Free Jacks Ride Forward in Historic First Match
- First Ever professional match for Rugby Club New England
- Long-established team Ontario Arrows takes the win 6 tries to 2
- A strong second half shows the team has a bright future
- Halifax – Boston historic connection on display throughout
Halifax, Canada – The Free Jacks took the field at Halifax’s Wanderers Grounds on a damp and windy afternoon against the Ontario Arrows for New England’s first match ever.
“Today was a proud day for our club,” said tour head coach Josh Smith. “It was always going to be a tough ask putting this together so quickly and traveling to Halifax to a face a quality side like Ontario. It took the first half to find our form, but I was very pleased with the response from the boys coming out of the shed in the 2nd half.”
“Most importantly we got a great look at a lot of local New England talent and can move forward with the team building phase.”
Early on, Ben Cima used his foot to pin the Arrows in their half early. However, a strong drive by Ontario saw the Arrows put the first points on the board in the 9th minute capitalizing on a missed defensive read by the Free Jacks. The Canadians playing with a strong wind continued to score three more tries over the next 20 minutes. Difficulty in the set piece, a stiff wind, and challenging handling conditions disrupted attempts by the Free Jacks from capitalizing near the Arrow’s try zone. Mystic River’s Diego Maquieira made some hard tackles for New England and was a dominant presence with the ball. Towards the end of the half, Ben Cima executed a perfect crossfield kick to Christian Adams for a try, but it was called back on offsides. A final Arrows score made it 0-33 going into the half.
The first part of the second half was a stalemate as both sides were unable to score thanks to back and forth kicks by both sides to keep the other away from the try zone. In the 20th minute, Connecticut native Anthony Parry pounded it in from close range to score the Free Jacks’ first ever try. The conversion by Cima was good to make it 7-33.
20-year-old Owen Hundt proved very capable at the senior professional level with a good showing on the day. Despite appearing to hurt his shoulder early on in the match, Hundt had some good runs along with fellow loose forward and match day captain, Matt Hughston. Northeastern alumnus Chris Frazier, who started the match at No 8, ended up having some of his best runs on the wing in the second half.
Cima kicked cross-field again midway through the second half, this time successfully, to Wolfhound Tadhg Leader who advanced deep into Arrows’ territory. Parry got his second try of the match when he once again bashed his way into the try zone. Cima converted again to make it 14-33.
Ontario responded late in the half off of a wonderful solo effort from Canadian Sevens international, Matt Mullins, for its lone score of the second half.
For the Free Jacks, the team is able to build on this historic first match, taking a lot of stock in the ability to win the gainline on attack and defense and respond resiliently to the challenging conditions in the second half.
With a lot of talent just out of college, players like AIC’s Jihad Khabir shined when given the opportunity to make plays. With over a year to develop leading up to the 2020 season, the Free Jacks will continue to identify and develop a group of players who will build the future of the club. The team will be announcing exciting upcoming engagements in the near future.
Tries: Parry (2)
Cons: Cima (2) Yellow cards: Luciano
NEW ENGLAND FREE JACKS
Starters: 1 Luke Schlotman (Life), 2 Diego Maquieira (Mystic), 3 Anthony Parry (NYAC), 4 Ronan McCusker (Mystic), 5 Jackson Thiebes (Mystic/Endicott), 6 Owen Hundt (Mystic), 7 Matt Hughston © (Charlotte), 8 Chris Frazier (Mystic) 9 Erik Thompson (Mystic), 10 Ben Cima (Rocky Gorge), 11 Christian Adams (Mystic), 12 Tadhg Leader (St Louis / Boston Irish Wolfhounds), 13 Peter Lupton (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), 14 Stephen Dazzo (Mystic), 15 Danny Collins (Boston Irish Wolfhounds)
Replacements: 16 Steven Hinshaw (Mystic), 17 Dave McKenna (Mystic), 18 Sean Moran (Boston Irish Wolfhounds), 19 Myles McQuone (Fairfield Yankees), 20 Thor LaFromboise (Mystic), 21 Jon Kokinda (Mystic), 22 Ian Luciano (Mystic), 23 Jihad Khabir (AIC/Mystic), 24 Connor Robinson (Boston College), 25 Devin Ibanez (Mystic), 26 Spike Armstrong (Mystic)