Meet The 2023 MLR Draft’s First Overall Pick, Ricky Rose

Written by Joe Harvey Photos Provided by Rick Rose

Ricky Rose was picked first overall in the 2023 Major League Collegiate Rugby Draft. A lock forward, the St. Bonaventure stands 6ft 7in tall and will join the league’s newest team, the Miami Sharks.

Captaining the Bonnies last season, Rose arrives highly rated. In such demand at the moment, the youngster is taking part in the USA Rugby High-Performance Academy, which has assembled in North Carolina, and is also getting ready to represent his country at the World University Rugby Invitation Tournament (WURIT) in Bordeaux this Fall.

Following in the footsteps of last year’s second overall pick, Sebastiano Villani, Rose was certainly taken aback at learning he had been first overall in this year’s Collegiate Draft.

“It was a pretty fantastic stretch of days, including the day of (the Draft),” Rose said. “I felt very fortunate to have been brought to be in the first round, but I had no idea where I was going to go.

“To hear number one was pretty spectacular. That’s definitely something I have been very proud to tell family and friends, and it was a fun day to talk my way through the crowd.

“It is a reminder that nothing has really happened yet. This was just the pat on the back and the entrance through the gates. Certainly, it has been a lot of planning, thinking, and modeling myself physically and mentally, the best I can before I show up.

“I feel as though I have engaged in some good opportunities to get there with the offseason work, but it has been a great motivator.”

Currently in camp alongside USA Rugby’s hottest prospects, Rose’s days consist of a professional training regime and evenings studying lineouts from across the world as he continues his development.

That development started back in high school. Rugby surrounded Rose’s early life. His father, Rick Rose Snr, a veteran with Beacon Hill RFC (now Boston RFC), began to play the game after his time as a college kicker came to a close, the jerseys and cleats littered throughout the home.

But it was not until Rose’s mother prompted him to give rugby a try that he went for it. Attending Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a strong high school program there, and quickly, Rose began to thrive.

Coached by Dan Arbenzik, Tony Vegh, and Brian White, Rose credits much of the success he is experiencing now to those early days with the Saint Ignatius Wildcats.

“I was a late bloomer in high school, especially physically,” Rose said. “When I first came in, I did play lock because I was tall, but I didn’t really get a grip on it. I loved the social aspect of it, the friends, and the off-field aspects, but I didn’t have a clue—especially freshman year.

“Late in my sophomore year, I had a big growth spurt. I shot up real tall, and in one of the games, I was running with the ball, and I thought, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if I run really hard, just run forward, attack the line, and see what happens.’

“I think I got three yards, but that was the spark that made me say, ‘if I really start working hard now, if I take this seriously, I think I would be a lot happier, I would have the opportunity to get better and enjoy the sport more.’”

Joining the wrestling team to help his conditioning, among other things, Rose gradually rose through the ranks to being in the first team. So, when the time to apply for colleges came around, rugby was close to the heart of decision-making.

Opting for St. Bonaventure, in the end, was reasonably simple. A program that has had success over the years, including the development of MLR Shield winner Kyle Ciquera, last year’s second overall pick, and three Draft selections in 2023, Rose again rose through the ranks.

Within a month of his freshman season beginning, Rose was turning out for the Varsity team. Finishing his time in New York as the Bonnies’ captain and an All-American, it is safe to say that being under the tutelage of Tui Osborne and Danny Neighbour has been successful.

With several months to prepare for a debut MLR season with the Miami Sharks, Rose is using that time wisely. Not too far from jetting off to France for the WURIT Championships competition, that attitude of hard work above all else is not stopping any time soon.

“That has been the focal point of my focus, especially lately: preparation and getting myself as best I can be for opening day,” Rose said.

“I have got to be buying sunscreen en masse. I’ll definitely be getting a tan I have never had down there. The training has been immensely physical lately in USA camp. It’s been a good footstool to build my training process.

“Definitely been a lot of work on the body, physically, a lot mentally with lineouts and a lot of studying. You really put your nose down to the paper with the officiality of the Draft and all.”

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