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Rugby stars turn out for UQ benefit dinner

Image: L-R: Con Foley, Andy McIntyre, Dr Steve Cutler, Dr Mark Loane AM, James Horwill, Michael Lynagh AM, Dan Vickerman and (standing) Nathan Sharpe (panel moderator)

A UQ Rugby benefit dinner held in New York City was a gathering of the ‘who’s who’ of Australian and international rugby legends.

The annual benefit dinner raises funds for exceptional student athletes and strengthens ties between The University of Queensland and its USA-based alumni and friends.

High-profile former and current players Dr Steve Cutler, Con Foley, Michael Lynagh AM, Andy McIntyre, James Horwill, Dr Mark Loane AM, Nathan Sharpe and Dan Vickerman were on hand to support the event.

Faculty of Business, Economics and Law Acting Executive Dean Professor Andrew Griffiths said the calibre of panellists at the benefit dinner in 2016 illustrated UQ’s strong reputation in the international community.

“We’re very proud of how much the UQ Rugby Dinner has grown since its inception in 2014,” Professor Griffiths said.

“Thanks to our burgeoning relationship with the sporting community and our ties with alumni at home and in the USA, we’ve had no shortage of top speakers putting their hand up to attend the event every year.”

The high-profile group reflected on their careers and the importance of the sport in a lively panel discussion moderated by former Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe.

All eyes were on UQ alumni Dr Mark Loane, Michael Lynagh and Andy McIntyre who shared stories of their time at UQ as junior rugby players – noting that the UQ Rugby Club helped shape their professional careers.

Professor Griffiths said the cornerstone of the night was the announcement of the 2016 Mark Loane Medal recipient – Bronson Teles.

“The Mark Loane Medal recognises and rewards the recipient’s skills, ability and aptitude, both on and off the rugby field,” Professor Griffiths said.

“UQ alumnus and panellist Dr Loane is a former Australian Wallabies captain and is regarded as one of the finest rugby players ever to emerge from Queensland, not to mention being a distinguished ophthalmologist who has done much to improve eye health in Indigenous communities.

“To commemorate the achievements of one of our greatest sporting legends, UQ has commissioned a medal to be awarded annually to America’s most outstanding high school rugby athlete.”

Funds raised from the dinner will support 2016 recipient Bronson Teles as he travels to UQ in 2017 to play for the renowned UQ Rugby Club and participate in the UQ Rugby Academy.

The UQ Rugby Dinner is held in conjunction with the US-based The University of Queensland in America Foundation (TUQIA).

A portion of the event proceeds will benefit Play Rugby USA, a non-profit organisation designed to teach positive life skills to young people through rugby.

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