Missing fingers no problem for American U-20s winger

Kingsley McGowan, left, runs around Tonga’s Kepueli Mafi as USA and Tonga play Monday, June 18, 2012 in the 2012 IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament at the Murray rugby park stadium. USA won 22-11. (Photo by Scott G Winterton)

Winger Kingsley McGowan been one the Junior All-Americans’ top scoring threats — he scored three tries against Canada in friendly before the Junior World Rugby Trophy — sporting shifty moves and blazing speed to go with his bright boots.

He excelled in his first year at St. Mary’s, despite being introduced to the game a age 16 in Texas.

“I’m picking it up slowly, but surely,” he said, adding that the JWRT play is much faster than the college game.

“It’s quicker decision making. In (college) you have time; you can get by with just athleticism. (Here) you have to know the game. You have to be ready for that certain change, say something goes wrong, you have to make that adjustment.”

He said that’s the ultimately the key to the game — certainly not worrying about the fact he is missing two fingers in each hand. It was something he was born with, the result of a congenital condition called amniotic band syndrome. McGowan said he doesn’t think about it and forgot about it until he was asked about it after the Americans’ tournament-opening win over Tonga.

The U.S. will take on Japan in the JWRT championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Murray Park.

For directions to the stadium go here. Tickets cost $5 at the door. A complete schedule and to watch it live, go here.