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Eagle Dream Begins at Home for McGowan

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Eagle Dream Begins at Home for McGowan

Michael Geib photo.

We don’t know if Kingsley McGowan will get a cap this weekend in the opening round of the Americas Rugby Championship, but it would be nice if he did.

McGowan, who starred for the High School All Americans, USA U20s, St. Mary’s, and now Trinity in Ireland, is from Houston and began his rugby journey at St. Thomas in Space City.

McGowan, who has been profiled a couple of times here on GoffRugbyReport (here about his comeback from injury, and here about his conversion to flyhalf at St. Mary’s), said making his first senior USA 15s assembly in his hometown is a special moment for him. 

“It is 100% a dream come true to even have the opportunity to earn my first cap in Houston,” said McGowan, who played just about every backline position for St. Mary’s but looks to be either a wing or outside center once he settles down. “Seven years ago I got my start playing rugby here, so to potentially get my first cap in my hometown would be unbelievable.”

McGowan, who was born with Amniotic Band Constriction, a condition that left him with only six fully-grown fingers, instead of ten, has a lot of work to do to break into this USA team, but with a new coach and a new World Cup cycle, this could the the ideal time to see what he has to offer.

“I’m hoping to show that I'm a quality player who can be effective in many different facets of the game,” McGowan told Goff Rugby Report. “My overall goal is to improve. Being in the high performance setup with access to the wealth of knowledge from the coaching staff is something you don't get consistently, so tapping into that on a daily basis is something I plan on doing to improve.”

After graduating from St. Mary’s, McGowan moved to Ireland to play with the Dublin University (Trinity) team. He has lined up with already-capped Tim Maupin, another St. Mary’s grad, and USA U20 player Conor Kearns. Trinity Head Coach Tony Smeeth used to coach the USA U19s and was an assistant coach for the senior Eagles, and has long been a friend to American rugby, finding places for several young athletes who went on to be Eagles. 

“I loved my time at Trinity,” enthused McGowan. “I met some really great people and genuinely loved being completely immersed in the Irish culture. The lads were all very welcoming and always made sure I was taken care of. I learned quite a bit on the defensive end at Trinity. A lot of technical items in terms of how to win the point of contact and things you can do to manipulate the point of contact. That new defensive awareness and spacial recognition is what I learned the most from Trinity which helped me a lot.”