.
As well as being an American Eagles international player, who featured in the 2019 World Cup, he is also a podcast maker and sportswriter. On the field, he is currently helping San Diego to challenge for the title in rugby’s latest professional league.
They are currently lying in third place in the Western Conference and he will be playing against Seattle Seahawks today while his former ‘Men in Black’ teammates are competing against Cardiff in the European Challenge Cup.
Will played a couple of games in the 2019-20 season in the Premiership before joining the journey around the Championship clubs. He was one of the players who knew all about the difficulties that would be faced having played for three seasons in that competition with Bedford Blues.
Born in Cambridge, he learned his rugby at The Leys School and was good enough to a part of the 2013 England U20 squad that won the World Junior Championship title, beating Wales in the final. He played at Exeter Chiefs before heading to Bedford.
But now he is firmly ensconced in the Major League and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Once the last port-of-call for the golden greats of the world game – Ma’a Nonu and Mat Giteau are still there – it has become a league for much younger players these days.
In fact, Nonu is one of Hooley’s teammates, as is the former England and Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw. Other big names players in the squad, which is coached by Danny Lee, are Springbok Bjorn Basson and a handful of players with Super Rugby, Top 14 and Premiership experience. Lee took over from another ex-Saracen, Scott Murray as head coach for this season.
Murray went to America from the south of France and had this to say about rugby in the US: “If there’s a better place to live and play rugby, I couldn’t tell you where it is."
Will has played in six of his side’s 10 games to date and will be hoping to lead a revenge mission this weekend against a Seattle side that won 31-28 in San Diego in February. The Japanese have strengthened their League One this year, and that has included former Sarries like Alex Goode and George Kruis in the past, but the American league is now setting down firm roots in a country that is surely ready to establish itself as a competitive force on the 15-a-side stage.
Let’s see how it develops. For now, at least, there is a small Saracens influence in one of the teams and we wish Will all the very best for the rest of his season.