Toronto Arrows Announce Quartet of Returnees, Signing of Gonzalez
23 June 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows are pleased to announce a second group of significant signings ahead of the 2021 Major League Rugby season.
The club is pleased to confirm that Richie Asiata, Spencer Jones, Kolby Francis, and Steven Ng will return for the 2021 season, and that the four returnees will be joined by new signing Juan Cruz Gonzalez.
Prop | Brisbane, Australia
The powerful Australian returns to the club following a standout debut season in Major League Rugby, where the 24-year-old started all five matches in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Asiata routinely displayed his proficiency with ball in hand, finishing the season ranked second on the team in tackle breaks (3), third in carries (40), fifth in offloads (3), and sixth in carry metres (198).
The former Junior Wallaby originally joined the Arrows from Mitre 10 Cup side Canterbury. The mobile prop was also a member of the Queensland U20s side that went through the inaugural Super U20s Championship undefeated in 2016, and his strong performances with Queensland Premier Rugby club Easts in subsequent years earned him training stints with Super Rugby side Reds.
Centre | Cambridge, New Zealand (via Vancouver, British Columbia)
While unable to feature during the shortened 2020 season due to injury, Jones appeared in 16 matches for the Arrows in 2019. The centre produced a strong debut season with the club, finishing third on the team in linebreaks (9), third in minutes played (1,171), fourth in carry metres (719), fourth in offloads (6), fifth in made tackles (159), fifth in carries (82), and seventh in tries scored (3).
Born in Vancouver but raised in New Zealand, the 22-year-old originally joined the Arrows from Westshore RFC of the British Columbia Premier League.
Lock / No. 8 | Brantford, Ontario
Francis has made 18 appearances for the Arrows over his two seasons with the club, including featuring in four games in 2020, where he had eight carries and 28 tackles (93.3% completion). In his debut season with the Arrows, Francis scored five tries, had 57 carries, ran for 282 carry metres, and completed 68 tackles.
The 23-year-old forward is a graduate of the Ontario Blues senior men’s provincial program, and played his grassroots rugby with the Brantford Harlequins.
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Hooker | Ottawa, Ontario
Ng featured in all five matches in the shortened 2020 season, and is one of only two Arrows to have played in every match (22) in franchise history. The durable hooker has amassed 70 carries, 268 carry metres, three offloads, and 108 tackles over his two years with the club.
The 22-year-old represented the Canada under-20s in 2017, and played his grassroots rugby with the Barrhaven Scottish.
Juan Cruz Gonzalez
Fly-half / Fullback | Buenos Aires, Argentina
A former teammate of current Arrows stalwart Tomas de la Vega, Gonzalez joins the Arrows after several years spent at Club Universitario de Buenos Aires (CUBA). The versatile back has long been a standout for Argentina XV in the Americas Rugby Championship and Americas Pacific Challenge, scoring five tries and kicking for 108 points over 17 appearances for Argentina’s development side. The speedy Argentine has also spent time with his nation’s sevens program, featuring in two World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in the 2015-2016 season.
Gonzalez appeared in 110 URBA Top 14 / Top 12 matches with CUBA between 2011 and 2019, scoring 29 tries and racking up 688 total points throughout the decade. The 27-year-old most recently plied his trade with CAU Madrid Rugby in Spain’s second division for the 2019-2020 season before it was cut short due to the pandemic.
“We are working on our stated goal of continuity, building on the positives from our first two years while ensuring we’re adapting to the growth of the league,” said Arrows Vice President and General Manager Mark Winokur. “Adding an exciting and talented player like Juan brings a new element to our attack that we’re really looking forward to unleashing. Juan has consistently proven himself as a top player in Argentina’s URBA Top 12, and has been a player we’ve watched closely for several years each time he’s faced Canada in the Americas Rugby Championship.”
“Our four returnees — Spencer, Steve, Kolby and Richie — are exciting young players, all between 22 and 24 years of age,” added Winokur. “2021 will still be just the start of their great careers, and all four will be a key part of our push to bring the MLR Shield north to Canada.”
Toronto has now signed 11 players ahead of the club’s 2021 MLR campaign.
The club will be making additional signing announcements in the coming weeks as season preparations continue to build.
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
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Header Photo Credit: Spencer Jones
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