AG’s Duo Earn Invitation To USA Eagle Player Pool
August 20, 2020 – (Austin, TX) The Austin Gilgronis are happy to congratulate 2020 captain Zinzan Elan-Puttick and stalwart prop Mason Pedersen on their recent addition to the USA Eagle player pool.
Pedersen was apprehensive about announcing that he had been added to the high-performance group. “For me, getting added to the player pool and included in the high-performance program is such an honor,” says Mason Pedersen. “But there’s obviously a ton of work to be done and so much uncertainty right now. In my mind, I’m still that same guy that’s gotten close, and I would never want to pretend that suddenly I’ve made it. It’s still, head down, work, and prove.” Anyone that knows Pedersen knows he loves a good banter. Although, when it comes to his dream; he saves his words.
Pedersen and Elan-Puttick train four days a week alongside fellow AG and capped Eagle Will Magie, to keep pace with the USA Eagle strength and conditioning program. Each player records their weights, times, and scores for USA S&C coach Huw Bevan and the Eagles’ staff to track their progress.
Elan-Puttick earned the Eagle invitation from Gary Gold just a couple months back and Pedersen’s invitation came this May. The duo’s first chance at an Eagle cap would have been on home soil at the Americas Rugby Championship this summer, although COVID-induced cancellation put the AG’s duo’s debut on hold.
“Playing international rugby has been my dream since as long as I can remember, if I have to wait a little longer, so be it; there’s a lot of people with worse problems right now,” says AG’s captain Zinzan Elan-Puttick. “Mason, Will, and I are pushing each other every day and that’s got my full attention.”
USA Rugby announced in February that the Eagles’ ARC match versus Chile would be played at Bold Stadium, the Austin Gilgronis home pitch. Which means, four AG’s could have potentially played in front of the Austin home crowd as Zinzan Elan-Puttick and Mason Pedersen join Will Magie (26 caps) in the USA player pool; while Marcelo Torrealba continues to battle for an opportunity to represent Chile in the ARC. While the dream debut scenario fizzled upon cancellation; both Pedersen and Elan-Puttick are resolute in their focus on their next opportunity.
“[Debuting at Bold Stadium] definitely would’ve been cool, but we haven’t thought about where we play our first game, we’re just chasing an opportunity to wear the jersey, hear the anthem, all that,” says Pedersen.
In 2016, the duo came to Austin to join the Huns Division 1 men’s club. Both men were immensely proud to be a part of the club’s first-ever Division 1 National Championship winning team. Following the club season, Pedersen and Elan-Puttick joined Austin Elite Rugby and were key starters in the first two seasons of Major League Rugby.
Both men overcame injury last offseason and made significant impacts with Austin Gilgronis through the five-match shortened season. Elan-Puttick was named team captain and Pedersen held a leadership position albeit only 23 years of age.
Mason Pedersen became the first of six Austin Gilgronis to earn First XV Player of the Week Honors in season three of Major League Rugby. In Las Vegas, Pedersen’s 76-minute performance was highlighted by a second-half try and huge hit on RUNY’s headline signing, Matthieu Bastareaud.
Elan-Puttick made the transition from his natural position, fullback, to flyhalf this season and led the AG’s attack. His heroic try in Las Vegas sparked a second-half comeback against RUNY.
This is neither man’s first invitation into the USA pathway. In 2013, ‘14 and ‘17, Zinzan Elan-Puttick was invited to Chula Vista to train with the USA 7s squad. In 2016, Mason Pedersen represented the United States at the under-20 level, went on the Collegiate All-American’s tour to Australia, and played for the USA Selects all in the same year.
The Austin Gilgronis wish the best of luck to both men as they train tirelessly this offseason in the hopes of representing the Huns, the AG’s, and the United States at the highest level!
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