After a successful kickoff to the beginning of the Free Jacks’ 2023 preseason, Head Coach, Scott Mathie weighs in on the state of the team as they prepare for the MLR regular season ahead:
“Off the back of a successful 2022 campaign it has been exciting to get all the boys back for another season at our beloved headquarters in Quincy. Our change to the bottom level of the building has invigorated us all as the team now boasts a facility that rivals many a top rugby club. This upgrade has been accompanied by additional staff on both the conditioning and coaching front, namely George Petrakos and Will Webster, whose additions no doubt continue to add to the experience and growth we can offer the players.
We welcome back many familiar faces on both the playing and coaching front, retaining a large core of our group. This allows us to build on the work done last season and make some real progress on both the culture and rugby side of the program.
We continue to focus on being a team that best represents New England. We have recruited players we feel epitomize the grit and toughness of this place. We want our physicality to be something that resonates with the fans. We want to create as many ways to force opportunities, which we know makes for exciting viewing and we want to be able to sustain those efforts especially when our opposition tires.
We look forward to our first home game on St Patrick’s Day Weekend, where we can once again run out in front of our faithful supporters at Fort Quincy! Let’s ride!”
A newer face to the Free Jacks organization, Assistant Coach, Will Webster has already become accustomed to this new environment here with the Free Jacks:
“I’ve been incredibly impressed with all aspects of the Free Jacks organization since arriving a week ago (it’s felt a lot longer than that!). From conversations with Scott, Mike and TK before arriving, I was confident that I was joining a team with high expectations of winning the MLR and everything so far has backed this up- the attention to detail is excellent, the new facilities are top quality and we have recruited very well over the off season. Probably more impressively, the organization genuinely has a family feel to it. I felt incredibly welcome and looked after on arriving and those ‘first impressions’ count for a huge amount.
Whilst we’re only three days into the rugby, we’ve made a good start and are building solid foundations in all areas. In my area (the forwards), we’re looking to lay the foundations of our set piece game with the intention of being the most physical pack in the league and using our lineout as a try-scoring platform.
One of the highlights so far was the draft for the mini-teams that all players belong to. Whilst I’ve experienced a number of similar set-ups at other teams, this is by far the most competitive and established mini-team competition I’ve seen. The players really buy into it which creates a great level of rivalry and vying within the squad which will only make us stronger.
Whilst very focused on the next few weeks of pre-season, I’m incredibly excited for our first home game against DC in March. I’ve heard lots of fond stories about our Free Jacks fans and the noise that is made when the boys run out to ‘Dropkick Murphys’- Let’s Ride!”