Angus MacLellan is one of three US players now playing at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He joins former Life All American Colton Cariaga and former Junior All American teammate Pierce Dargan in the footsteps of guys like Shawn Pittman, Scott Lavalla and Cameron Falcon, who parlayed a stint with Trinity into a National Team call-up. Pittman and Lavalla are regular Eagle selections, and Falcon is getting his shot in the Americas Rugby Championship later this month.
For MacLellan, the Trinity experience is just the second leg of a globetrotting attempt at getting better in the scrum. He spent the summer, along with Dargan, in the Crusaders Academy in Christchurch, NZ. The All American prop from Davenport, already mobile and fit for his position, felt he wasn’t going to get much better at packing down by staying in the US.
“Playing collegiately in the US you go up against a few good teams that have a big pack here and there, but the scrumming never seems to be too much of a challenge, and then I’d go and play with the U20s team and scrumming would be something that I’d really need to work on when I go and play at an international level,” said MacLellan.
“So I realized I wasn’t getting tested as well as I could scrumming in the US, so that’s why I wanted to go to New Zealand and Ireland, and that’s basically been the focus of my weaknesses, to improve over here.”
In New Zealand, MacLellan trained and played with and against Super Rugby and ITM Cup players, and he was coached by Super Rugby and ITM Cup coaches.
“I was in the gym every day and Dan Carter and Richie McCaw were in there with me, so it’s a pretty amazing experience. You get to meet tons of people, you get really great coaching, and at the same time you’re playing on one of the teams in the Christchurch club competition, so you play at a very high level down there, as well,” said MacLellan.
“It opened my eyes to realize that it’s not that far away. It’s just little techniques and the basics that these guys have that you have to work on to catch up since they’ve been playing since they were babies. But it made me realize that level isn’t that far away, but it takes a lot of work.”
In Ireland, MacLellan says, the rugby is different, but he’s still accumulating lots of high-level game time.
“I like the [Trinity] team, great guys. It’s another high level of rugby you can’t get in the States, just like New Zealand,” he said. “This summer, I realized between the amount of games I’ve been able to play at a high level, it feels like I’ve played two or three US seasons all combined into one summer.”
MacLellan is currently planning to return to Davenport in January and play in the spring Mid-South season. He’ll get his bachelor’s degree in the spring, but will likely play another year of rugby for the Panthers while earning his master’s.
Then, who knows, but he wants to play for the Eagles and he wants to make a run at a career in rugby.
“Right now I’m definitely shooting to make the US team, and obviously everybody wants to one day get a contract, and it’s just a matter of which opportunity comes first, hopefully, depending on how hard you work or your connections,” said MacLellan. “Right now, I’d say I’m working most towards trying to make the US team, but coming overseas I’ve been able to network with a lot of people and hopefully I can make those connections in the future as well.”