Long-Term Build-up to 2020 Starts Tomorrow for New England’s 1st Professional Rugby Team
Boston, MA – The New England Free Jacks are riding north to Halifax, Canada, to face off against the Ontario Arrows in their first ever match on Saturday at 2:00 PM ET at Halifax’s Wanderers Grounds.
The Free Jacks’ vision stoutly centers around growing rugby in New England and helping the USA National Teams continue to mature into a world rugby power. This effort is reflected in the first team of riders for the Halifax match, most of whom are native New Englanders. In fact, 24 of the 26 players on the roster have ties to the region whether it be through their hometown, high school, college, and / or club. Virtually the entire squad is USA national team eligible.
Two-time national champion coach and Boston local, Josh Smith, serves as the head coach for this Halifax assembly and training week and will be aided by All-American and Dartmouth head coach, James Willocks, as technical advisor.
“I am tremendously excited and humbled for this opportunity to work with the Free Jacks and Coach Willocks,” said Smith. “The New England region has always been loaded with club and college talent—it is now time to bring all that talent together to establish a solid local base and culture for the Free Jacks to build off. The decision to come into the MLR competition in 2020 was a wise one, as this allows us to build properly for the long-term and work very hard to try and take our place amongst the other Championship Franchises in the city.”
Many of the first riders for this weekend have affiliations with USA Rugby national champions Mystic River or long-time local power the Boston Irish Wolfhounds. With this exhibition match occurring in the middle of the New England (NERFU) men’s club season, many players from other strong New England clubs have been unable to join in this weekend’s ride. In the coming weeks as the NERFU season winds down there will be opportunities for local players and transfer athletes to join the Free Jacks nascent talent identification and development process.
There is also plenty of college diversity from New England with multiple players having graduated from AIC, Dartmouth, UMass, Northeastern, Plymouth State amongst others.
Tadhg Leader is a welcome return to New England. A former Boston Irish Wolfhound, Leader has experience playing for the San Diego Legion in Major League Rugby, Connacht in the British & Irish Cup, as well as stints coaching various clubs. Joining Leader are MLR veterans Diego Maquieira, Myles McQuone, and Anthony Parry, along with national team capped flyhalf Ben Cima, USA Sevens Falcons Chris Frazier and Matt Hughston (who will serve as match day captain) to add valuable experience in trying conditions against a formidable Ontario Arrows outfit.
For tickets: https://t.co/OrLT2lBD0K
Live stream of the match: https://www.facebook.com/NEFreeJacks
More about MLR: MLR is a professional rugby league that launched its inaugural season in April 2018. It’s an initiative of the American rugby community, in partnership with private investors, who believe that American rugby can thrive at the highest levels: as a commercial enterprise; as an influential player on the international scene; and as a participation sport at the youth and senior level. MLR will be the pinnacle of the American rugby and provide a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes.
New England Free Jacks Roster
- Luke Schlotman | Life | USA
- Diego Maquieira | Mystic River | USA
- Anthony Parry | NYAC | USA
- Ronan McCusker | Mystic River | USA/Ireland
- Jackson Thiebes | Mystic River | USA
- Owen Hundt | Mystic River | USA
- Matt Hughston (C) | Charlotte | USA
- Chris Frazier | Mystic River | USA
- Erik Thompson | Mystic River | USA
- Ben Cima | Rocky Gorge | USA
- Christian Adams | Mystic River | USA
- Tadhg Leader (VC) | St. Louis Royals | USA/Ireland
- Peter Lupton | Boston Irish Wolfhounds | USA/England
- Steve Dazzo | Mystic River | USA
- Danny Collins | Boston Irish Wolfhounds | USA
- Stephen Hinshaw | Mystic River | USA
- David McKenna | Mystic River | USA
- Sean Moran | Boston Irish Wolfhounds | USA
- Myles McQuone | Fairfield Yankees | USA
- Thor Lafromboise | Mystic River | USA
- Jon Kokinda | Mystic River | USA
- Ian Luciano | Mystic River | USA
- Jihad Khabir | Mystic River | USA
- Devin Ibanez | Mystic River | USA
- Connor Robinson | Boston College | USA
- Michael Armstrong | Mystic River | USA
New England Free Jacks Staff
- Head Coach: Josh Smith
- Technical Advisor: James Willocks
- Assistant Coach: Kareem Afifi
- Physical Therapist: Brian Davis
- Operations: Owen Scannell
- Manager: Ben Nathan
- Media: Andrew Park