MERLINA SAN NICOLAS LEYVA | Reporter
Nick Feakes, who helped Lindenwood win two national rugby championships, has signed a professional contract with the New Orleans Gold Rugby Football Club.
Feakes, a former sports editor for Legacy magazine and Lindenlink, started playing rugby when he was 12 years old in his hometown of Canberra, Australia.
“Some of my friends had started playing rugby, so I decided to try it out and was hooked straight away,” Feakes said.
While in Australia, Feakes struggled to get chosen to play for provincial teams, so he thought of coming to the United States to play. After researching Lindenwood’s rugby program, Feakes got in touch with the coach and was awarded a scholarship.
At first, Feakes thought the level of rugby play in the U.S would be low, but he soon found out things were much better.
“Once I got here I was blown away by the standard at the upper echelon of the college game,” Feakes said. “In Australia at my club, I was only training twice a week; at Lindenwood, we trained every day and also went to the gym.”
With Lindenwood, Feakes won the 2017 and 2018 USA Rugby 7’s College National Championships and was voted most valuable player on both occasions. On April 1, Feakes was also nominated for Player of the Year, an award given to a Division I rugby athlete. Along with accomplishing wins with the team and achieving his individual goals, Feakes said he is grateful for the people rugby has brought into his life.
“The thing I’ll really cherish about my time in Lindenwood is the friendships I’ve made,” Feakes said. “It may sound cliché, but I’ve made some mates that I’ll stay in contact with for the rest of my life.”
Jack Huckstepp, one of Feakes’ former teammates, is also from Australia and said he agrees that Lindenwood was the best decision they both made. Growing up, Huckstepp and Feakes knew each other but never got the opportunity to bond until they both came to play in the United States.
“It took us both moving halfway across the world to this completely different place to become the close friends we are today,” Huckstepp said. “That’s been the best thing about our experience.”
After graduating from Lindenwood, Feakes decided that playing in Major League Rugby was something he wanted to do before going full time into the communications field. During the summer, Feakes traveled to New Orleans to meet with the coaches and players. On Oct. 19, Feakes officially signed with the professional club.
While at Lindenwood, Feakes played fly-half, leading plays and tactics, but with NOLA, Feakes will be playing as a fullback, one of the most important positions for attack.
Josh Macy, the head coach of the men’s rugby team, said that it was only “a matter of time before someone snatched him up.”
“Feakes has taken every opportunity at Lindenwood to make a name for himself,” Macy said. “Nick can break open a game at any time, his playmaking ability and top end speed can create a try out of nowhere, he is fiery on the field and dedicated off of it.”
Feakes is now getting ready for the season, which runs from January to June, training every day to keep his body in good shape.
Correction: Nov. 12, 5:28 p.m. The story was updated to say Feakes was nominated for player of the year.