BOSTON – August 20, 2020 – The New England Free Jacks are thrilled to welcome back surefire scrum-half John Poland through the 2023 season. The energetic and skilled Corkonian returns to New England off the heels of a standout debut season. As the second leading Major League Rugby try scorer in the abbreviated 2020 season, Poland fashioned the MLR Try of the Week in round four with a picturesque chip and chase against the Seattle Seawolves, and was named in the MLR Team of the Week in round five after a superb showing and a brace of tries against New Orleans Gold.
“I am really excited to get back to Boston for the 2021 season,” quipped Poland. “ I can’t wait to get back on the pitch and meet all of the new lads. Last year was a great experience, getting to see so much of the country and meet teammates from all over the world who became great friends.”
“Although gutting to not get a chance to play a home game at Union Point Stadium in front of a full house of Free Jacks supporters, I look forward to continuing to grow the organization in anticipation of that first home match,” said Poland.
“JP has been a fantastic addition to the organization,” commented Performance Manager, Tom Kindley. “He holds a well-rounded, campaign tested skill-set, including his ability to kick off both feet, and is able to turn the game on its head in a heartbeat through his ability to read play and inject lightning quick tempo on command.”
A native of Ballinora, Cork, Poland began his rugby career at the age of five with his local club, Sundays Well RFC, where his father had previously played and coached, before moving to Presentation Brothers College, where he served as captain for the team’s Munster Senior Cup Campaign.
In 2015, Poland began playing for Cork Constitution in Ireland’s Division Club Championship. Poland’s tenure with Cork Constitution was successful, winning the 2016-2017 All Ireland Division 1A Championship, All-Ireland Under-20’s League, and back-to-back championships in the Munster Senior Cup. During this period, John played for the Ireland Under-19s and Under-20s, the latter of which in the 2016 Six Nations Championship where he earned Man of the Match honors against Wales.
That same year Poland joined Munster’s Professional Academy, making his debut for Munster A in the 2015-16 British Irish Cup before winning the same tournament the following year. In February 2018, Poland made his professional debut for Munster, coming off the bench in a PRO14 match against Zebre Rugby.
In 2017, Poland began his studies at University College Cork, where he won the 2017-2018 All Ireland Division 1B Championship. Poland graduated from UCC in October 2019, with a degree in finance, while maintaining his commitment to a burgeoning rugby career.
Poland was a standout player for the Free Jacks during the lockdown-shortened 2020 Season. Starting all five Free Jacks’ matches, Poland led the team in kicking at 878 meters, a mark of the young scrum-half’s box-kicking and field management talents. A constant attacking threat, Poland carried 23 times for 184 meters and was second-equal try scorer in the league with four tries from the five matches during the inaugural, abbreviated season.
A fan favorite with the creativity and ability to set the field alight at any moment, Poland will continue to play an integral role in the Free Jacks camp for years to come.
“Most importantly, JP’s calm and mature demeanor has been fantastic as we continue to grow as an organization, as well as helping younger players as they learn to become true professionals,” said Kindley.
Join John and the Free Jacks for the next virtual meet and greet, “News & Brews,” on Thursday, September 10th. Grab a Free Jacks IPA by Baxter and join the virtual gathering and get to know the newest Free Jacks and the returning players. RSVP using the link here: https://www.freejacks.com/news-and-brews/.
About The 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 www.FreeJacks.com