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Rugby: Wooching shines for USA Selects

Updated: 
October 12, 2017 - 12:05am

Psalm Wooching is a long way from home, but he’s never been closer to making his dream a reality.

Wooching, a Kealakehe graduate and former defensive standout with the Washington Huskies football team, is taking part in the Americas Pacific Challenge as part of the USA Selects rugby squad.

Wooching scored his first international try for the Red, White and Blue on Wednesday in the American’s 49-36 win over host nation Uruguay.

The USA Selects are now 1-1 at the event, and will wrap up play against Canada on Sunday.

The team opened up the tourney with a 48-26 loss to Samoa. Despite coming out on the losing end, it was a memorable experience for Wooching, who is proudly of Samoan descent.

“Surreal feeling,” Wooching wrote on Twitter. “Played my first international game against the motherland.”

After making a name for himself with Washington — leading the team in sacks his senior season — Wooching made the surprising decision to leave football behind, passing up on a chance to make an NFL roster to pursue his dream of playing rugby for the United States in the Olympics.

Wooching was a standout rugby player before he caught on as a top football prospect. The skill set he refined in that sport helped him turn into a multi-faceted athlete on the football field, both as a ball carrier and defensively. He started his career with the Huskies as a fullback before becoming a force at outside linebacker.

“I can’t even describe how much rugby has helped. It gave me a huge advantage,” Wooching said in an interview with West Hawaii Today prior to his senior season.

It showed on his try against Uruguay, athletically hauling in the long kick from flyhalf Mike McCarthy for what will likely be his first of many sporting a USA jersey.

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