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Ma'a Nonu re-signs with San Diego Legion to confirm MLR return

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Stuart Walmsley/Getty Images)

All Blacks great Ma’a Nonu is returning to the United States for the next chapter of his storied playing career.


Fresh after his two recent appearances for Ngati Porou East Coast in New Zealand’s Heartland Championship, Nonu has announced his return to Major League Rugby by re-signing with the San Diego Legion.

The announcement comes more than a year-and-a-half after Nonu’s last outing for the Legion during last year’s MLR campaign, which was cancelled after just five rounds due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

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All Blacks react to 104-14 victory over USA Eagles

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All Blacks react to 104-14 victory over USA Eagles

During his first spell with the Californian club – who he joined after returning to New Zealand for a third spell with the Blues in an unsuccessful bid to play for the All Blacks at the 2019 World Cup – Nonu made four appearances and scored three tries.

At the time of MLR’s cancellation, the 39-year-old had helped guide the Legion to the top of the Western Conference with five wins from as many matches.

The move back to San Diego and MLR continues the common theme of Nonu returning to former teams for second – or, in the case of the Blues, third – stints.

In 2015, he made a long-awaited return to the Hurricanes, the Super Rugby franchise of which he debuted for in 2003 and left in 2011 after being dropped by then-head coach Mark Hammett, and helped guide the side to that year’s final.


In addition to that and his three one-year deals with the Blues, Nonu was picked up by Toulon as a medical joker during last season’s Top 14 after being left out-of-contract following the cancellation of MLR.

That move, where he made 16 appearances and picked up both a yellow and a red card, came two years after his last outing for the French club after having joined them on a two-season deal following the 2015 World Cup.

Having made his professional debut for Wellington in 2002, Nonu brings with him almost two decades’ worth of playing experience to San Diego, including more than 300 professional matches, 103 tests for the All Blacks and two World Cup titles.

In this year’s edition of MLR, the Legion failed to qualify for the play-offs, picking up six wins from 16 matches to finish fourth in the Western Conference.


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