Old Glory will be missing the services of Felix Kalapu next season, as the 22-year-old has signed a 3-year deal with Super Rugby team Western Force in Australia. While this departure is definitely a loss for OGDC, it's also not especially surprising. Kalapu is young, highly talented, and was already getting hard looks from Super Rugby before he came to the MLR. After he was signed by OGDC in the fall of 2021, he was picked up by Manu Samoa, practicing with them in hopes of joining the team. It delayed his move to DC, leaving many commentators to speculate that he would never actually join Old Glory as announced. Ultimately, of course, he didn't end up on the final roster for Manu Samoa, instead joining OGDC part way through the 2022 season.
His lone half-season was definitely a memorable one, though. He played a full 80 minutes, walking straight into the starting lineup and delivered a massive hit within seconds of kickoff. He was suspended for three weeks for that hit but was right back in the starting lineup when he was available. He proceeded to play 513 minutes in the second half of the season, more than any forward in that time. In total, he racked up 593 minutes in 8 matches, with 7 starts.
While initially signed as a lock, Kalapu spent most of his time lining up alongside Cory Daniel at flanker. His speed and aggressive physicality made him a force to be reckoned with in the loose, and the fact that he could cover lock as well was a bonus. He will leave quite a hole in the roster.
For the MLR as a whole, this is great. The MLR is continuing to prove that it's a viable launch pad for careers overseas, so we should see more young talent take a chance to prove themselves in North America. Certainly, it looks like Kalapu's career is heading in the right direction. Best of luck, Felix!
Curious who has been signed and who is leaving? Check out our 2023 Signings Tracker for all the updates!