Catching up with Rookie of the Year: Dallas Jackals’ Sam Golla
First overall pick in the 2022 Major League Rugby Collegiate Draft, Sam Golla entered professional rugby with high expectations surrounding him.
The 2023 Collegiate Draft wrapped up in August, and North America’s top collegiate talent is preparing to follow in the 24-year-old’s “Rookie of the Year” footsteps.
In the past 12 months, the versatile forward has already realized some of that expectation. Arriving at the Dallas Jackals, the only way was up for the Texas club, who experienced a winless debut season.
With the team’s new coaching direction from Agustin Cavalieri, Golla was a central figure in helping Dallas to improve fortunes and a 2-14 record in the Western Conference.
Always competitive, Golla was virtually ever-present in the Jackals’ second row, starring for the team on their journey and standing head and shoulders above many.
“I am honored to receive this award,” Golla said. “I believe there were some great rookies out there that kept me on my toes throughout the entire season, beginning to end.
“So, to receive this award demonstrates the young talent in this league throughout.”
In keeping with his counterparts, Golla’s efforts saw him in Scott Lawrence’s extended USA Men’s Eagles squad, the playing group that faced Romania, Portugal, and Georgia this August.
After five years at the University of California, Berkeley, Golla was well-prepared to leap into professional rugby.
Looking accomplished from the off, the 24-year-old spoke midseason of his journey, from being the “worst player on the team” at Cal, to one of their best.
Stepping into the Jackals’ ranks, Golla instantly established himself as one of the team’s stars and will likely be the face of the franchise for the years to come.
Starting in all 16 regular season games, Golla would score three tries for his team, completed 213 tackles, just shy of 600 meters with ball-in-hand, and was generally a pest to his opposition at all times.
“By no means was it easy,” Golla said of his debut campaign, “this season has tested me more mentally and physically than ever before.
“My Dad always says take it one day at a time, so that’s what I did. I’ve had bad games and bad trainings, but it’s all about the next step and the next job.”
After the frivolities of this summer, Golla returns to Texas in order to prepare for the 2024 MLR season.
How Cavalieri and the team’s General Manager, Santiago Sodini, will take Dallas to the next level remains to be seen.
But, after such a positive campaign, where the Jackals found themselves rarely well-beaten, Golla is confident that the future will bring more positives for his team.
“The Jackals have made tremendous strides this year as a team and as an organization,” Golla said.
“We put a lot of hard hours and performances on the table, and tested teams with years of cohesion.
“I know the team wants more success and wins, which will come with more time and training.
“We must build, and that is something the players, coaches, and staff are eager to do.
“In 2024, I’m looking forward to a new season with a motivated Jackals side. We got a taste of what winning was like, so we are ready to achieve that in the future.”
WRITTEN BY JOE HARVEY
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