USA international Bulou Mataitoga has extended her stay with Loughborough Lightning into a third season after signing a new contract.

The versatile back made her Lightning debut against Wasps in January 2022 and has gone on to make 36 appearances for the African Violets, scoring eight tries.

Mataitoga has balanced her Club duties with a prominent role for the USA Eagles, moving to 17 international caps with her involvement in the recent Pacific Four Series that culminated with a fabulous victory away in Australia.

“Playing with Lightning has been an incredible experience for me,” Mataitgoa said. “When I first joined the team and moved to England, I didn’t know what I was getting into and what to expect. But that was the beautiful part of the journey, in not knowing but trusting and having faith in something bigger than me.

“Three years later I’m happy to say it was absolutely the right move for me. I get to train everyday with amazing teammates and coaches who push us to the next level.

“The standards at Lightning have only been improving since I’ve been here, and that shows in how we’ve finished the season this year.”

“We drive each other at training and it's rewarding to work day in and day out with teammates who are motivated to get better each time. I’ve seen so much growth in the younger players, and especially our BUCS girls making the finals this year. I’ve seen plenty of growth within my own game as well. It’s pretty unreal to play with the other international girls, to learn from them and grow on the same team.”

Mataitoga scored in Lightning’s final game of the season against Saracens as they finished fifth in the Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby table, a big improvement on the previous campaign's final placing of eighth.

“We all know our potential to reach a top-four position. Our set piece has been a big point of difference. Our forwards put in so much time outside of training, and that's been consistent.”

Bulou Mataitoga , Loughborough Lightning

“We all know our potential to reach a top-four position,” added Mataitoga. “We’ve grown in our playing style, in our ability to attack through, over, or around teams. Our set piece has been a big point of difference. Our forwards put in so much time outside of training, and that's been consistent. The depth of our backline is also a point of difference, we have dynamic players of all ranges, and we keep working on that chemistry we have.”

Mataitoga is the latest international to commit their future to Lightning, as head coach Nathan Smith seeks to build on the foundations of the 2023/24 campaign heading into next season.

“We are really lucky that Baz has decided to re-sign with us,” Smith said. “She is very versatile, however, she has performed very well on a consistent basis in the centres, which has been great to see. Baz adds great calmness amongst the group which rubs off really well with the younger players.

“There’s always a sense of unpredictability when Baz gets the ball. She has got a great skillset in her locker. She is brilliant at offloading and looking for holes in the defence to exploit and is strong both sides of the ball.”

Loughborough Lightning season tickets for the 2024/25 Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby season are available now priced from just £40* adults and £20* children.