Zach Pangelinan reached another milestone on his rugby journey to the top of his sport by being tapped by Major League Rugby to play for the Houston Sabercats. After returning from a stint playing for the Randwick Rugby Club in Sydney, Australia, the Guamanian landed in the MLR to help launch the United States’ top league in its inaugural season. “I would consider this the highest level of rugby in the U.S.,” wrote Pangelinan in an email to The Guam Daily Post.
The league comprises seven teams: Austin Elite Rugby, Glendale Raptors, New Orleans Gold, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, Utah Warriors and the Sabercats. Pangelinan makes his Houston debut on April 21 against “The Big Easy,” 7 p.m. at Constellation Field in Houston, Texas. Several MLR games are slated to be televised by CBS Sports Network.
“The team now is coming along nicely, having a good amount international players here really have upped the game-pace and play here in Houston,” wrote Pangelinan.
For the past several years, Pangelinan has made a name for himself in the rugby world and looks forward to his newest endeavor. He has set his sights on big goals. “My expectation here in Houston are pretty straight forward, I wanna win as much games as possible and we have the players and coaching staff to do it,” wrote Pangelinan.
Undoubtedly, the former Simon Sanchez High School Shark standout athlete is ready to tackle this latest challenge head-on and deploy new skills learned while playing Down Under. “Playing at Randwick Rugby Club, in Sydney, was one of the best things I've done in my rugby career,” beamed Pangelinan. “The fitness aspect of it was a bit tough … I think I can apply it by sharing what I've learned and also to continue working on what needs work, to better myself as a player and teammate,” he added.
Aside from earning the opportunity to play in the MLR, Pangelinan has caught Team USA’s attention and has been chosen to play for the USA Selects. “It's always a massive honor to put on the USA jersey and represent the country,” wrote Pangelinan. USA Selects is a team made up of the top players in America and some time has passed since Pangelinan has played for the coveted squad. “It has been awhile since I got the opportunity, so I try to enjoy every moment of it,” he wrote. “Not many people get that chance, so I take nothing for granted and go out and do my best.”
For the superstar Sabercat, advancing to the top of the ranks hasn’t come easy and he shared a tip with his fans all over the world and especially on Guam: “Everyone has an idol when it comes to sport they're playing. Work hard until your idols become your rivals,” he wrote. “Don't ever give up on what you really want to do. There will be times when things get real hard but those are the times that will make you better as a player and a person. Just keep working!”
Pangelinan has been a member of USA 7s and 15s teams, won the Pacific Rugby Premiership 2014 MVP and, in March 2017, received the California Cup co-MVP honors while playing 15s for Old Mission Beach Athletic Club.