Free Jacks Community and Academy Programs Achieve Major Milestones

by | May 31, 2024 | Blog, Featured News, News | 0 comments

A CELEBRATION OF YOUTH RUGBY: Free Jacks Community and Academy Programs Achieve Major Milestones

As the 2024 season progresses, the New England Free Jacks have made significant strides in both community engagement and youth player development through their innovative Academy and Community programs. To celebrate these important community milestones the 6th grade class at Broad Meadows Middle School, Quincy, MA have illustrated the Free Jacks starting roster ahead of the June 2 Match against Dallas Jackals.

standout community and academy achievements from the past 18 months:

Expanding Rugby’s Reach in Schools

The Free Jacks’ “Rugby-in-a-Bag” initiative has successfully introduced the sport to over 6,336 students across New England. This ambitious program has provided essential rugby equipment to 49 schools and trained 53 physical education teachers, ensuring that rugby education is both comprehensive and sustainable. The initiative highlights the Free Jacks’ commitment to growing the sport from the grassroots level, fostering a new generation of rugby enthusiasts.

 

Community Rugby Thrives at Fort Quincy

The spirit of rugby is alive and well at Fort Quincy, where over 1,100 community rugby players have participated in curtain raisers for Free Jacks matches this season. These pre-game events offer local players the unique opportunity to showcase their skills on a professional stage, enhancing their experience and deepening their connection to the sport.

 

Doubling Down on Youth Programs

In a testament to their dedication to youth development, the Free Jacks have successfully doubled the number of YMCA and town recreation rugby programs each of the last two years. By expanding these programs, the Free Jacks are ensuring that more young athletes have access to rugby, promoting physical activity, teamwork, and community spirit.

 

Image featuring: Ben LeSage at the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester

Pioneering Inclusion in Rugby

The Free Jacks have launched the first-ever inclusion rugby program in New England, partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester. This groundbreaking initiative is designed to make rugby accessible to all children, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities, reinforcing the club’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity in sports.

 

Making History Internationally

The Free Jacks Academy made headlines this May as the first Major League Rugby (MLR) Academy to compete overseas, with a historic match in Ulster. This international experience is invaluable for the young athletes, providing them with exposure to different playing styles and cultures, and enhancing their development on and off the field.

 

Doubling Down on Youth Programs

A leader in supporting women’s rugby, the Free Jacks are the first MLR organization to establish and support girls’ academy programs at both the U18 and U23 levels. This initiative ensures that young female athletes have a clear pathway to elite rugby, reflecting the Free Jacks’ commitment to gender equity in sports.
Additionally, following the successful hosting of the USA vs. Canada Women’s U23 competition at Fort Quincy last year, the Free Jacks will welcome the USA U23 Women’s All-Star championship in June. This event underscores the Free Jacks’ role in promoting women’s rugby at the highest levels.

Image featuring: Free Jacks Academy team, the New England Independents in Ulster Northern Ireland

Developing Future Stars

The Free Jacks Academy’s success is evident, with 19 athletes graduating to MLR teams. This achievement underscores the Academy’s effectiveness in developing talented players ready to compete at the professional level, securing the future of rugby in New England and beyond.

Through these initiatives, the New England Free Jacks are not only growing the sport of rugby but also fostering a sense of community and providing valuable opportunities for athletes of all ages and abilities. The club’s commitment to development, inclusivity, and excellence continues to set a high standard in the rugby world.

 

Why community, academy and youth rugby matters 

 

The Free Jacks continue to be dedicated to youth rugby and look forward to continuing their efforts to increase participation in rugby across New England and the USA.

“We’re a community first organization” said Thomas Grant, Manager of Community and Academy. “The Free Jacks have always focused on growing rugby within our community, especially where youth participation and development is concerned” – he added.

 

“We are dedicated to growing and evolving ‘grassroots pathways’ across New England for kids at all levels. Whether that be developing talent through our academy system who progress to the International level, or providing inclusive participation opportunities for children, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities.” – Thomas Grant, Manager of Community and Academy

This community focused attitude is supported across the entire organization, reflects Tom Kindley General Manager,

“We’re really proud of the community and academy initiatives that Thomas has been able to drive over the past couple of seasons at an impressive rate.

His efforts have provided us with a range of programs and settings for our players to go out and make a difference, working with children and adults of all ages and abilities. These interactions provide vital connection points, making our players accessible and creating more fans of the sport, and team along the way.”Tom Kindley General Manager,

Image featuring: The 2023 Flag Rugby Champioship at Fort Quincy

upcoming academy and community events

This Sunday (June 2nd) the Free Jacks will host the Dallas Jackals at the Camp Free Jack festival. The Academy spotlight event will feature the Free Jacks 2nd annual Flag Rugby Championship open to both boys and girls ages 5 – 18.

To learn more about getting yourself or your children involved in community and academy rugby explore our upcoming events here.

Camp Free Jack festival kicks off at 10am. Before the Free Jacks match, prepare to party it up like it’s the last day of summer camp with performances by The Great Escape and Booty Vortex at the Camp Free Jack festival! And make sure to try some refreshing sparkling apple ciders upon your arrival at How’d You Like Them Apples – Cider & Seltzer Fest!

Gates open at 10am, Kick-off starts at 2 p.m. so get to Fort Quincy early to enjoy the full day of festivities. Buy your tickets here! The match will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston and The Rugby Network.

For more opportunities to engage with the Free Jacks community, stay updated on future Free Jacks matches, festivals, and announcements through the Free Jacks’ news page: www.freejacks.com/news

Written By:

Oliver Gilpin

Director of Brand and Creative @ New England Free Jacks

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