All Blacks 7s Star Beaudein Waaka Returns to the Free Jacks
X Factor Utility Back to remain with the Free Jacks through the 2022 season
BOSTON – September 2, 2020 – The Free Jacks are pleased to announce the return of Beaudein Waaka for the 2021 and 2022 seasons of Major League Rugby. The 26-year old former New Zealand All Blacks 7s star had a profound impact on and off the field during the Free Jacks Inaugural Season has since been plying his trade for Melville in Waikato’s premier competition while training for the Mitre 10 Waikato side.
“I return with unfinished business,” said Waaka. “I look forward to getting back with the Free Jacks family and seeing what MLR 2021 has in store.”
Born in Whakatane, New Zealand, Waaka attended Gisborne Boys High School and led his team to the 2011 Super 8 schoolboy title. Waaka’s eye-catching displays and 5’11, 230 lb frame earned him selection to the New Zealand Schools and Hurricane Schools squads for the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. In 2011, Waaka began playing for Melville Rugby Club before moving to Clifton Rugby Club for the 2012-13 season.
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 times between 2013-18, scoring six tries and earning a Victor’s Medal for Taranaki’s triumphant 2014 ITM Cup championship season.
Waaka earned selection to the New Zealand All Blacks 7s squad in the World Sevens Series in 2015. Waaka’s combination of pace, power, and vision were on full display during his debut at the 2015 Wellington ’s tournament, scoring two tries and converting eight more as he helped the All Blacks claim the Wellington 7s Championship. Between 2015 and 2018 Waaka earned 70 caps for the All Blacks 7s, appearing in 14 World Sevens Tournaments and scoring 18 tries.
“It’s great to have the electric and versatile, ‘Waaks’ back,” smiled James Willocks, Free Jacks Technical Advisor. “‘The sheriff’ showed his ability to break open games in 2020, and in reference to his nickname, slotted into and did a stellar job in an off-field leadership capacity. It’s ‘about that time’ to unleash Waaks towards 2021.”
In 2019, Waaka signed with New England and made his debut in the opening match of the Free Jacks’ inaugural 2020 MLR Season. Waaka’s skill and experience was evident in his first appearance stateside, scoring a brace of tries in a thumping 34-14 Free Jacks victory over Rugby United New York. While the utility back missed three games due to a shoulder injury, Waaka made a forceful return for the Free Jacks’ Week 5 match against the NOLA Gold, carrying eight times for 96 meters.
With two seasons remaining on the utility back’s current contract, Free Jacks fans can expect to see plenty of highlight-reel action from Beaudein Waaka on the wing, full back, or wherever else on the pitch he may line up in 2020.
Join Waaka and the Free Jacks for a virtual meet and greet, “News and Brews,” on Thursday, September 10th. Grab a Free Jacks IPA and join the virtual gathering and get to know the newest Free Jacks and the returning players. RSVP using the link here: https://www.freejacks.com/news-and-brews/.
About The 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
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