The Chicago Hounds added former USA international John Cullen for the 2023 Major League Rugby season after he was brought into camp last week on a trial contract. The 32-year-old lock/No 8 (33 in May) is 6’5″ and 260 lbs.
John retired after the 2019 MLR season to concentrate on professional and family concerns and then played 400 minutes for the Utah Warriors in 2020. Since then, until his 2023 signing with the Chicago Hounds, he was a player-coach for Des Moines RFC.
During the 2019 season, John played 900 minutes in 14 matches, starting 11, and scored 3 tries. He carried the ball 81 times for 576 meters, made 104 tackles, and had 26 lineout takes with 2 steals. In 2018 he played 316 minutes in 7 matches, starting 4.
John is originally from La Mirada, California, and went to La Mirada High School, graduating in 2008. He then attended Fullerton Community College from 2008-2010 and played football. He then transferred to the University of Utah to continue playing football, and attended from 2010-2013, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.
While at Utah, he played left tackle and started 24 games in his two years playing football and was named to the All-Pac-12 Conference second team in 2011. He then tried to pursue professional football with the New York Jets and with the San Diego Chargers in 2012. Although he did make the 53-man roster, he was released toward the end of pre-season and went back to the University of Utah where he turned his attention to playing rugby under Coach Blake Burdette.
Cullen played No. 8 at Utah and after a strong performance was selected for the 2013 Collegiate All-American tour to New Zealand. After this tour, he was invited to the Eagles camp and was selected for the November 2013 European tour. Unfortunately, he did not play.
In 2014 that changed as he was again selected for the Eagles November tour and debuted against Romania. He has 4 caps, with his last coming in 2015. He is USA Eagle No. 457.
In 2014 Cullen joined the Seattle Saracens where he played in the team winning the Elite City 7s in June, attended an Eagles 7s high-performance camp in July, helped Seattle to win the USA Rugby National Club 7s, and went to London for the World Club 7s at Twickenham Stadium, where the team won the Shield. He also played with the Seattle Saracens 15s team and won the British Columbia Rugby Union Championship in 2014. John also coached while in Seattle for Atavus Rugby.
John then took a break from rugby and worked on his family farm in Montana, Turtle Creek Family Farm from June 2014 to Nov. 2015. He then enlisted in the Army National Guard as a paratrooper and became a Sergeant. He is stationed at Camp Williams in Bluffdale, Utah.
While in Utah, John has played for the Park City Haggis Rugby Club and this past year also for the Utah Selects. He also has been a member of the Army 7s team, playing in the 2017 Las Vegas Invitational and Rugbytown 7s. He also played with the Army 7s in 2018.
DJCoil Rugby articles by Doug Coil are also available on Facebook. Other Social Media sites to follow or subscribe to include Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for interviews.