Free Jacks Secure Talented American Tight Five Prospects
Kaleb Geiger and Jackson Thiebes Strengthen New England
Quincy, MA (December 20, 2023) – Today, the New England Free Jacks, 2023 Major League Rugby champions, announce the signings of two key USA national team prospects in tighthead prop Kaleb Geiger, formerly of the New York Ironworkers, and lock Jackson Thiebes, who returns to the Free Jacks after pursuing off-field work commitments the last couple of seasons.
Last week, New England drafted 27 year-old tighthead prop Kaleb Geiger in the first round of the Major League Rugby dispersal draft which served to allocate the player rights of the recently disbanded Toronto and New York teams. Today, the New England Free Jacks are excited to confirm Kaleb’s signing.
“I am very blessed for the opportunity to be a Free Jack and continue to grow as a rugby player. My family and I are excited about this next chapter,” commented Kaleb Geiger.
A two-sport athlete at Concordia University, Nebraska, the 27-year-old played football and baseball before being attracted to rugby in 2021 via the Colorado crossover rugby program, the American Raptors in Colorado.
The 6’1”, 255 lb prop signed for Rugby New York late in the 2021 season, where he quickly became an integral part of the side. Geiger played in 17 games and scored 5 tries during New York’s championship season in 2022. As injuries took their toll during the 2023 season, Geiger transitioned from hooker to tighthead prop and solidified himself as one of the best tighthead props in the nation. Dominant in open field play, Geiger carried 78 times for 541 meters and made 156 tackles, 9 dominant in 2023.
Geiger’s strong performances for New York caught the eye of US Eagles selectors who picked him for the Summer 2023 European Tour side alongside Free Jack Mitch Wilson. Geiger made his international debut for the Eagles August 12th against Portugal starting at tighthead prop.
“We are very excited to welcome Eagles prop Kaleb to New England. He has shown incredible promise in his short career and we can’t wait to continue his growth here at the Free Jacks,” noted Free Jacks head coach, Scott Mathie.”Kaleb has outstanding athletic ability and shows real dynamism with ball in hand. He is an aggressive defender who will continue to add to our depth of dominant tacklers at the club. We look forward to welcoming him and his family to his new home in Quincy!”
Joining Kaleb in the engine room, Free Jack #5, 6’6” lock Jackson Thiebes emerges from a two year retirement to return to the New England Free Jacks.
“I am incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity to be playing rugby again as a New England Free Jack. Thanks to the club for offering me a chance to return to do what I love, and to my wife and family for the strength and support to take the opportunity,” said Thiebes on returning to play in the red, white, and blue.
The now 29 year old won the Free Jacks ‘breakthrough player’ award during the 2021 MLR season where he started in all 16 matches. Jackson carried 100 times for 567 meters and made a monster 197 tackles during an excellent first full MLR season. His insatiable work rate and lineout expertise caught the attention of US National Team selectors in 2021, where he was selected to the wider US Eagles squad.
Born in Portland, Oregon, and raised in Kalispell, Montana, Jackson spent his high school days playing rugby and football. Jackson would go on to play American Football at the University of Montana from 2013 – 2017 where he became a third-team all-conference offensive tackle.
Jackson has played 19 MLR games with the Free Jacks to date, and appeared in all 8 of the Free Jacks games during the 2018-19 exhibition campaign. The talented 2nd row will be aiming to return where he left off, and push into the US Eagles player pool.
“We are really pleased to welcome Jackson back to New England,” saidMathie. “He has been on our radar since his departure in 2021 and we look forward to transitioning him back into the game he loves. He is a mobile and extremely hardworking American lock who gives us another gifted option at lineout time. He has a tough and competitive mindset which we value highly here at the Free Jacks.”
The Major League Rugby season will kick off in March 2024, purchase tickets now to catch the home opener on Saturday, March 9, in Quincy, MA.
About the New England Free Jacks
The Free Jacks are greater Boston’s explosive and excitable professional rugby team competing in Major League Rugby (MLR), the premier North American professional competition, representing all the greatness of the six New England states on and off the field. The Free Jacks aim to create unforgettable in-person experiences at their home in Quincy, MA, and deliver dynamic digital content that delights and excites fans as a community-centric, world-class entertainment company. The core brand in the portfolio is The New England Free Jacks, the humble, hard-working, free-spirited MLR Champions. We never forget that life is better together, on and off the pitch. For more information, please visit www.FreeJacks.com.