Two aspiring young rugby players, who also excel in their academic studies, have been announced the recipients of one of Australia's premier sports leadership programs, the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship.
Benjamin (Ben) Hunt, who attends St Ignatius’ College Riverview in Sydney and Douglas ‘Digger’ MacMillan, who attends Anglican Church Grammar School (‘Churchie’) in Brisbane have been selected from a large group of outstanding students and athletes.
The inaugural scholarship offers these two young men the opportunity to be personally mentored by John Eales while receiving an education on full scholarship at Bond University, one of Australia's leading educational institutions.
Ben who is originally from Bathurst plans to undertake a Bachelor of Health Sciences while Douglas, from Brisbane, plans to undertake a Bachelor of Commerce/Laws.
Douglas is currently with the Australian schoolboys rugby team touring the UK and Ireland.
Bond University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford said the University received overwhelming interest for the scholarship from both Australia and internationally, including Kenya, Asia and New Zealand.
"John Eales is the most highly-regarded Wallabies captain in the history of Australian rugby, so it is little wonder the scholarship received the volume and quality of applications it did," he said.
"John's experience on and off the field will prove invaluable to these two young men who both already show outstanding leadership qualities in addition to their outstanding sporting and educational prowess."
Professor Brailsford said the scholarship further reinforced Bond University’s strategy to tighten the ties between education and elite sports. “We believe our sports program here at Bond is unique in Australia and will help forge the business, sporting and community leaders of tomorrow.”
Mr Eales said he was excited about the next generation of rugby players and having the opportunity to mentor and guide two aspiring leaders.
"Both Ben and Douglas are very talented on the field, but what this program recognises is the importance of a high quality education and the development of leadership skills necessary for a career beyond sport," he said.
The full tuition scholarship, including living expenses, was open internationally to males under 26 years with experience at playing rugby at a representative level; with a high quality school or academic record; and who possessed leadership qualities.
The winners will commence studies in 2014 and spend their rugby season with the Bond University Breakers who compete in Brisbane Premier Rugby.
Bond University has a strong association with world-class rugby. In May of this year, Bond became the Official Education Partner of the Qantas Wallabies. Further, the University is a partner of the Gold Coast Sevens.
ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “On behalf of Australian Rugby, I’d like to congratulate Ben and Douglas on this achievement. I look forward to seeing both of them continue the strong values of our game and contribute to the Australian Rugby community on and off the field in the years ahead.”
Patron of the Scholarship program, Bond University Trustee Member and prominent Queensland businessman, Mr Terry Jackman, said he was proud to support the scholarship.
“I have always been passionate about rugby, education and leadership so this scholarship holds huge appeal for me,” he said. “Ben and Douglas are very worthy inaugural recipients.”
Scholarship recipient Ben Hunt said winning the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship would open the door to all kinds of opportunities he never thought possible.
“It offers me the perfect balance of sport, study and leadership and will give me the chance to live in the best place in Australia – the Gold Coast,” Ben said.
“I love the beach, I love playing rugby and I can’t wait to pursue my academic future at Bond,” he said.
“I’m really impressed by the University’s modern and forward-thinking attitudes to rugby and health sciences, and the recent investment and progress they’ve made in these areas; areas which are perfectly aligned to where I see my career in the future.”
Scholarship recipient Douglas MacMillan is currently touring with the Australian schoolboys team in the UK and Ireland.