'Being an American kid I never thought I'd be on the same field as Quade Cooper'
On the 13th of June, 24 players from a pool of over 400 prospects were drafted into Major League Rugby squads for next season.
Two of the players picked in the inaugural Major League Rugby Collegiate Draft also share an Australian connection, having both played for club side the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
Bronson Teles and Patrick Madden were both awarded the Mark Loane Medal in 2016 and 2017 respectively, which allowed the American High School players to come to Brisbane as they continued their rugby development.
From the University of Arizona, Teles was selected 21st overall by Dallas Jackals who were announced as the competitions 13thand newest franchise at the beginning of this month.
Denmark-born Teles began playing rugby at the age of nine for Texan club Katy Barbarians. Being drafted was the result of years of hard work and resilience, and the backrower is looking forward to helping shape a franchise in their inaugural season.
“To be involved in the first ever Major League Rugby Draft was already a milestone for me as well as a moment that I’ll never forget. To say that I was drafted let alone is still a surreal feeling,” Teles told RugbyPass.
“I have dreamt about moments like these and I can certainly say that I absorbed every second of the draft process. It was a spectacular moment in my life and an extraordinary feeling to be with my family on the special day. Now it’s time to work and make the most of my opportunity.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of a new franchise. New opportunities, new challenges and new expectations at hand. It’s exciting to be a part of the Dallas culture and atmosphere, and bring the game to that side of Texas.”
Reflecting on his time in Australia, Teles revealed that he learnt a lot from the opportunity to come Down Under.
“Playing at UQ was a special time in my life. The rugby, the culture, the boys, all around was class. Immersing myself in the developmental academies that UQ had to offer was extraordinary.
“The boys were amazing and showed me the ropes of Brisbane. I couldn’t have had a better time in Australia. Loved every second of my time there.”
Teles’ High School All-American teammate Patrick Madden was awarded the same accolade a year later, visiting Australia in 2018.
Madden began playing rugby at five-years-old, when his neighbour started the first youth club in San Diego.
It was then only fitting that MLR powerhouse San Diego Legion took a chance on the hometown prospect years later, who was drafted 12th overall.
The playmaker has looked to make the most of any and all rugby opportunities over the years, which included following in Teles footsteps.
“I got into my first year of Uni and I got a call from Salty Thompson who at the time was the USA High School All-American coach, and he informed me about the Mark Loane Medal which was the partnership between Mark Loane and the UQ Business and Law program,” Madden said.
“Getting that call, that was another call that I’ll never forget just like the call from San Diego Legion. I remember I was sitting in my dorm room and I got the call from Salty saying ‘hey, you’ve won this award and I know it’s a lot but if you do accept it, we have to get you out to New York for the award ceremony in November.
“Then from there, you’re spending your entire summer in Brisbane playing for UQ.’”
Less than 24 hours after arriving Down Under, he’d played a game and a half for his new club before celebrating with a well-earned rest as he continued to battle jetlag.
“I just wanted to go and be a sponge. Picking up as much knowledge as I can, picking the brains of some of the best rugby minds in the country, and being at such a respected club like UQ.
“It put me in the right position to excel in my career and so I knew it was another stepping stone in doing what I want to do, which is playing professional rugby and hopefully one day, getting my first cap as an Eagle.”
“It was when Quade Cooper was playing for Souths at the time, so being an American kid I never thought I’d be on the same field as Quade Cooper, so that was amazing. I don’t think I’d be in the position that I am today without my time spent with UQ.”
Having the opportunity to learn from the international talent such as Robshaw and Legion co-coach Zack Test, he’s itching to get to work with the 2019 MLR runners up.
“I actually just got off the phone with [Zack] Testy yesterday, just going over what he expects for me coming into the pre-season, what I need to work on and just some key points. We started chatting about the opportunity that I have.
“To be a 21-year-old and be training day-in and day-out with the likes of Chris Robshaw, it looks like Ma’a Nonu will be coming back, Joe Pietersen, you just go down the list and there’s all these international players who are now playing in MLR.
“I’m happy San Diego is willing to take a shot on the local kid. There’s a lot of stuff that’s sent me this way, UQ and my time in Brisbane being one of them.”
Teles and Madden felt that they grew as rugby players from their time in Australia, which led to them being drafted earlier this month.
Both players will look to debut for their new teams when Major League Rugby returns next year.
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