Waikato law graduate Mungo Mason’s average day is all about rugby, and he’s taken the rugby skills he learned in New Zealand around the world.
Right now the former University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary scholar is playing Major League Rugby in the USA for Old Glory DC. The flanker’s day begins early with indoor training, followed by leadership meetings, unit training, gym sessions, and full-team training in the afternoon. Then it’s recovery and home for dinner, maybe explore the city or catch a movie.
It’s a full-on life Mungo’s used to. He cut his rugby teeth at Tauranga Boys’ College and continued playing the game while studying law and international management at Waikato. He made several rep teams and the Chiefs development squad before the lure of combining travel and sport became too much of an attraction.
He’s played in Scotland for Scotland 7s, the Warringah Rats in Australia, and for the San Diego Legion and Old Glory in the US. “I’m incredibly pleased with the path I’ve taken. I’ve lived in four countries, traveled extensively, made a lot of lifelong mates and played some great rugby. Right now I’m living in Arlington and from my roof I can look over the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. It’s a beautiful, buzzing place.”
Mungo says Waikato prepared him well for his current career and for life after full-time rugby. “The Hillary scholarship allowed me to gain a concrete grasp on what ambition and success looked like and the work required to achieve my goals. Pursuing your goals and personal development needs a good plan and passion for the course you set yourself.”
The scholarship surrounds you with like-minded achievement-oriented individuals, he says. “So you’re swept along the ride of going out and crafting the future you’d like for yourself. Sporting-wise Waikato had a real emphasis on betterment and high performance, so again, you’re surrounded by people who want to achieve.”
During the final year of his Waikato degree, Mungo took up a student exchange and spent a semester at Chicago-Kent College of Law. “I’d always wanted to do an exchange and Waikato has some good partnerships with universities around the world. I was curious to find out more about Chicago and my Waikato grades were good enough for me to be accepted into Chicago-Kent.”
It’s an experience he’d recommend to anyone with a can-do attitude. “In the US, law is a postgraduate degree, so my peers were all a little bit older than me at Chicago. But I’d already had three years of law study, so I often had the jump on them in terms of practical knowledge and application. But whatever you study, the overseas exchange is definitely worthwhile.”
Covid-19 meant Mungo’s 2020 rugby season was interrupted by Covid and he spent lockdown in Sydney. Now he’s back in DC he and his teammates are very Covid-cautious. “We’ve got multiple protocols and policies in place to keep everyone safe and minimise risk. We’re all fully vaccinated too.”
Mungo’s certain he’ll return to law once his full-time playing days are over. He recently signed up for a Master of Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford in the UK and will start there in September. “It’ll partner my law degree for a post-rugby career in sustainability, climate action and net-zero carbon futures, which’ll have application in New Zealand and abroad.”
Meanwhile he’s enjoying life in Washington DC and the way the crowd enjoys its rugby. “We’ve got a fantastic blend of different rugby styles. It’s fast paced with an emphasis on attack and with freedom to give players opportunities to be creative and try different moves or plays. The fans and crowds love it and get involved in a big way, and we feed off their enthusiasm.”