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The Aquilian

Declan Dolan: from freshman Stag to senior star

Declan Dolan carries the ball trucking through and opponent tackler. (Photo by Gonzaga Rugby)
By Jack Beall–

Gonzaga senior Declan Dolan is well known on campus for being one of the funniest students on campus. Often he can be found in the campus ministry office screaming “MS. FLOOD!” in his highest pitch voice.  He never fails to make another smile whether it be a teacher, friends or even a younger student. Dolan transferred from DeMatha after his freshman year. Since then, he has played rugby on the varsity purple team here at Gonzaga and quickly turned into a star. 

At the age of six years old, Dolan had his first experience on the rugby field, playing with an older family friend. The league he was playing in was an over 40s men’s league. He was allowed to play because people were convinced that he would just run around and chase behind the plays. This was not the case. Dolan chased the ball no matter where it went, but his day was sadly ruined when he fell and was accidentally cleated in the face, a blow that knocked him out.

It was not until the seventh grade when Dolan picked rugby up again, but this time it was much more serious. He began to play for both a club team and school team and he was beginning to fall in love with the sport; however, it was not until his sophomore year that it became his main sport. Dolan was an excellent football player, but after transferring, he decided to focus exclusively on rugby, because he thought it was more fun. He came to this decision when he realized that in football he would not be playing a position that gets to touch the ball. In rugby, he plays prop, which allows him to play the game with the ball in his hands.

Since he picked it up, Dolan was an excellent rugby player. As a freshman at DeMatha, he realized he was probably better than most everyone on the team, even the seniors. This was one of the reasons he came to Gonzaga; they took rugby much more seriously. However, Declan did not describe himself as very technically skilled at this point in his career. 

“I was good because I was a big, strong, fat, lineman that could smash people and was aggressive with and without the ball in his hands,” Dolan said.

Dolan said that it was not until COVID-19 struck that he felt he was growing into a very talented, disciplined player.

“I lost some weight, gained some muscle and gave more attention to the details of the game over the past year,”  Dolan said.

This certainly shaped him into the player he is now. Although he has accomplished a lot during his career including his captaincy of the Gonzaga team and participation in national championships, Dolan plans on a successful future in the game. He has committed to play at Penn State for the next four years and he also plays on the Washington, D.C. Old Glory academy team, which is the junior professional level.  

Dolan said that Gonzaga rugby has been a fantastic experience for him since he enrolled. 

“For me, it embodies the community and brotherhood that Gonzaga speaks so highly of. There is this team-first attitude that every individual player has that is really special to see,” Dolan said.

Certainly, he has given back to the team as much as it has given to him.

“He is the heart and soul of our team; he’s very important for setting the tone of the game,” said teammate Cole Wofford, senior.

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  • D

    Danielle FloodMay 17, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    I am going to miss the daily visits!!

  • P

    Pam ValeirasMay 16, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Great article! Congratulations, Declan! Enjoy Penn State!