Free Jacks Fall Short To DC in Thrilling Home Opener

Elsa Edgar

QUINCY, MA – March 9, 2024 –

The scene was set as the rematch of the Eastern Conference Championship took place in Quincy on Saturday with the New England Free Jacks playing rivals Old Glory DC. After a tough match, the Free Jacks came up short by just one point, 35-34. It was a thrilling match with DC earning the walk-off win. 

With the Free Jacks unveiling their championship banner Saturday at their home opener, the club went toe-to-toe with an Old Glory team who knew they needed to step up in front of a boisterous Fort crowd. The match went down to the final play.

The Free Jacks made a few changes to the starting lineup after a dominating performance last week against Anthem RC. The Free Jacks started fast, and it was one of Coach Scott Mathies’ changes who scored first. 

The Free Jacks dominated the first twenty minutes of the first half with a try from wing Paula Balekana putting them on the board, followed by a try from fly-half Reece MacDonald. DC fought back with a try scored by Martín Vaca. Vaca scored a second try shortly after. The Free Jacks scored the last try of the half by hooker Andrew Quattrin. Jayson Potroz earned the team a total of nine points with three conversions and one penalty kick. The defending champs carried a 24-14 lead going into halftime. 

After the half, the Free Jacks immediately added five to their score with a try from utility back Mitch Wilson. With 20 minutes left in the match, Free Jacks Cole Keith was given a yellow card which was a pivotal moment for the Free Jacks to show their competitiveness playing with only 14 men. 

While DC fought back with one try from Jason Robertson, the Free Jacks continued to push forward with a try from center Ben Lesage upping their lead to 34-21. DC fought tooth and nail the rest of the match scoring two tries – one each from Vaca and William Talataina who scored a game-tightening try followed by a game-winning conversion by Roberson at full time. In the second half, DC outscored New England 21-10. 

After the match, General Manager Thomas Kindley stated “We talked about early in the season other teams will bring an extra five percent to beat the defending champs. We know we will have to be a lot better if we want to win rugby games.”

Captain Josh Larsen added, “It is a tough one to swallow. I think every team is coming for us. We just got to get back to the things we do well, and we got to play the whole 80 minutes.”

Looking ahead to next week, the Free Jacks seek their first home win against NOLA Gold, who bested Old Glory DC in Round 1.

About New England Free Jacks: The Free Jacks are an aspiring and innovative live events, media, and consumer products organization. The core brand in the portfolio is The New England Free Jacks, the humble hard-working free-spirited professional rugby team competing in the emergent and exhilarating Major League Rugby (MLR), the premier North American professional rugby competition. For more information, please visit https://freejacks.com/.

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