The connection between the Aran Islands and the USA’s Rugby win over Scotland on Saturday last may not be immediately apparent.
That is until you realise the Eagle’s number three hails from Inis Mór – with Paul Mullen lining out as tighthead prop for the winning side.
Mullen, who was first introduced to the game at boarding school in Glenstal Abbey in Limerick, has been living stateside since 2011, but is no stranger to the rugby field closer to home – having played underage for both Munster and Ireland.
Mullen finished out his school days at the Kings Hospital in Dublin where he helped lead the rugby team to the Leinster Schools Senior League Final against Newbridge College in 2009.
At 26 years old, Mullen was added to the Houston SaberCats team in January and has previously played for the USA under 20s at the Junior World Cup in Georgia.
As part of the USA’s Summer Test Series, Mullen’s side took on Scotland in Houston – with the winning side marking up a one point victory of 30-29, a remarkable comeback from the Scots earlier 15 point lead.
An historic win, the team to overcome the Scots on Saturday was the first USA side to beat a tier one nation since the 1924 Olympic Games.
Mullen has previously said his introduction to rugby was a bit of a baptism of fire – having been 13 years old before gaining any experience with the oval ball.
“I was essentially thrown in at the deep end as I had no rugby background whatsoever. I really enjoyed playing rugby and I got selected for the Munster under 18, under 19 and under 20 representative teams.
“When I came to the USA, I got selected to play for the USA under 20 team where I got to represent the USA in the country of Georgia in the Junior World Rugby Trophy,” he writes.
Saturday was Paul’s second cap with the USA national team, having featured in the side that sailed home with a 62-13 victory over Russia in Denver on June 9.
The final test in the series is fixed for this Saturday (June 23) against the Canadian national team in Nova Scotia.