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Matthew Edison poses at the Bury St. Edmunds rugby pitch. Edison was recently selected as a member of the United States under-19 national rugby squad.
Matthew Edison poses at the Bury St. Edmunds rugby pitch. Edison was recently selected as a member of the United States under-19 national rugby squad. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)
Matthew Edison poses at the Bury St. Edmunds rugby pitch. Edison was recently selected as a member of the United States under-19 national rugby squad.
Matthew Edison poses at the Bury St. Edmunds rugby pitch. Edison was recently selected as a member of the United States under-19 national rugby squad. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)
Matthew Edison reaches for the ball during a lineout.
Matthew Edison reaches for the ball during a lineout. (Courtesy of Mark Edison)

BURY ST. EDMUNDS — Matthew Edison has always played rugby for the love of the game. But now that he’s entered into an elite status of players, he’s beginning to widen his view.

“I’ve always loved rugby, but I never thought I could make a career out of it,” he said. “But now, I’m starting to think about all the possibilities.”

The 18-year-old Suffolk athlete was recently selected as a member of the U.S. under-19 national squad after a grueling weeklong tryout in suburban Chicago earlier this summer.

Edison, whose father is retired from the Air Force and lives in a village outside of this market town, is considered one of the top players on the Bury St. Edmunds under-19 squad, which captured the second tier British championship last season and is slated to kick off another campaign in September.

“His skill is that he can play with either the forwards or the backs,” said Bury St. Edmunds Rugby Union Football Club coach Richard Martin during a recent practice. “He’s very fit, is a good leader and is vocal with his teammates in the right way.”

At 6 feet, 4 inches and 210 pounds and able to run 100 meters in about 13 seconds, he’s also got the athletic assets coaches can’t teach.

“I ran the 400 meters in 59 seconds and the 1,500 meters in 5:40, but I know I can keep training and get even fitter,” Edison said.

Thus far, he’s enjoyed a remarkable career.

He led King Edward’s High School squad to three consecutive undefeated seasons and helped the Bury squad capture its most recent title. Then he failed to qualify for the British national under-19 squad, but was invited to compete for a spot on the American team.

“My father talked to some people in the States, and my old coach knew one of their coaches, so it all just sort of came together for me to go over there and try out,” he said.

His selection to the American national squad means he joins the team later this year for training camp before an Australian tour. He’s also got a shot to play in the Rugby World Cup, since he is currently listed as an alternate on the American national side.

“My goal now is to keep working my way up and to play in the World Cup for the Americans,” he said.

Mark Edison said his son showed a natural talent for rugby soon after hitting the pitch at 13 and hasn’t slowed down since.

“He’s worked very hard for this, and we’re supporting him every step of the way,” the former RAF Mildenhall airman said.

In between rugby practice, Edison plans to attend West Suffolk College this year to study construction and hopes to attend university to pursue a degree in sports medicine.

But for now, he’s focused on the pitch — and dreams of a World Cup appearance.

“It’s a very exciting team for me, so I’m going to work hard and make the best of it.”

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