Vaea Naufahu Anitoni
As the remaining all-time leading try scorer for the United States, it is no question that Vaea Anitoni is Hall of Fame worthy. However, his unmatched work ethic and passion for the game is what sets him apart.
Anitoni made his debut for the Eagles in June of 1992. The wing helped lead the United States in 15s and 7s from 1992-2000, playing in 46 matches, starting 44, and scoring a record 26 tries. From 1996-1998, Anitoni scored an impressive 22 tries in 28 matches; including twice scoring four tries in a single match against Japan in July 1996 and again against Portugal in April 1998. His performance in the 1999 Rugby World Cup earned him regards as a game breaker and key player for the United States national team.
“I consider him to be the finest 7s player the United States has ever put on the field. A superb playmaker, Vaea had the speed to finish up tries. When Vaea was on my squad he never left the field. The game plan was simple, get the ball to Vaea and let him create or finish. Vaea’s work ethic is second to none,” said former U.S. National 7s team head coach, Mike Saunders.
His skillset and speed solidified his reputation as an impact player for the U.S. national 7s team, while simultaneously paving the way for Polynesian-Americans to become a driving force in the American game. Vaea was a member of the preliminary squad for the United States during the 2000 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
Anitoni also played for the Pomona Rugby Club, San Francisco’s Olympic Club, and the San Mateo Club which claimed the National 7s Championship in 1997.