GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

How Miles Bell Got to MLR Rising

irish rugby tours

How Miles Bell Got to MLR Rising

Miles Bell makes a tackle for Michigan State.

While the vast majority of players at the MLR Rising college scouting camp start playing rugby in high school or before and are playing in D1A,  NCR D1, or top Canadian sides, but there are some backgrounds that are a little different.

Eight players come from programs outside that list above: Chris Jensvold and Parker Anderson from D1AA Louisville, Jaxon Stokely from D1AA SHSU, Brendan Bennett from UT San Antonio in D1A, Elijah Thomas from St. Thomas in D1AA, Ray Santiago from D2 team RPI, and small college players Joseph O’Brien (St. John’s, Minnesota) and Michael Sanderson (Elon).

But there are also players with a slightly different path to the game. Many picked up the sport as freshmen in college, but those at MLR Rising who did that are in their fourth or fifth year.

Except Miles Bell.

A flanker at Michigan State Bell tracks as a prop, but he’s only been playing for a year, with a little bit of 7s and one 15-a-side season under his belt.

“I didn’t play rugby in high school but I wrestled, played football, and played lacrosse,” Bell told GRR. “All of those sports bring their own little bits to what I am learning about rugby. Lacrosse and football are good for understanding rugby systemically and helps you know your way around the field, reading the field and scanning. Wrestling brings a different physicality and a different mindset—when you play a sport that involves you and only you that’s different and you have to draw on your individual will.”

Bell matriculated to Michigan State and looked at walking-on with the football team but as we was working on that he saw a poster for the rugby team. Bell, if you can’t glean from the way he talks, is a pretty analytical guy. He is pre-med and has a scientific mindset so instead of just going out to a practice, he started watching videos. Two months … TWO MONTHS … of watching YouTube videos of rugby before he went out to a practice.

This fits right in with how Miles Bell sees the world—do your research first.

Then he started playing games, as many games as possible. He practiced with a local club in Michigan (he’s from East Lansing) when the college season was over. And then Head Coach Jim Rogers saw something in him and put him in the flanker position. Pretty soon it was clear that with his athletic background, he was a prop. Within a couple of months he was turning heads.

With prop being a key position of need within the MLR draft environment—there are a lot of good props in college rugby, but players with the body profile and ability to scrum and maul at a professional level are more rare. Bell was called up to the USA U20 camp and he’s on the larger U20 roster. But with the MLR looking for props who can handle the maelstrom, and even though Bell not yet ready for the draft, he was called up to the MLR Rising camp.

“I’ve only played 13 or 14 games total,” Bell said. “I guess I am coming in with a little trepidation. But I am honored and I thank my teammates for helping me learn the sport fast. My plan for the camp is to stick to what I know, be a sponge, and just try my best.” 

Every player at MLR Rising has a story. This is Miles Bell’s story (briefly), but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

We’ll see him again.