Elite Rugby Scholar experience
Name – Matthew Conroy
College/University – St. Bonaventure University
College/University course – Health Science
Rugby position – Hooker/Flanker
What has been your favourite aspect of living and studying in the United States?
It’s been a great opportunity so far. I’ve really appreciated getting to live and experience a different way of life similar to home yet different so different. Getting to know new people and see new places all while having the opportunity to play rugby has been really great.
Describe your first month in the United States. Was it a culture shock? And if so, why?
It was initially a bit of a cultural shock. I had assumed it would be fairly similar to Scotland but small things here and there add up and it reminds you that you are in a different country. When I arrived it was in the midst of preseason so there weren’t many people on campus, which looking back was probably a good thing. I was nervous to move over here so having 1 on 1 time with the team really helped.
What is your current degree and what has been your favourite course so far? What courses do you intend to take in the future?
Thus far I’ve had to take a lot of general education subjects as I was a transfer but I’ve still really enjoyed them. Ethics was particularly interesting having to think about the reasoning and justification that people may use for actions that we don’t agree with.
What was the onboarding process like for you? How helpful was Brendan in finding your desired university?
Brendan was a huge help from the outset. He pushed me out to numerous colleges that had the degree of my choice and kept me in the loop with who was interested and keeping tabs of who had said what etc.
How would you describe U.S collegiate rugby compared to your home nation? Comment on the competitiveness/pace/physicality
I was pleasantly surprised upon arrival. Obviously, not many people over here have been playing as long as boys back home so the IQ isn’t as high but the intent and willingness to compete at a high level was evident from the start. The players aren’t afraid to express themselves and play with flare I was most surprised by the physicality which is on par with playing senior rugby back home or maybe even more so!
What would you say to someone that is potentially unsure of taking the leap and starting their ERS journey?
It’s a great opportunity. I would encourage anyone to take the risk and take part in the ERS journey. My mindset was if I don’t enjoy it I can always go home but that thought never crossed my mind once I got here!
What are your long-term plans? Do you intend to pursue a career in professional rugby or to pursue other avenues with your degree?
I would love to play professional rugby, but for now my focus is academia and enjoying the sport.
Do you have any hobbies outside of rugby? Do you have plans to travel the US during term/summer breaks?
I’ve already travelled a fair bit of the country in my first year. I’ve been to Texas, New York city, Atlanta and have the opportunity to leave for New Orleans at the end of the month which is exciting.
What has been your main highlight of your ERS experience so far?
My university won the NCR national championship in the fall so that experience is hard to beat!
How would you describe the American college campus experience?
The campus at SBU is considered small in terms of other American colleges but I like it, it’s a similar size to the university I was previously at in Scotland. Everything is within walking distance and you always see a familiar face.
Describe your average day in the life on your campus/day in the life on an Elite Rugby Scholar.
In the 15’s season we would often have a morning team lift to get the day started. After that I would get myself ready for my classes for the day. Once I’d finished those classes id start homework before training.
What are your top tips for anyone going through the selection process/selecting colleges?
I would say to keep an open mind, it’s definitely a different way of life but it’s a great opportunity to further your education while continuing to play rugby in a new country.
Interested in becoming an Elite Rugby Scholar? Please do not hesitate to send an enquiry!