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Dolphin’s American Eagle Flying High

12th December 2014 By Munster Rugby

Dolphin’s American Eagle Flying High

Dolphin flanker John Quill may be only 24 but the Youghal-born USA Eagles international has already packed plenty of action into his short rugby career.

Dolphin flanker John Quill may be only 24 but the Youghal-born USA Eagles international has already packed plenty of action into his short rugby career.

10-cap Quill made his debut for the United States national team in 2012 and returned to Cork last week after making three further appearances for the Eagles in their November internationals against Romania, Tonga and Fiji.

The former Munster sub-academy player has spent a year stateside, won the English Championship with London Welsh, completed a degree in Personal Training and Sports Science and has played on and off for Dolphin since 2011.

But the big question is, how did the man from Youghal get involved with the USA rugby side?

“In 2012 I finished college and left the Munster academy set-up without a contract. It was a very strong year for back-rows – there were people like Peter O’Mahony and Tommy O’Donnell and the likes of them.

“I took a step back and moved to Boston. My mam is originally from New York so I had an American passport and went over there just take the foot off the gas for a little bit. Funnily enough once I got over there I got involved in the international set-up. I had been in touch with Eddie O’Sullivan before because he’s a Youghal man too and he was coaching over there.
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“Eddie finished up when I moved over and I initially got involved in the ‘A’ set-up and I went on a tour to Canada in 2012. That went well so I went into the November series that year and got my first three caps on that tour,” Quill explains.

Soon after making his US debut against Russia at Colwyn Bay, his path crossed with some former team-mates as the Eagles hosted Ireland in Houston, Texas. Ireland were captained that day by Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony, with Tommy O’Donnell making his Irish debut as the visitors narrowly prevailed on a 15-12 scoreline.

Quill says: “I was on the bench and I didn’t get a run-out which was a bit of a sickener at the time! It was still a good experience all the same. It would have been nice to get on the pitch with a few of the boys I would have grown up playing against.”

Despite that setback, Quill’s international career has continued unabated and he played in three of the four USA tests last month.

Unfortunately, the one game Quill missed was played at Chicago’s Soldier Field in front of over 60,000 supporters as the All Blacks came to town.

With the 2015 World Cup approaching, the former Ireland Schools international is firmly focused on securing a place in the Eagles squad.

They have been drawn in Pool B alongside South Africa, Scotland, Japan and Tonga. Quill believes his team-mates are improving with each passing match and is honoured to represent the USA.

“We will have a summer tour in July and then go straight into our pre-World Cup games. Every time we come together as a team we take a step in the right direction. A lot of the boys play domestically in the US and the structure there isn’t where it needs to be. So when you see lads coming in and stepping up to that grade and taking a step forward every time it’s great to see.

“When I have that jersey on I’m American. The least I can do is sing the national anthem even though I know I don’t sound very American when I’m singing it! It’s a real honour to put on the jersey.”

Youghal RFC is the club where it all began for Quill at the age of 6 before he joined Sunday’s Well whom he played senior rugby with while still in secondary school.

An unsuccessful season at UCC followed where he didn’t play once due to a serious neck injury.

Then came the move to current club Dolphin and a place in the Munster sub academy was secured by the talented back-row.

Although he was unable to earn a contract with the province, Quill’s year in the USA led to the beginning of his blossoming international career.

Last season, a move to London Irish was ruined by an illness but a determined Quill signed a short-term deal with London Welsh.

The well-travelled back-row scored two tries on his debut and played his part in an excellent end to the season for the club.

“It went very well at London Welsh and we ended up winning the Championship and getting promoted.

"Unfortunately I didn’t get a contract for this season. I was kind of left hanging by London Welsh a little bit to be honest. I was told there was a contract there that didn’t materialise once I came home to Ireland on my break which left me in a tough spot to say the least.

“Nevertheless, I came back here and Dolphin have always welcomed me back with open arms. I’ve since been working in Rochestown Park Hotel in the Leisure Centre so it’s good to be back here using my degree – I paid enough money for it!""

It takes two to take down Quill in last week's clash with Lansdowne CREDIT: Declan Forrest

“I’m working full-time in the gym there and doing a bit of personal training myself with a few clients. It’s a
change of pace from full-time rugby but I just have to keep going and concentrate on the World Cup. It’s only around the corner at this stage so I have to keep working hard behind closed doors.

“There are always opportunities at clubs coming into the post-Christmas period. People pick up injuries and rosters get stretched a little bit so there might be opportunities coming up after the new year. I’ll see what offers are on the table and see where I go from there. The main thing is to make sure the body’s right and I’m probably in the best condition I’ve ever been, touch wood.

“I might look to go overseas for the end of this season and get myself right for the run-in to the World Cup,” he added.

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