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One of the new names in the USA 7s camp announcement is Andrew Durutalo. A Fijian, Durutalo has thrown his lot in with the USA, and it’s worth hearing what is an intriguing story.
Durutalo was born in New York City while his parents were studying in the USA. He has a USA passport. When he was young, his parents returned to Fiji to pursue their careers. There his father began work as a lecturer in economics and sociology at the University of the South Pacific. His mother began as a lecturer in Political Science and International Relations at USP.
When he was still a child, Durutalo’s father died of an illness. His mother, Alumita, remains at USP and is a highly-respected academic in Fiji. A smart young man and a talented rugby player, Durutalo captained the Fiji U19s in the World Junior Championships in Dubai in 2006, leading his side to a lopsided victory over the USA. He also played for the Fiji U21s, and then earned a scholarship to Hakuoh University in Japan.
The 6-3, 250-pound loose forward in 15s speaks Fijian, England and Japanese, all well, and was looking to possibly make the Fijian World Cup squad. He didn’t, and now that he has graduated from Hakuah (with a degree in Business Administration), he has moved to Seattle to play for Old Puget Sound Beach and to try out for the USA team.
“It’s time for a change,” Durutalo told RUGBYMag.com. “The opportunity came for me to join Beach and I am here now.”
In fact, he is currently living with Fijian 7s legend Waisale Serevi while he finds a more permanent home. Already his plans are coming to fruition, as USA 7s Coach Al Caravelli has named him to the upcoming Pan-Am Games camp.
“I grew up with rugby in Fiji and there you learn the skills,” said the 23-year-old. “I try to bring a power running game to the team. I have some speed and I have those basic skills. So I hope I can help the team. Right now, I am just trying to get into shape and try to make the Pan-Am Games team.”