Toronto Arrows Announce Trio of Returnees, Signings of Cortes, Vikilani
10 July 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows are pleased to announce a third group of significant signings ahead of the 2021 Major League Rugby season.
The club is pleased to confirm that Paul Ciulini, Cole Keith, and Gaston Mieres will return for the 2021 season, and that the three returnees will be joined by Argentinian international prop Gaston Cortes and recent Canada under-20 grad Siaki Vikilani.
Lock | Maple, Ontario
Ciulini started all five matches in the shortened 2020 season, and has featured in all but one match (21) in franchise history. The durable lock has amassed 92 carries, 369 carry metres, 230 tackles (91.6% completion), two tackle breaks and one try over his two years with the club.
The 24-year-old lock has earned eight caps for Canada, making five starts and scoring one try, and has the notable distinction of being the youngest player to ever start at lock for Canada (20y, 101d against Uruguay on Feb. 6, 2016).
Ciulini is a graduate of the Ontario Blues senior men’s provincial program, represented the Canada under-20s in 2015, and played his grassroots rugby with the Aurora Barbarians.
Prop | Apohaqui, New Brunswick
Keith featured in all five matches in the shortened 2020 campaign, and has made 18 appearances over his two seasons with the club. The young forward has made 64 carries, 289 carry metres, 117 tackles (88% completion), and 11 dominant tackles throughout the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
The 23-year-old prop has won 16 caps for Canada, including featuring at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He is also the seventh-youngest player to be capped for Canada (19y, 280d against Chili on Feb. 11, 2017).
Keith represented the Canada under-20s in 2017, and played his grassroots rugby with the Belleisle Rovers.
Fullback / Wing | Punta del Este, Uruguay
Mieres featured in three matches as part of the shortened 2020 season, and has made 13 appearances over his two years with the club. The speed merchant has proven to be one of Major League Rugby’s deadliest finishers, scoring eight tries, running for 952 carry metres and 17 linebreaks, and adding five tackle breaks and offloads apiece in 2019 and 2020.
The 30-year-old back has collected 70 caps for Uruguay – sixth-most all-time for Los Teros – including making 60 starts and scoring 13 tries. He featured for his national team at both the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Mieres has also represented Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in both 2013 and 2018, as well as for the Uruguayan under-20s in 2009, and played his grassroots rugby with Lobos.
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Prop | Cordoba, Argentina
The third Argentinian to join the Arrows for 2021, Cortes arrives from PRO14 club Glasgow Warriors; the prop had signed a short-term loan with the Scottish outfit this past February, but was unable to feature before the season was cut short.
Prior to joining the Warriors, Cortes enjoyed an accomplished career in England; he played 114 games for Bristol over a six-year spell between 2012 and 2018, including winning promotion from the RFU Championship on two occasions. Cortes later moved to Leicester Tigers, where he made 10 appearances for the Premiership club.
The 34-year-old has five caps for Los Pumas, spanning from his debut against Chile in 2011 to his most recent appearance against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship in 2018. He played his grassroots rugby with Cordoba Athletic Club.
No. 8 / Flanker | Burnaby, British Columbia
The 6’3”, 235lbs back row player joins the club from Rugby Canada’s Pacific Pride development program, where the 19-year-old was a regular starter in the British Columbia Premiership.
Vikilani has represented Canada at the under-20 (2020) and under-19 (2019) age grades, and becomes the fifth Pacific Pride player to sign with the Arrows. He played his grassroots rugby with Burnaby Lake.
“Our latest group of signings, much like our earlier signing announcements, embodies our club’s philosophy surrounding player recruitment,” said Arrows Vice President and General Manager Mark Winokur. “This group is made up of three young, up-and-coming Canadian players hungry to advance their game at home, supplemented by two experienced internationals who have the bodies of work and mindsets to bolster our squad and fit within our team culture.”
“Paul makes a huge impact for us out there, especially at the breakdown, and is still in the early part of his career. We’re looking for big things from him as he continues his growth.”
“Cole had a very strong start to the 2020 season. He really ramped up his fitness and it showed throughout the park. Even though he is very young by front-row standards, Cole was able to control and dominate more experienced players across from him.”
“Gaston Mieres was deadly in his three matches in 2020, and is not only experienced at the back but a consistent line break threat and one we are very happy to have back.”
“Gaston Cortes brings years of experience from the English Premiership, Championship and Argentina, and will be a big help to our group of young props both on and off the field.”
“Siaki is a very promising young Canadian player who we have tracked during his time with the Pacific Pride. He brings physicality and athleticism, and even though he’s still in his teens, we project a big future for him and is a great example of the Canadian pathway at work.”
Toronto has now signed 16 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: Jose Romelo Lagman
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