The “Mustangs in Major League Rugby” series features each of our three Cal Poly Rugby Club alum currently in the MLR. The first article of this series visits the Mustang who most recently made the transition to the major league: Patrick Madden for the San Diego Legion.
Madden, a San Diego native, is the first Cal Poly student in history to be drafted to a professional rugby team before graduating.
The San Diego Legion drafted Madden as the 12th overall and final pick of the first round, one of three projected fly-halfs to be selected among the 24 players drafted.
Throughout his impressive career leading up to the draft, Madden has won multiple major rugby awards and has traveled the world playing for USA rugby since 2015.
To list a few of his accomplishments, Madden received the Mark Loane Medal for best high school rugby player of the year, he was a two-time winner of the Kevin Higgins memorial rugby scholarship, he was a Rudy Scholz Award finalist for the best collegiate rugby player of the year, and he won Player of the Tournament Las Vegas Invitational for U-18.
What was the process like entering into the MLR draft?
With the COVID-19 pandemic, things really went up into the air in terms of my rugby career- my school career. So a lot of decisions had to be made. And when I came back home, once I started quarantine with the family, the MLR announced the first inaugural Major League rugby draft.
I tossed it around, I talked to everyone: USA coaches, Cal Poly coaches, and my family, and it came down to the not-knowing what’s next in terms of my career and if I was going to have a senior season. I knew if anyone were to start playing rugby first, it would be at the professional level. So that’s kind of where the decision was founded.
So yeah, I threw my name in the draft. I adapted, and it seemed like the best decision at the time. And I’m lucky I did it. Because now I get to represent at a professional level in San Diego. So playing for a home crowd that I grew up in, it means a lot.
How has it been adjusting to the major league after Cal Poly?
Adjusting to a professional athlete lifestyle was really like adjusting to any new job. From the paperwork, to the new hours and schedule, meeting new people, it all came fast, but I feel like I’m starting to find my groove.
I went from being a college student who I feel are notoriously known for our bad sleeping schedules and lack of good food, to having mandatory naps and eating close to 5000 calories a day.
How do you feel Cal Poly rugby helped prepare you for the major league?
I would say that Cal Poly rugby prepared me the most on the mental side of the game. I’ve always been a player that took the game and my play very seriously, but my time at Poly allowed me to learn new and effective ways to approach things.
Coach James and the boys, they really helped me diversify my game plan and loosen up a bit- that was huge for my overall success on and off the pitch.
How are you guys adjusting to COVID-19 regulations?
Obviously nothing has been normal during these times, but the motto we’ve all been living by is “adapt and overcome.” We know that the team who adapts the best this season will be the one hoisting up the MLR Shield.
During our offseason, we’ve trained only in small groups split by positions. I think that’s what I’m most excited about, it’s to finally get around the rest of the lads and really train together. With our move to Las Vegas for the 2021 season, it will be nice to be in a bubble with all the boys which will give us the best opportunity to succeed this season.
For more on Madden and the upcoming San Diego Legion season you can visit sdlegion.com.