New England Free Jacks announce return of Beaudein Waaka for the 2023 season
QUINCY, MA – The New England Free Jacks (MLR) have announced today that the club has signed MLR’s Most Valuable Player of the 2022 season, Beaudein Waaka. The returning Free Jack sensation agrees to terms with the franchise for 2024 and 2025 MLR seasons in addition to the remainder of the 2023 MLR season.
Waaka enters his 4th season in the MLR and joins the Free Jacks after the completion of the Top League season where he was with the Kolbeco Kobe Steelers in Japan. Originally Waaka signed in 2019 with New England and made his debut in the opening match of the Free Jacks’ inaugural 2020 MLR Season where he set the match alight with a sensational showing and signs of what was to come. The 29-year old former New Zealand All Blacks 7s star will arrive ahead of New Englands’ Round 13 clash against Old Glory DC where he should be available for selection.
“Beaudein departed after a superb 2022 season on great terms with the Free Jacks. Upon learning of the opportunity to bring him back for the remainder of the 2023 season and beyond, it was a no brainer for the club moving forward,” said General Manager Tom Kindley. “Beaudein has an awesome story in that he wasn’t a household name before coming to New England. It is a testament to his work that he left such an impression on our fans, and competition.”
Head Coach Scott Mathie added, “As we know, Beaudein is an outstanding competitor, team man, and game manager with game breaking x-factor. He will add depth to a compliment of backs who are playing incredibly well, and push our group to continue to excel through the back half and latter stages of the season.”
Hailing from Whakatane, New Zealand, Waaka attended Gisborne Boys High School and led his team to the 2011 Super 8 schoolboy title. He was selected to the New Zealand Schools and Hurricane Schools squads for the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Waaka earned selection to the New Zealand All Blacks 7s squad in the World Sevens Series in 2015. Between 2015 and 2018 Waaka earned 70 caps for the All Blacks 7s, appearing in 14 World Sevens Tournaments and scoring 18 tries. Waaka made his first appearance in the Mitre 10 Cup for Taranaki in 2013, starting four matches for the Bulls during his debut season. Beaudein represented Taranaki a further 29 between 2013-18, scoring six tries, earning a Victor’s Medal for Taranaki’s triumphant 2014 ITM Cup championship season. More recently Beaudein has played for Waikato in the NPC and if he returns to the NPC over the MLR off-season, he is set to play his 50th NPC match this season.
“I’m loving the way the Free Jacks boys are playing with a mixture of old and new styles from last year,” commented Waaka. “Seems like the boys have really come together and connected real well which is why they are playing some really good footy. I don’t expect to walk back into the starting lineup, let alone the 10 jersey. The team is where they are for a reason as any other rugby player, I’ll be coming back to do what’s best for this team moving forward to achieve the goal of bringing home a championship.”
About New England Free Jacks: The Free Jacks are an aspiring and innovative live events, media, and consumer products organization. The core brand in the portfolio is The New England Free Jacks, the humble hard-working free-spirited professional rugby team competing in the emergent and exhilarating Major League Rugby (MLR), the premier North American professional rugby competition. For more information, please visit www.FreeJacks.com.
Major League Rugby: Major League Rugby (MLR) is a professional rugby league, launched in April 2018. It is 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 is the pinnacle of American rugby, and provides a rallying point for local communities, a focal point for American rugby fans, and an aspirational destination for young athletes. For more information, please visit https://www.majorleague.rugby/.