Aspiring rugby stars awarded prestigious John Eales Scholarship

Post date:
November 28, 2017

Bond University today announced the recipients of its prestigious John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarships for 2018 are Lachlan Connors of Brisbane and Maxwell Dowd of the Gold Coast.

The scholarship covers the full tuition of an undergraduate degree at Bond University on the Gold Coast for each recipient and a living bursary, and comes with the chance of a lifetime for the aspiring young rugby stars: one-on-one mentoring sessions with rugby legend John Eales.

This has been an amazing year for recipient Lachlan Connors, who just last week graduated from St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe.

In 2017, Lachlan was St Patrick’s College School Vice-Captain and First XV Rugby Captain, represented Queensland Schoolboys in the National Schoolboys Rugby Championships, was chosen in the Australian Schoolboys Rugby team, and recently received the Ian MacMillan trophy, awarded annually to the best Queensland Schoolboy player.

When not on the rugby field or excelling academically, Lachlan also represented St Patrick’s in volleyball, swimming and basketball, as well as volunteering in various community service programs. 

Lachlan won’t be the first member of his family to meet John Eales - his uncle, Mark Connors, is a former Wallaby and Queensland Reds player, who played alongside John in Australia’s 1999 World Cup victory in Wales.

Lachlan plans to study a Bachelor of Exercise & Sports Science at Bond University when he commences in January 2018.

“What appealed to me about the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship was having the chance to play rugby at an elite level and further my aspirations to play professionally, while at the same study,” Lachlan said.

“Being able to mix study and rugby is something a lot of people dream of doing, but not many get the chance to actually do it.”

Lachlan’s off-field aspirations are to become a physio or related sports science professional, where he can pursue his passion for the human body and helping people.

“I love being around people with the same mentality and passion for the game, which is one of the things I’m most looking forward to about Bond.

“I was also really impressed with the University’s high-class facilities and am very excited about moving to the Gold Coast,” he said.

Lachlan’s fellow recipient, Maxwell Dowd, was a keen rugby league and soccer player in primary school, and was not introduced to rugby until 2012, when he joined The Southport School (TSS) on a sporting scholarship. 

In 2015, Maxwell represented Queensland in Rugby League in the Under 16s State of Origin Team and he made the TSS 1st XV in 2015, 2016 (as Vice-Captain) and 2017 (as Captain). In addition to captaining the TSS 1st XV in 2017 and being named School Captain of Rugby, Maxwell held a number of key leadership positions at TSS, including Foundation Warden of the School, House Captain and Prefect.

This year Maxwell was also named in the Queensland Schoolboys U18 Rugby Team and captained the U18 Australian Schools Barbarians team.

“I was over the moon when I found out I’d been awarded the John Eales scholarship, as was mum and dad, and mum actually had a bit of a cry,” Maxwell said.

“They know how much work I’ve put in to my football and my study the past few years and they’re incredibly proud and happy – as am I.

“What really appealed to me about Bond University was the great level of support they provide their student athletes with, to help them develop as elite sportsmen and women, while at the same time excel at their studies,” Maxwell said.

“I know from my friends who come to Bond that it has a great atmosphere and culture, where you work hard but everyone is there for you and wanting you to succeed – including lecturers who know you by name, due to the awesome small class sizes.”

“I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and experience of University life, to playing good football as part of the Bond University Rugby Club, and to making the most of the incredible opportunity this scholarship provides.”

Maxwell is not just a talented footballer and athlete, but also an accomplished artist, and he plans to study a Bachelor of Architectural Studies at Bond University next year.

Maxwell’s sporting aspirations include playing for the Queensland Reds and ultimately, for the Wallabies. Outside of sport, he sees a degree in Architecture as an excellent asset to enable him to travel and work internationally.

Bond University’s Executive Director of Sport, Mr Garry Nucifora, said both students were worthy recipients of the scholarship and embodied the qualities Bond was looking for in its sport scholars.

"Lachlan and Maxwell are both exceptionally talented young rugby players, excellent scholars and have proven leadership skills and potential,” he said.

“Bond University Rugby has established a clear and structured pathway to take aspiring young rugby players from schoolboy through to professional rugby, nationally and internationally.

“Previous John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship recipients are proof of this pathway – with our current cohort playing a mix of Premier Rugby, National Championship Rugby (NRC), Super Rugby with the Queensland Reds and the Queensland and Australian Under 20s.”

“Our thanks must go to John Eales, for his ongoing commitment to mentoring our recipients and of course our Patron, Mr Terry Jackman – without these two gentlemen, this supreme educational opportunity would simply not exist.”

Mentor John Eales said he was looking forward to meeting Lachlan and Maxwell in person to congratulate them and share some advice from someone who was once in their shoes.

“Having been an amateur and then professional rugby player, I have a good idea of what they’ve got ahead of them, so hopefully my perspective and advice will be useful,” he said.

“I’m a big believer in education - not just at university but through lifelong learning. I’m sure both Maxwell and Lachlan will grasp the opportunity that’s been given to them with both hands and make the very best use of it – on and off the field.”

Patron of the Scholarship program, Bond University Trustee Member and prominent Queensland businessman, Mr Terry Jackman, said he was proud to continue his support of the scholarship in 2018.

“I am passionate about rugby and about education, and I believe Lachlan and Maxwell have the skills, leadership qualities and potential to be very successful, both on and off the field,” he said.  

“Bond’s high-calibre rugby coaches and support staff will ensure Lachlan and Maxwell develop the skills, contacts and opportunities they need to reach their goal of playing professional rugby, while the University will provide them with a world-class education and professional networks to equip them to fulfil their career ambitions off the field also.

“I look forward to welcoming Lachlan and Maxwell to campus and wish them every success.”

Applications for the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship will reopen on April 1, 2018.