IRANZ Graduate gets 2nd World Cup

Alan “AJ” MacGinty is an Irish-born professional rugby player, who represents the United States in international competition. He plays as a fly half for English Premiership team Sale Sharks.

AJ came to the IRANZ High Performance course in 2010, initially as a halfback. His position specific coach was ex-Wallaby George Gregan and by chance also on that course was ex-All Black Jon Preston who had played at the highest level as both a 9 and a 10. Something that would go to helping AJ later in his career.

“A really exciting prospect who has a lot of improvement in terms of his physical development to do. Good luck mate.
George Gregan Iranz Position Specific Coach June 2010 

“Alan was a real pleasure to work with and always tried to bring a good level of intensity to all our sessions. With a bit of gym work behind him to gain a bit more size and strength I believe he will go on to have a very successful rugby career.”
Dennis Brown Iranz Coach June 2010

Following his participation in the 20015 Rugby World Cup, AJ was signed by Connacht for the 2015-16 Pro12 season. This is where IRANZ Skills Coach Dave Ellis, who was with Connacht at the time, caught up with AJ again. Connacht head coach Pat Lam said the province had been following AJ since the Pacific Nations Cup earlier in the year. AJ made his domestic debut for Connacht appearing off the bench in their 33-19 win over Benetton Treviso on November 6, 2015. He made his European debut on 14 November 2015 in the first match of the   Challenge Cup, starting at fly-half and scoring nine points. AJ led Connacht to a 28-23 bonus point win over Edinburgh in March 2016 and “controlled matters expertly” to manage Connacht’s fifth consecutive win and maintain first place in the Pro12. He was pivotal in Connacht’s Pro12 final win securing the teams first ever silverware.

In May 2015 it was announced that AJ would join English Premiership side Sale Sharks when his deal with Connacht finished in the summer. He was signed as a replacement for outgoing England international Danny Cipriano.

New Jersey , United States – 10 June 2017; AJ MacGinty of USA during the international match between Ireland and USA at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, USA. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

AJ made his debut for the United States in July 2015 against Samoa during the Pacific Nations Cup. In the U.S. team’s last match of the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup against Canada, he scored all of the team’s points, including a last minute drop goal, to win the match 15-13. He was the U.S. team’s leading scorer throughout the 2015 Pacific Nations Cup, scoring 44 points in three matches. Following his performances in the Nations Cup, AJ was named in the American squad for the  2015 Rugby World Cup. He featured in three of the team’s four games, starting in each of his appearances and scoring 25 points.

Great to see IRANZ graduate AJ featuring again in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.