SaberCats flanker Asa Carter: A teacher off the field, a student of the game

Feb 12, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

For Asa Carter, the duality of rugby and football is primal. At both sports’ heart, it’s about physicality, competition and teamwork.
And the Houston SaberCats’ flanker, back for another season for a returning playoff squad in the ultra-competitive Major League Rugby arena, compartmentalizes a lot. Between the Arkansas State graduate’s work as a teacher and math tutor in Houston to his training for this season, it’s all about excelling and soaking up the experience.
“Life comes in different episodes and seasons,” said Carter, who majored in mechanical engineering and minored in mathematics. “And rugby is my season now. I never want to leave a card unturned. I can always go and do something else later on in my life. I think about now. I live for the moment.”
For a decade, Carter has played rugby. Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Carter played big-time high school football at Union High School as a tight end and defensive end. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Carter is big, strong and athletic.
“The carryover is funny because I think the football field desensitizes you,” Carter said. “I’ve played against guys on the football field who are 6-foot-7, 340 pounds. That desensitizes you to running into a big 300-pound moose head prop. It doesn’t really faze me as someone transferring over from football. You’re callused to contact.”
Carter, 24, previously played for the Dallas Jackals after a trade from Austin Gilgronis.
He was selected 20th overall in the Major League Rugby collegiate draft in 2021, playing for the Austin Gilgronis Academy team. He was a high school All-American who earned a European championship and has played for the USA Under 20s World Rugby squad.
For a decade, Carter has dedicated himself to rugby. The camaraderie of the sport is what he embraces.
“The community and the culture, I really enjoy that,” Carter said. “At the end of the day, rugby is like a family. It’s still a competitive and very serious kind of sport. It brings the intensity. It has good values. You have each others’ back, like a small family.”
Lining up at flanker on the open side of the back row, Carter is in the thick of the action.
“I really like how you’re giving the opportunity to be very tenacious and attack the game and have the opportunity to wreak some havoc and be a valuable piece on both sides of the ball,” Carter said.
During the offseason, Carter spends his time as a math tutor and teaches physical education in the Houston Independent School district. He previously tutored in Dallas before signing on with HISD.
“It was cool,” Carter said. “One of the things I noticed is a lot of students are looking for a positive influence and connection in their life and it’s something important in school. Being associated with those things is a positive experience. Those things really matter and you can see that you do affect people. Later on in life, kids go on in a better foot and are more educated.”
When Carter isn’t playing rugby, training or tutoring, he describes himself as an outdoorsy person. He enjoys going to scenic Memorial Park. He goes to concerts at the House of Blues and visiting Galveston and Austin.
“I love Austin,” Carter said. “It’s a really beautiful place. Galveston was pretty cool. Houston, it’s the little things I enjoy.”
The SaberCats won a franchise-record 10 games last season before losing in the playoffs. They return multiple players, including leading scorer Davy Coetzer and have several talented newcomers.
“I think this past year was like a shooting point for where we want to end up this season,” Carter said. “Now, it’s kind of like ‘Okay, we’re good enough to get to that point, and now it’s about executing and going for the biggest goal we can achieve.’ Hey, we’re contenders.”