Written By Joe Harvey I Photos By Dave Snook and Big Shot Snap Shots
In his debut Major League Rugby season, Christian Dyer and the Houston SaberCats reached new heights. For the first time, the SaberCats reached the playoffs, while Dyer enjoyed a dominant first season in the league.
Now in Dubai with the USA Eagles as Gary Gold’s team prepare to compete with Kenya, Hong Kong, and Portugal in the Final Qualification Tournament for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, 24-year-old Dyer spoke to Major League Rugby about his first season in MLR, this tournament in Dubai, and launching his podcast, The Chase.
PHOTO BY DAVE SNOOK
A DEBUT MLR SEASON
Before the 2022 MLR season, Dyer was one of many players to commit themselves to the Houston SaberCats. Since the league’s inaugural season in 2018, the team had never made the playoffs and enlisted the help of former South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer to lead the team.
When the season got underway, it quickly became clear that Dyer was a vital cog in the Houston machine. Starting 16 games, the 24-year-old scored seven tries, ran for 816 meters, and beat 16 defenders.
Along with Dyer, veteran USA internationals Danny Barrett and Matai Leuta arrived at AVEVA Stadium, as did a number of South Africans and Argentine players.
Finishing the regular season with a 9-7 record, the side hosted the Western Conference Final in late June, a major step forward for a side that made such wholesale changes.
Ultimately losing in the postseason 27-46 to eventual runners-up, the Seattle Seawolves, Dyer reflects fondly on his season with the SaberCats.
“My time with Houston was incredible. We created something very special in such a short amount of time, and I really attribute that to Heyneke Meyer, the staff that he brought in, and even the management and those behind the scenes.”
“It is a culture of chasing excellence in all aspects of the game and life, then the individuals that Coach Meyer brought in, players around the world; it didn’t really matter if you were from South Africa or Argentina or New Zealand.
“Everybody loves the game of rugby, and everybody wanted to win. Those are your two fundamental aspects of a team that you need to reach a level of success. Everybody wanted to win. We didn’t get everything right all the time.
“We fell short in games we shouldn’t have fell short, and I think we underperformed in the postseason. But it is definitely a platform that myself and the whole team can gain confidence from in the year to come.”
PHOTO BY BIG SHOTS SNAPSHOTS
WORLD CUP CALLING
For the past six weeks, Dyer has been preparing to help qualify the USA for the Rugby World Cup. After failing to beat Chile over two legs in the summer, for the next month Dyer and his Eagles teammates will be going toe-to-toe with three other nations looking to book their place in France next year.
Their opposition last weekend was Kenya. On Sunday, Dyer scored three tries against the Eagles’ African opposition and was only beaten to the Player of the Match award by Rugby New York’s Dylan Fawsitt, who also bagged a trio of scores.
50-22 done so well
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) November 7, 2022
This weekend Hong Kong is the USA’s opposition, while Portugal will be lining up opposite Gary Gold’s team a week later. Their preparation has seen the team travel to South Africa and play the Free State Cheetahs and Pumas before flying to the United Arab Emirates.
Despite losing their two preparation games, through spending such an extended period of time together, Dyer believes that the squad is in a good place ahead of these upcoming Tests.
“From the technical aspect, it’s amazing,” Dyer said. “We have been able to have two proper matches against the Cheetahs and Pumas, and we gave everything we had in those matches, then we hit the drawing board the following days to really understand what style of play suits us best and what parts of our game needed more attention.”
“We’re coming together as a team, bonds are becoming stronger than they were, we are understanding who the other players are off the field. I think that is an important topic that doesn’t get discussed enough’ some of the best teams in the world have strong connections off the field as well.
“At the end of the day, we are all humans, so it’s important to understand how to get the best out of your teammate. We are searching for the soul of the team, and we are just scratching the surface in that regard.”
PHOTO BY DAVE SNOOK
This offseason, along with representing his country, Dyer has kept himself busy by launching his podcast, The Chase. Centered around speaking to high-performing individuals, The Chase will delve into the mindset of competitors to establish why they are leaders in their discipline.
The Chase is a platform to share stories about chasing a dream in life, and the lessons they have learned on their journey. My fundamental goal is to inspire people to chase their dreams, no matter what they may be.
To kick-start the series, Dyer spoke to UFC fighter Josh Emmett. Currently the world’s number three featherweight, it has been a longstanding ambition of the former USA Sevens player to start this project, and one that he is savoring.
“I have always suffered from imposter syndrome where I was just too fearful about what other people would say about it,” Dyer said. “At the end of the day, it is such a love of mine and a passion of mine; I wanted to be able to create these stories and share these amazing stories with other people.
“All the people I have has on the show so far have been inspirations to me. I think a lot of other people would be able to benefit from their words and their stories. That’s why I created The Chase; I wanted to share these incredible stories of chasing a dream and do my best to roadmap what it takes to be great at something. It really only takes hearing one thing from one person to change someone’s life.
“We’ve had individuals on the show that have come from wealthy backgrounds and upbringings, and we have had individuals that come from pretty dark childhoods.
“At the end of the day, no dream is too big, and I want to share that and expose this truth.”
“The goal is to inspire someone else to go and chase their dream. I am really, really happy with where we started, but there is so much more to go.”
The post HOUSTON’S CHRISTIAN DYER – ‘WE CREATED SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL’ appeared first on Major League Rugby.