One on One with Madison Hughes '15

by Luke McCann | 6/25/15 6:50pm

In his time away from the Dartmouth Rugby Football Club, Madison Hughes ’15 served as acting captain and played scrum half for the United States national team, the Men’s Eagles Sevens, in the HSBC World Series. For the first time, rugby sevens will be included in the Olympics with the United States officially qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games. Hughes has been chosen once again to captain the team for the first sevens showing at the Games. With Hughes on campus to finish his degree, The Dartmouth sat down to discuss rugby, college and his future plans.

What were the conditions of qualification?

MH: There were three ways we could qualify for the Olympics. The first way was on the series, our tournaments over the year and [to] come in the top four in the world. We came in sixth, so we just missed out on that. The second way was by winning the North American and Caribbean bid to the Olympics, which happened in a tournament down in North Carolina a few weeks ago. We beat Canada in the finals, and that’s how we earned our spot.

Are you going to be seeing the same competition that you saw during the HSBC Sevens World Series?

MH: Yeah, the series has the best teams in the world on it, so those are going to make up the bulk of the teams that qualify for the Olympics, and maybe one or two outside that, but those are the teams we’re going to see down the line.

Had you originally planned on taking your senior spring off and staying on the summer after graduation?

MH: No, my original plan was to come back for the spring and take classes. Unfortunately, I had to take a seminar for my major, and I couldn’t make that work with the tournaments I wanted to do. But when I found out I could take a seminar this summer and finish up, it made more sense to do it this way.

What will you do differently to prepare for this as opposed to your other international competitions?

MH: I think we’ll try and do a lot of the same things that have been working for us over the past six months to a year, just because you don’t want to get to far from what’s working. But at the same time, the Olympics will be a really, really big deal so we’ll be trying to work even harder to make sure that everything is in the right position so we can put ourselves in the right spot come game time.

What, if anything, does it mean to play in the first Olympic Rugby competition — to be the first American captain ever at the Games?

MH: Rugby was actually in the Olympics 92 years ago, so it was there back in the day, but I really think it’s a new Olympics and a new rugby nowadays. So I think it’s exciting to have rugby back in a world class spot, and it’s fantastic for us and fantastic for U.S. rugby in general. To be the captain of the team, it will just be an absolute privilege to captain them at the Olympics. We’re still a year out, but it will be an incredible thing to do.

You said as a junior here that reaching the Olympics was one of your goals as a player. You’re now captain the national team and are turning that goal into a reality. Where do you go from here?

MH: Well, now we’re looking at medals. Booking our spot in the Olympics was a fantastic first step, but I think now that we’ve done that we don’t want to just turn up at the Olympics to be participants. We really want to be contenders for medals and get the gold. That’s out aim now, and we’ll be doing everything we can between then and now to make it a reality.