Schoolboys stars granted Bond scholarships

by Sam Phillips

A pair of Australian Schoolboys stars have been handed the chance of a lifetime in being granted Bond University's John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarships.

Lachlan Connors, of St Patrick's College, Shorncliffe, and Maxwell Dowd, of The Southport School, were announced today as the recipients of the prestigious scholarships for 2018.

It grants the pair full tuition for an undergraduate degree at Bond, a living bursary and one-on-one mentoring sessions with Wallabies legend, John Eales.

They will also, of course, feature for Bond during Queensland's Premier Rugby season.

The scholarships cap a remarkable year for the pair, who have found schoolboy rugby success despite traversing different paths.

Connors, the nephew of 1999 Rugby World Cup winner Mark Connors, starred for Queensland at No. 8 throughout the National Schoolboys Championship and subsequently, the Australian Schoolboys' clashes with Fiji and New Zealand.Connors and Dowd will play for Bond in 2018. Photo: Bond University MediaHe skippered the school's 1st XV through AIC Rugby this year and was also college vice-captain, graduating just last week.

He was recently awarded the Ian MacMillan trophy as Queensland's best schoolboy player and will take up a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at Bond next year.

"What appealed to me about the John Eales Rugby Excellence Scholarship was having the chance to play rugby at an elite level and further my aspirations to play professionally, while at the same study," Connors said.

"Being able to mix study and rugby is something a lot of people dream of doing, but not many get the chance to actually do it.

"I love being around people with the same mentality and passion for the game, which is one of the things I’m most looking forward to about Bond."

While pulling on Wallaby gold has always been a dream for Connors, Dowd only came to love the game of rugby when he arrived at TSS in 2012 on a sports scholarship.

He was a rugby league and soccer player during primary school but he quickly adapted, featuring for TSS' 1st XV in 2015, 2016 and skippering the GPS premiership winning side in 2017.

That led to Queensland Schools and Australian Barbarians honours, with the news that he had been awarded the scholarship triggering plenty of emotion for his family

"I was over the moon when I found out I’d been awarded the John Eales scholarship, as was mum and dad, and mum actually had a bit of a cry," Maxwell said.

"They know how much work I’ve put in to my football and my study the past few years and they’re incredibly proud and happy – as am I.

"I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and experience of University life, to playing good football as part of the Bond University Rugby Club, and to making the most of the incredible opportunity this scholarship provides."