David Niu

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David Niu
Personal information
Full name David Niumataiwalu[1]
Born (1966-01-03) 3 January 1966 (age 52)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 192 lb (87 kg)
Playing information
Rugby league
Position Halfback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1990–91 St. George 19 2 1 0 10
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1994-98–2000-06 United States 88 18 58 2 190
Rugby union
Position Standoff
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1999 United States 8 1 0 1 8
As of 7 March 2009
Source: [2]

David Niumataiwalu, better known as David Niu (born 3 January 1966), is an American dual-code international rugby league and rugby union administrator, coach and former player. Regarded as one of the founders of rugby league in the United States, he established the American National Rugby League (AMNRL), the United States' first domestic rugby league competition and formerly the national governing body for the sport. He is currently president of AFL Global, an organization that hopes to spread arena football around the world.

Niu played for the St. George Rugby Union Club from 1984 to 1989 before shifting to the rugby league code. His professional league career included two seasons with the St. George Dragons in Australia's New South Wales Rugby League (now the National Rugby League) from 1990 to 1991; his position was Scrum-half/Halfback. In 1993 he relocated to the United States where he was involved in promoting both codes. He was one of the founders of the United States national rugby league team, and played on the USA Eagles national rugby union team, appearing in the 1999 Rugby World Cup. In 1997 he founded the competition that became the modern AMNRL, serving as its president until 2013.

Early life and rugby career[edit]

Niumataiwalu was born and raised in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He attended James Cook Boys Technology High School in nearby Kogarah.[3] He is of Fijian descent.[4]

Niu played rugby union for St. George Rugby Union Club from 1984 to 1989, playing a total of 250 first division games.[1] He also represented Sydney, the New South Wales Waratahs and was a member of the Australian Barbarians, and captained the Australian College and University teams from 1984 to 1988. In 1986 he was one of three winners of the Ken Catchpole Medal.[5] In 1987 he earned a spot on the Australian national rugby union team training squad for the 1987 Rugby World Cup.[1][6]

Niu shifted to professional rugby league in 1989. In 1990 he was signed by the St. George Dragons of the New South Wales Rugby League premiership (now the National Rugby League), Australia's highest rugby league competition, as a scrum-half/halfback. He played for St. George for two seasons, appearing in a total of nineteen games and scoring two tries and one field goal.[7] As a former Dragons player, Niu has been outspoken about the club moving away from Kogarah's WIN Jubilee Oval.[8] He later played for the Villeneuve Leopards in France,[9] and had spells with the Bramley[citation needed] and Bradford Bulls[citation needed] in the United Kingdom before retiring.

American career[edit]

In 1991, Niu met his future wife Donna Camac while on a St. George team retreat in Hawaii. He gained a release from the final years of his contract with the Dragons and relocated to her hometown of Philadelphia, where he took a job as a teacher at the Glen Mills Schools, a reform school for court-referred youth with an aptitude for sports.[10] He worked to introduce rugby league at the school, drawing the attention of American rugby league enthusiast Mike Mayer. Niu and Mayer organized a U.S. national rugby league team for a trip to the 1992 Rugby League World Sevens in Sydney. After Mayer departed Niu continued developing the national team, bringing them to international competitions such as the 1995 Emerging Nations Tournament and a short tour of Australia in 1997.[10][11]

During this time, Niu also played rugby union in the U.S. He was named to the United States national rugby union team, making eleven international appearances, including at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. In 2000 he became head coach of Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC in the Rugby Super League, the highest level of rugby union in the United States.[1]

In 1997 Niu was one of the founders of Super League America, the first major attempt to organize a domestic rugby league competition in the United States, and served as the new league's executive director.[3][12] The organization managed the national team and launched a six-club domestic competition. On top of serving as head of Super League America, Niu was also player-coach for the Glen Mills Bulls (now the Aston Bulls), the most dominant team in the league. In 2000 Super League America reorganized as the United States Rugby League, and the following year it became the American National Rugby League.[10][13]

In 2009 Niu was involved in a proposed American professional rugby league competition, the National Rugby League USA (NRLUS), though this failed to get off the ground.[14][15] Niu was also heavily involved in planning the Atlantic Cup tournament, beginning in 2009, and in the United States being awarded the qualifying tournament for the final berth in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.[16]

AFL Global[edit]

In February 2013, Niu resigned from the AMNRL to take a position as president of AFL Global. The organization is an independent business venture that hopes to work with the Arena Football League to expand arena football to China and elsewhere around the world.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "Former USA/Australia Flyhalf to Coach Philadelphia". rugby.com.au. 23 August 2001. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  2. ^ RLP
  3. ^ a b "R2K interviews David Niu" R2K, 19 May 2002
  4. ^ Eric Deggans (2 February 2010). "Battle of Bati date set". Fiji Sun. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Fardy and Harvey share 2008 Ken Catchpole Medal". heavensgame.com. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  6. ^ http://www.americantowns.com/nj/seaislecity/news/american-national-rugby-league-war-at-the-shore-amazed-spectators-on-july-26-115576
  7. ^ http://www.rugbyleagueproject.org/players/David_Niu.html
  8. ^ David Niu: Dragons need to consider Kogarah fans Return to Kogarah Press Release
  9. ^ Hadfield, Dave (8 December 1992). "Rugby League: Wigan have work cut out". The Independent. London. 
  10. ^ a b c Hannan, Tony (April 2002). "Niu York, Niu York!". Rugby League World. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  11. ^ World Cup 1995 details Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. The Vault
  12. ^ "Room for Rugby". Jacksonville Business Journal. 13 December 1999. Retrieved 7 February 2011. 
  13. ^ David Hundt (4 May 2001). "Who's in control?". 13world.com. rivals.net. Archived from the original on 28 July 2002. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  14. ^ [1] The Herald Sun Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Staff (7 February 2010). "Big USA money chasing Stacey Jones". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Steve Mascord (16 November 2010). "League World Cup to break new territory". sportsnewsfirst.com.au. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  17. ^ About AFL Global page

External links[edit]